It began in the late 1960's when William (Bill) P. Jaeger Jr. had a vision. He saw 650 acres of land surrounding the intersection of Big Ranch Road and Oak Knoll Avenue and knew it would be ideal for the creation and development of fine-wine grapes. It takes a person of vision and Bill saw the beauty of the area and the Avenue that defined it. Drive East or West on Oak Knoll Avenue from Highway 29 or the Silverado Trail and you experience what Bill and Gene Trefethen created when they planted walnut trees defining the avenue and framing the vineyards on either side.
With only a handful of wineries in the Napa Valley at the time, Bill and his business partners started Freemark Abbey Winery in 1967. Could they have really known what lay in store for the Valley over the next 40 years? With an entrepreneurial spirit, Bill and his partners began planting grapes that would allow Freemark Abbey to grow, yet within a matter of years, it was apparent that there would be more than enough grapes to begin a sister winery.
In 1976, this vision led Bill, his wife Lila and their four children Betsy, Billy, Jeff and Jack to purchase a recently established winery just east of the Silverado Trail in Rutherford. Under their ownership, the winery was renamed Rutherford Hill Winery and flourished over the next 20 years of operation. The winery continues to this day, known for its fabulous Merlots, wine caves and scented olive groves, overlooking the picturesque Napa Valley.