How It All Began...
After years of holding winemaking and vineyard management positions for noted wineries like Honig, Robert Craig, and Ehlers Estate, and as interesting consulting opportunities accumulated, Rudy decided to branch out and enhance his career by working on smaller more intimate projects as an independent winemaking consultant. Zuidema Wines, begun in 1999, has morphed into a family of operations that now includes Shadybrook Estate, Red Cap Vineyards, Napa de Oro, Phamus, and Southern Roots. Our personal wine brand, Zuidema Grenache, arose when a vineyard owner in Rutherford, whom Rudy had been working with for a few years, was considering a re-plant of a Cabernet Sauvignon vineyard block. Rudy and some of the other grape buyers approached the owners with a proposal to change to Grenache with pre-plant contracts to secure the fruit. After some negotiation the deal was done and the idea became reality in 2011. The 2014 Zuidema Grenache was our inaugural vintage.
The McGah Vineyard is located in the heart of the Napa Valley on the Eastern side of Rutherford. The famous soils of Rutherford are rich in nutrient, rocky for great drainage and part of a microclimate perfectly suited for growing red wine varieties.
Our one-acre block of Grenache was planted in 2011 to clone 515 on St. George rootstock and is head trained. This old school style of farming will bring a variety of different ripeness and flavors to our harvests. The lack of perfect consistency is exactly what we are looking for to create the rustic complexity of our wines.
The grapes are hand harvested, de-stemmed, machine sorted, and cold soaked for 3-6 days before the native yeast begins to ferment the sugars. Our addition of more predictable yeast allows us to maintain a slow and cool fermentation that lasts for up to 28 days. Pump overs are done three times daily until day 10-12 when only softer handed punch downs are used to mix the skins with the juice. Only free-run wine makes its way to the combination of American and French oak barrels with a very small portion being new. The wine is aged in bottle for at least eight months before release.
Both direct press and saignée methods are used for the Rosé. A blend of the two methods is made about a month prior to bottling. For the direct press, an early harvest occurs 2-3 weeks prior to the main harvest. This fruit is whole cluster pressed immediately after picking to remove the juice from the skins before any color extraction happens. For the saignée method, once processing begins, about 12% of the juice is separated from the skins before any color extraction can occur. The juice from these methods is barrel fermented in neutral barrels and aged in those barrels for up to five months. The lees from fermentation are stirred every week to gain a silky texture and some viscosity in the mouth feel.
Rudy was born in Sacramento CA and grew up in the small agricultural community of Davis. He attended the University of California at Davis, studying Plant Science and Agriculture Management focusing on Viticulture. He graduated in 1991 and quickly headed for the Napa Valley wine country to find opportunities in vineyard management and winemaking. He first worked in restaurants where he could gain knowledge of food and wine pairing, and where he happily was able to taste thousands of wines from Napa Valley and other regions around the world.
His first wine cellar experience was at St. Clement Vineyards, working with local winemaker Dennis Johns. From there he climbed the industry ladder with positions in turn as assistant winemaker, head winemaker, vineyard manager and general manager at Cuvaison, Honig, Robert Craig, Ehlers Estate and White Cottage Ranch. He studied organic and biodynamic farming, receiving CCOF and Demeter certifications on several ranches. He is focused on sustainability and prides himself on his stewardship of the vineyard sites.
Rudy works with many exceptional vineyards throughout the Napa Valley region, including AVAs of Howell Mountain, Coombsville, Rutherford, Mount George, Carneros, and St. Helena. He uses a natural, respectful, and non-manipulative approach to winemaking that creates wines that tell their individual and unique stories. He believes every wine should speak of the grape that it is: the region, the vineyard, and the vintage year of its origin.
Amy was born in Mountain View CA at a time her dad was studying at Stanford and her mom was beginning a nursing career. After bouncing around university towns across the country while her dad tried his hand at professor, Amy gained five siblings and the family eventually settled in Danville, CA. Amy attended California Polytechnic State University in San Luis Obispo, studying Human Development and Psychology. She graduated in 1994 and worked as a market analyst for a large department store chain. Then by chance she met Rudy, and it changed both of their lives at once, forever, and for the best. After an exciting courtship rallying between San Francisco and Napa Valley adventures, Amy and Rudy married in St. Helena in 1998. Amy continued in marketing for Araujo Estate and Robert Craig Winery, while learning the intricacies of the wine industry. Now Amy and Rudy have a wonderful family with four amazing, beautiful children who are the joy and inspiration of the thriving Zuidema Wine Company.
Michael Nguyen, born and raised in San Jose, CA is no stranger to the business of Sales & Marketing. With over 13 years of experience, Michael joins Zuidema Wine Company with a complete understanding and specialization of the digital space. Working with selected brands such as Red Cap Vineyards, Maison du Prix Wines, and many others in Napa Valley, he's gained a diverse understanding of how to shape the business as it evolves. As one of the pioneers to new-age marketing, he continues to innovate and shape the wine industry into its next generation.