It was the wedding gift that never stopped giving. An otherwise ordinary grape arbor was gifted to newlyweds Jim and Johanna Sullivan, and they were permanently inspired. Jim is a graphic artist, and worked with 60’s cultural icons like The Monkeys and Dick Clark Productions, but the grape arbor would refocus his creative energies. By the mid 80’s, Rutherford was established as one of the finest Cabernet Sauvignon producing regions in the world, and the Sullivan’s had been in the middle of it for years. As buzz about the Napa Valley spread, Sullivan Vineyards would collaborate with world-class architects, winemakers, chefs, artists and musicians to fulfill Jim’s passion. The pursuit of this passion included the family home as well as a hospitality center to host and these creative visionaries from all over the world. Nowadays, the winery is still family owned, and the enthusiasm of the founder has found its way into his children. Sean, Ross, and Kelleen now professionally manage the family winery and are committed to keeping it that way.
The science has caught up to Jim Sullivan’s decades old vision. Completely unheard of on an estate so small, half the world’s soil types can be found on his property. This diversity helps the family create unique wines of distinction. Varying from clay loam to sandy gravel, the 26 acres of vineyards at the Napa Valley estate have an incredible ability to grow quality Cabernet, Chardonnay and Merlot.
At the helm is experienced winemaker Scott McLeod. He can monitor and manage the small vineyard at Sullivan Estate and easily taste his care and attention to detail in every glass. Having worked previously in Tuscany, Italy, he has and additional two decades of experience in Rutherford. While spending 20 years at Inglenook Winery, Scott was named Wine Enthusiast’s Winemaker of the Year in 2009. He brings the sensibility of a classic European winery – an estate vineyard based exclusively on terroir.
Combining the passion of the Sullivan family with Scott’s experience, Sullivan Estate wines shine bright in a neighborhood surrounded by giants. Showing off the unique diversity of the vineyards, the Sullivan Chardonnay is dense and golden. The nose is tropical and a bit citrusy, but perfectly balanced on the palate with acidity and still sumptuous touches of toasty vanilla and lingering oak spice.
The Sullivan Merlot bursts with a red fruit and spiced plum bouquet. While juicy and robust on the palate, the dusty chocolate tannins reflect the Rutherford soils. A tinge of acidity and the sophisticated flavors of this wine make it a perfect choice for a variety of food pairings.
And the Sullivan Cabernet Sauvignon is a classic in a region that is renowned for its Cabernets. Jim and Scott’s version is deep and brooding, with black fruits and dark chocolate, accented by high-toned acidity and refined tannins. The eponymous descriptor of Rutherford cabernet, Rutherford Dust, is exemplified in the structure of this estate-produced wine.
We can show you this, and many other, intimate and unique, small family wineries all over the Napa Valley. Find your personalized Napa Valley wine tour here.
Check out this YouTube interview at Sullivan Vineyards to see and learn more about the estate and the family:
1090 Galleron Road, Rutherford, CA 94573