Wine Country Destination: Etude

Winemaking begins in the vineyard. This is the core belief at Etude, established in 1983 by Tony Soter. Etude wines are crafted with the firm belief that superior grape growing allows the winemaker to create wines that exceptionally express each varietal and vineyard site.

In 1982, Etude was established in what is now known as the Carneros AVA, in the most southern region of the Napa Valley AVA. Home to unique microclimates for the area, founder Tony Soter made it his goal to grow Pinot Noir in what is known as a Cabernet dominated area. Lo and behold, by 2000, Etude’s estate vineyards, which are divided across 600 acres on the Grace Benoist Ranch, had been developed, growing nine Heirloom Pinot Noir clones, seven Chardonnay clones, and eight additional Pinot Noir clones.

But wait, how does Pinot Noir grow in Napa, and how does Etude do it so well? While the majority of the region is dominated by hot, dry, and sunny days, Carneros, home to the Grace Benoist Ranch, is located in a cool growing region, uncommon for the area. The fickle Pinot Noir grape grows well in the fog and maritime breezes, which come in off the Pacific Ocean and San Pablo Bay, and flourishes in the heavy influence that comes from the Petaluma Gap winds. The Grace Benoist Ranch is home to unique soil profiles as well, which are not often found in the surrounding area.

2003 would be the first year Etude would harvest from the Grace Benoist Ranch, and crush at RMS Distillery, which is now Etude Winery. The next year, in 2004, marked the beginning of Etude’s tradition of estate sourced Pinot Noir grapes. As Etude continues to develop and grow, more good press was received throughout the late 2000’s. In 2010, the former RMS Distillery was reopened, and now home to the Etude winery and tasting room.

Set far back off the main road, Etude’s beautiful tasting room is privately tucked away in a beautiful setting among historical looking orange tiled buildings, and a tree lined road. Though not a small family winery, Etude exudes a peaceful atmosphere and welcomes guests away from the crowds and bustle of Highway 29. Visitors can take in a flight of Etude wines inside the elegant tasting room, or al fresco to enjoy a sunny day on the patio.

The vast lawn welcomes a casual glass to be enjoyed, or perhaps a private affair back dropped by gorgeous, quiet vineyards. Etude is available for private event bookings at their stunning property, with it's beautiful and peaceful location providing the perfect space for a pretty June wedding, an intimate gathering among friends, and more. Visit to book a private event!

For more information on Etude and all it has to offer, please visit

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