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Rutherford Dust & Its Role in Grape Growing

Rutherford terrain is dominated by three alluvial fans. They are made of volcanic and marine sedimentary debris that has eroded from the mountains over many years. The soils in Rutherford generally get rockier as you move north. This, along with warmer temperatures and gradually increasing elevation leads to fuller bodied wines.

Soils on the Rutherford Bench are comprised of alluvial loam and sand. 2,500 acres of some of California’s most highly prized vineyards are on the Bench. Similar soils can be found up to a half mile east of Highway 29.

These soils drain extremely well, causing vineyard roots to grow deep into the ground in search of underground water. Amazingly, some of these root systems are able to penetrate over 50 feet into the earth.

Soils on the valley floor are primarily sedimentary and are peppered with volcanic deposits. Chardonnay and Sauvignon Blanc are widely planted in this part of the AVA. Frog’s Leap Winery developed their reputation on growing great Sauvignon Blanc before it was fashionable.

Soils near the Napa River are generally alluvial and sedimentary. They tend to be more fertile than bench and mountain soils. Many vineyards in these locations practice canopy management to reduce vine vigor and keep quality up.

> Oakville Wineries

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