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For such a storied wine region, Napa Valley can besurprisingly modest about its older wines. Wineries like Charles Krug haveoperated since the mid-1800s, with time off for Prohibition. But older vintagesdon’t command the astronomical sums cult new releases do, and California winehas never been considered terrifically age-worthy.
Leslie Rudd aims to change that.The entrepreneur and philanthropist owns two Napa wineries—Rudd Estate and EdgeHill—as well as Dean & Deluca and Distillery No. 209. Last year, at his St.Helena restaurant Press, he hired two sommeliers, Kelli White and Scott Brenner(from the New York restaurants Veritas and Aureole, respectively) and put themin charge of building the most extensive library of vintage Napa winesanywhere. Now containing 10,000 bottles and counting, the cellar itself is aclimate-controlled space, adjacent to the restaurant, designed by Napaarchitect Howard Backen. It was here that Rudd hosted a rare gathering ofwinemaking legends last month. From Cathy Corison to the Mondavis, dozens camewith favorite wines to pour and donations for the new cellar. As the nightproved, not only can Napa wines age well, but also, in a region known forpower, older vintages often show welcome restraint. Click through for nine highlights.