Rombauer Vineyards: The Amazing Chardonnay That Set The Trend
Start of a Chardonnay blog series.
What's Their Story:
Koerner Rombauer loved to fly – he was a military and commercial aircraft pilot for over 30 years. He loved wine so much that he moved his family to Napa in 1972. According to Mr. Rombauer" "Flying and winemaking are both mystical, magical things. The magic of Flying is that it allows you to leave behind all that binds you to the earth. The magic of winemaking is that you create something with your own hands from your piece of earth that lasts for years".
While still piloting for Braniff International Airlines, he began working for Conn Creek Winery in 1975, becoming a partner there in 1976. After proving his chops, he and his wife, Joan, founded Rombauer Vineyards in 1980.
Soon, Rombauer Chardonnay became the quintessential California Chardonnay. Its distinctive ripe fruit, creamy texture, and oak buttery finish set the bar for Chardonnays for decades. Rombauer Chardonnays was a repeat selection for Wine Spectator's top 100 Wines of the year.
Unfortunately, both Rombauers have passed, Joan Rombauer in 2002 and Koerner Rombauer in 2018. E. & J. Gallo's Luxury Wine Group purchased the winery in 2023.
Why The Winery Made The Grade:
Rombauer Winery wine was synonymous with Chardonnay. A winery visit is a worthwhile endeavor to understand how Chardonnay wine has changed so much in the last several decades. The wine had 5 distinctive elements: intense fruit flavors, creamy texture, vanilla oak, butter, and intense acidity, and was the benchmark for California Chardonnay wine.
Whether or not big buttery/oaky Chardonnay wines are your thing, I think it's important to see where it all started.
Here's another interesting tidbit about the Rombauer's. Koerner Rombauer's great-aunt, Irma Rombauer, was the original author of the cookbook The Joy of Cooking.
Rombauer Winery is a particularly pretty winery. The grounds, garden, and caves are spectacular and worth a wander about. Picnicking is available.
The interior tasting areas are modern and functional. The best about them is that they offer tremendous views of the surrounding valley.
Which Winery Visitor Type Would Love It :
Because of the history and importance of the winery scene in Napa, I think all winery visitor types would enjoy visiting. Oenophiles and Authenticity Seekers will enjoy the intimacy of an indoor tasting; Casual Wine Drinkers will revel in the outdoor seating area, and Luxury Seekers will enjoy the sense of history.
Address: 3522 Silverado Trail N, St Helena, CA 94574
Phone: (866) 280-2582
Appointments are required.
Hours: 10:00 AM – 5:00 PM Daily
Rombauer offers basically one tasting option of 5 wines for $25.00, which is inside; they also offer wine by the glass to enjoy outside in the winery's magnificent setting.
Read the next blog in the series: Sojourn Cellars
Or read all of the blogs in our new guide, Chardonnay Wineries of Sonoma and Napa.