Beaulieu Vineyard was named by Fernande LaTour when she and her husband George purchased 4 acres of Ranch property in Rutherford in early 1900. Translated, it means “beautiful place.” George LaTour arrived with a vision to make Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon that would rival his native France. Over the years he not only built Beaulieu Vineyard (BV) to be one of America’s most collected wines but his knowledge of phylloxera and decision to import rootstock resistant to the pest also secured his stature in history as one of Napa Valley’s early pioneers.
LaTour was not only a visionary, but also a savvy businessman. During the years of prohibition when most wineries went out of business, BV obtained a contract to supply sacramental wine to churches nationwide. By the time prohibition was repealed in 1933, BV had grown its business fourfold. He also hired famed winemaker Andre Tchelistcheff, whose highly trained palate and enology expertise led to his nickname “The Maestro,” of which BV’s private label is aptly named.
BV’s Visitor center and tasting rooms are located on Rutherford Road and share a parking lot with the Rutherford Grill. The main (open to walk in public) tasting room and private club member tasting room are situated in one building right off the street, and the “Reserve Tasting Room” is located 25 steps across the parking lot, nestled behind the barrel storage building. Upon entering the main building, visitors are greeted by a host who explains the options for tastings. They include a Welcome tasting ($25) which consists of limited production “Maestro” wines (only available at the winery) and the Reserve tasting ($40) which includes wines from the Reserve Collection, including Georges LaTour’s 97 point Cabernet. There is also a Heritage Tour and Library Tasting ($65) by appointment only. For walk in visitors, hosts can be flexible as far as wine selections and are gracious to accommodate preferences once they become familiar with their guests’ palates. The staff seem well trained on the wine selections and are knowledgeable, even passionate in their disclosures about the rich history of the winery. Our hosts were never remiss in making mutual introductions but as a rule, kept engagements at a professional level. The presentations were very thorough and included succinct collateral consistently referenced, including tasting notes, price lists, wine club details and contact information cards.
While one can experience both the Welcome and Reserve Tasting options from the main tasting facility, we may encourage one to request the Reserve Tasting room for the Reserve Experiences. The walk-in main room experiences were never rushed, however, based on the standing at the bar venue and volume of visitor traffic, one did not feel inclined to linger. The Reserve Room is designed for a more intimate experience with seating at the tasting bar and among sitting areas situated throughout. If one is looking to sit back, relax and make a personal connection, this is the option to choose.
On the whole, BV offers guests some of Napa Valley’s most regaled wines presented knowledgeably and professionally. A guest will not only taste some of Napa’s legacy Rutherford Cabernet Sauvignon and Bordeaux varietals; they will learn to appreciate some of Napa’s rich history.
We are pleased to report BV hosts hit the mark in all of our scoring categories, however, we deducted ½ point based on the inconsistent venue in the main tasting room. We found the intimacy of the experience and the opportunity to connect with the host can change significantly based on the traffic volume.
Overall, rich with history and unceasing credentials as one of the most collected American wines, BV maintains its solid reputation as a fixture on Napa Valley wine tasting itineraries.
1960 St. Helena Hwy
Rutherford, CA 94573
WHAT THEY DID WELL:
Precision hospitality operations; well trained staff, walk-ins welcomed
DTC BEST PRACTICES EXAMPLES:
- Knowledgeable staff; winery history prevalent in tasting collateral
Sales Acumen & Wine Club:
- Keen Knowledge of products
- Connecting with guests through flexible offerings and individual palate preference
- Wine list and pricing prominent throughout tasting
- Wine Club program included in folder /presented at close
Collecting Customer Information
- Contact information/ business cards requested at close