The heritage of Sullivan Rutherford Estate dates back two centuries to 1821 when ownership of the Napa Valley transitioned from Spain to Mexico. Twenty years later the Napa Valley was divided into two parcels through a land grant given by Governor Juan Alvarado —Rancho Caymus to the South, and Rancho Carne Humana to the North. Sullivan’s property lies on this historic division.
The first pioneers in Napa Valley winemaking, namely Captain Niebaum and Georges de Latour, landed in Rutherford in the late 1800’s and produced the most noteworthy New World wine of that time.
In 1918, Virgile Galleron acquired 402 acres in Rutherford with the purpose of farming the land.
Founded by James O’Neil Sullivan, a visionary and pioneer. Nearly 60 years later the 26-acre Rutherford property was purchased from the Galleron family. With the encouragement of friend and legendary winemaker André Tchelistcheff, Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon vines were planted in gravelly-sandy loam.
Jim’s passion for creating great wine predated the 1976 Judgment of Paris which famously recognized Napa Valley wines as among the best in the world.
Jim Sullivan’s interest in wine was ignited in the 1950s with a simple grape arbor given to him and his new bride as a wedding gift and he began to make wine at home before moving his family to Rutherford and establishing Sullivan in 1972.
For nearly five decades, the Estate was an oasis for wine lovers. The Sullivans quietly sold wine directly to their friends and family and the winery remained relatively undiscovered for many years.
At the center of the property, the family residence is a unique architectural jewel, built with geometric precision and cardinal representation. James O’Neil Sullivan worked with celebrated architect John Marsh Davis, known as one of the most acclaimed representatives of the Frank Lloyd Wright aesthetic.
Today the Estate continues to build on its legacy of growing and crafting world class Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon.
Under new family ownership in 2018, the team is deeply investing in its vineyard programs and plans are underway to build a state-of-the-art winery and hospitality facilities. Led by entrepreneur Juan Pablo Torres-Padilla, who has gradually gathered one of the top teams of wine professionals in the country to lead the Estate, recognizes great potential for crafting exquisite wines and one of the top visitor experiences.