Napa’s ‘Quiet Secret’: Sullivan Rutherford Estate

Sullivan Rutherford Estate is located in Napa Valley.

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Napa’s ‘Quiet Secret’: Sullivan Rutherford Estate

by L.M. Archer

Sullivan Rutherford Estate is located in Napa Valley.
Photo Credit: Jay Wonderly

L.M. Archer introduces us to a long-standing yet lesser-known winery in Napa, Sullivan Rutherford Hills. She chats with the newest owner, Juan Pablo Torres-Padilla of Vite USA, and how he plans to give this winery its time in the limelight.

Sullivan Rutherford Estate ranks among Napa’s most iconic wineries. Yet few know about it, save some discrete collectors and investors. One man intends to change that.

Founded in 1972 by Los Angeles graphics designer James O’Neil Sullivan, the estate straddles 26 acres in the heart of Napa Valley’s Rutherford region, 22 acres planted to vines.

Here, legendary Beaulieu Vineyards winemaker Andre Tchelistcheff advised the neophyte estate owner to plant Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot, well ahead of the curve. Tchelistcheff also coined the term ‘Rutherford Dust’ to describe the area’s magical, graveled terroir.

As a winemaker, Sullivan eschewed trends, crafting singular wines evocative of place. When he died in 2004, the estate remained a ‘quiet secret’ until 2018, when the family sold it to Juan Pablo Torres-Padilla of private Mexican investment fund VITE USA. Torres-Padilla’s quest? Bring Sullivan Rutherford Estate the iconic recognition it deserves.


Torres-Padilla’s passion for wine started in Paris, where the Mexico City-born businessman studied and worked for over fifteen years. While there, he often visited Burgundy, Champagne, and Bordeaux. “However,” admits Torres-Padilla, “The very first time I truly became inspired to make wine my life project was when we were hosted for a private visit to Domaine Romanée-Conti in Burgundy by co-owner legendary Aubert de Villaine.” READ MORE HERE.

More by L.M. Archer here.


Copyright ©L.M. Archer 2020. All Rights Reserved.

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