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Gold Medal Wine Club
5330 Debbie Road, Suite 200
Santa Barbara, California 93111
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Robert Rue Vineyards - Russain River Valley

Best New World Wine, Best of Class, Gold Medal winner.

It seems that Bob and Carlene Rue, owners of tiny Robert Rue Vineyard, are a throwback to a number of similar couples that inhabited Northern California’s vineyard land at the beginning of California’s modern wine renaissance during the 1960’s and 70’s. Many of these couples came to Northern California searching for acreage that could provide them with an opportunity to exist in the golden soils and climates of an industry that was just beginning to catch on to the notion that world class vines could be grown in California and thereafter become world class wines. Bob and Carlene’s opportunity came in 1973, when a relative suggested they inspect a small 10-acre vineyard in Sonoma County that was planted in the always popular Zinfandel vines. The couple, both now 62, liked what they saw and immediately bought the property. A closer inspection revealed that the old plantings were mostly Zinfandel (approximately 85%), with a sprinkling of Alicante, Carignane and PetitPetite Syrah, commonly called a field blend by the original Italian planters.

Bob Rue traced the plantings back to just before the start of the 20th Century and started farming the land. His old vine zinfandel grapes became highly sought after by a number of wineries including Mark West, Ravenswood and Cline Cellars. A large number of award winning wines were produced from Rue’s grapes that were considered among the finest in the Russian River section of Sonoma County. As the millennium came and went, Bob and Carlene Rue decided it was time for a change. “We had always wanted to operate a business together,” recalled Bob Rue recently. “We had sold our grapes for a good number of years and saw what could be done by the other wineries. I had done a bit of home winemaking and was encouraged by my family and friends to begin making our own wine.”

Robert Rue Vineyard debuted in 2001, with a small release of around 650 cases. With the vineyard’s past history of success, Robert Rue’s first release was met with excellent reviews and earned high kudos. “I realized from the beginning that going into a commercial situation was a lot different than making wines in my garage,” added Rue. “We were fortunate to find in Carol Shelton, a consultant that shared our thoughts on style and quality.” Shelton’s career included a long stint at Windsor Vineyards (she is credited with making Windsor a household name in its genre) as well as other stops, but the smallness of Robert Rue Vineyard fitted her like a glove. She has produced a number of award winning wines and will certainly add more in the future.

While Carlene Rue handles all the marketing for Robert Rue Vineyard, Bob continues to perform the daily duties of vineyard management that have made his vineyards so incredibly successful over the last three decades. He has also embarked on the difficult chore of replacing old vines that have been damaged or died. Since the land is nearly rock hard, it is necessary to dig extensive holes when replanting which allows the vines to reach the river bed bottom, more than 3 ½ feet down. Dynamite was formerly used during this process but proximity to other vines makes this method impossible. Bob Rue also installed a complete drip system that assures the correct amount of water for his beloved old plants. Robert Rue Vineyards makes around 800 cases annually, and could reach near a thousand under the right conditions. “When I was a grower I was always interested in quantity,” Rue confided. “As a vintner, the shoe is now on the other foot. I try and get a low yield of around 1 ½ tons an acre from our vines, and that assures extremely high quality for the winemaker to work with.”

Whatever the formula, Robert Rue Vineyard is a qualified success. Bob and Carlene are ecstatic with their achievement and look forward to the day when they can pass the mantle on to their family members. “We have two daughters and three grandchildren to look forward to,” Rue concluded. “They have already shown a great deal of interest in the winery. It would be wonderful if they were able to follow in our footsteps.”

With a hundred year old plus vineyard and an excellent and enthusiastic following, we believe in the likelihood of such a possibility. We hope you enjoy this Platinum Series wine from Robert Rue Vineyard.

  1. Robert Rue
    2005 Zinfandel
    Robert Rue
    Sonoma County


    Best New World Wine
    id: 112