Rutherford is located in the Napa Valley AVA. The Robert Mondavi Winery is located between Rutherford and neighboring Oakville (though its corporate headquarters are in nearby St. Helena). Other notable wineries in the Rutherford area include Beaulieu Vineyard, Grgich Hills Estate and Rubicon Estate Winery which was originally established as Inglenook Winery.
Rutherford is located within the 11,887-acre (48 km2) Mexican land grant Rancho Caymus deeded to the early Napa Valley settler George C. Yount from General Mariano Guadalupe Vallejo in 1838 as payment for a variety of services. Yount gave a 1,040-acre (4 km2) portion of the grant to his grand daughter Elizabeth and her husband Thomas Rutherford in 1864 as a wedding present. Thomas Rutherford established himself as a grower and producer of high-quality wines during the late 1800s.
In the state legislature Rutherford is located in the 2nd Senate District, represented by Democrat Pat Wiggins, and in the 7th Assembly District, represented by Democrat Noreen Evans. Federally, Rutherford is located in California's 1st congressional district.