The secluded property, once a large thoroughbred horse ranch, was purchased by Susan Meyer's family in 1972. Now it reflects Jim & Susan's two passions: wine and horses. They continue to breed and race thoroughbreds and each spring; just about the time new buds form on the grape vines, new foals are born.
The grape vines were planted in the mid 70's to Chardonnay, Riesling, Sauvignon Blanc, Cabernet Sauvignon and Zinfandel. The winery was founded by Susan's brothers in 1985. It is housed in a renovated cattle barn. Winemaker Susan Meyer and her husband, Jim Fresquez, took over the reins of the operation in 1990.
For over 21 years legendary winemaker Kent Rosenblum assisted Susan in handcrafting the estate-bottled wines produced by RustRidge. Vines are organically grown and dry farmed. The grapes are used by Susan to create RustRidge's spectrum of award-winning wines, including Cabernet Sauvignon, Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc and Zinfandel.
The region's special microclimate is integral to the character of RustRidge wines. The Chiles Valley lies approximately 1,000 feet above the Napa Valley floor.
The day time climate here is similar to that of the Oakville and Rutherford areas; however, the temperature is several degrees cooler at night. The cooler nights and the higher elevation delay bud-break which occurs two to three weeks later than the rest of Napa Valley. As a result, the grapes are harvested later than most other grapes from Napa Valley which, in part, lends distinctive flavor and quality to the wines. The reds are redolent of black cherry, raspberry and spice, while the white wines show distinct flavors and aromas of green apple, ripe pear, pineapple and citrus.