by Fred McMillin
for October 23, 1997

The Bench That Roared


  • The Rutherford Bench is located west of the Napa River in the central Napa Valley. Its magic became apparent right after Prohibition ended, when the 1936 Latour Private Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon brought international respect to the district.

  • When you arrive at the "Bench," don't look for an elevated, flat land. Its distinguishing features are soil and climate, not elevation.
The Rest of the Story: Gary Galleron is a child of "The Bench." He played among those vines in his youth. He lived there on a drive that bears the family name, Galleron Road. Less than half a mile away was the future Whitehall Lane 22-acre vineyard, where years later he would be making some of those world-class Cabernets. Before that happened, he graduated in wine science from Fresno State, worked under wine whiz Mike Grgich for a number of years, and made award-winning Cabs at the exaulted Grace Family Vineyards.

So, he brought a lot to the table when he took over Whitehall Lane winemaking in 1993, a dream come true for Gary. Consequently, he follows every barrel every step along the way, and it shows. His '94 Reserve Whitehall Lane Cab is a blockbuster...100% "Bench"...from the prestigious Morisoli Vineyard. If the budget permits, buy two bottles. Open one now, and the other in six or seven years, when it will be even better.

The Wine
1994 Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon, Napa Valley
Morisoli Vineyard, Rutherford Bench
Whitehall Lane Winery
Service—I would feature it after dinner, offering both an assorted cheese plate and a chocolate dessert.

Postscript: The source of the winery name? It is located at the intersection of Highway 29 and Whitehall Lane. Just across the highway is Galleron Road, as we were saying.

About the Writer

Fred McMillin, a veteran wine writer, has taught wine history for 30 years on three continents. He currently teaches wine courses at San Francisco State and San Francisco City College. In 1995, the Academy of Wine Communications honored Fred with one of only 22 Certificates of Commendation awarded to American wine writers.

Read more articles by Fred McMillin in the eGGsf

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