von Strasser Winery
Napa Valley AVA
Rudy immediately knew his Diamond Mountain property was special
For a man who has already accomplished a great deal for his 55 years, Rudy von Strasser might seem a great deal older to the casual observer.
Now a seasoned veteran within the wine industry, von Strasser first entered the wine business in 1989 via a rather circuitous route. After graduating from the University of New Hampshire in 1980 with a thesis on hard-cider production under his belt, he set about to rejuvenate the cider industry. After a stint with Robert Mondavi, he was instead drawn to the wine industry and enrolled in UC Davis, graduating in 1985. A family friend offered him an introduction to Baron Eric de Rothschild at Chateau Lafite-Rothschild and Rudy became the first American intern at the venerable chateau (The result was so successful, that each year since the Chateau has chosen a new Davis graduate to work as an intern at the winery). After his year was up, Rudy returned to Napa Valley and worked for both Trefethen and Newton. In 1989, immediately after his marriage to his wife Rita, the couple began looking for a vineyard property on which to make their home.
A small block of property came on the market on Diamond Mountain that was originally planted in 1970 and was known as Roddis Cellars, but was currently being used by its then owner the British Gilby Gin family as a corporate retreat. In 1990, the von Strassers bought the estate and began the task of renovating and modernizing the property. After several acquisitions, today’s von Strasser Estate comprises approximately fifteen acres of prized vineyards.
Rudy immediately knew his Diamond Mountain property was something special. Having already developed a deep passion and talent for producing Cabernet Sauvignon, he was committed to finding a parcel of land in a microclimate blessed with the ability to grow and produce the finest red wines in Napa Valley – wines worthy to carry the von Strasser family name. The Diamond Mountain site proved to be just that, and Rudy was thrilled with his fortuitous find.
Several years later, Rudy von Strasser began the problematic task of petitioning the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms to acknowledge Diamond Mountain as an official American Viticultural Area (AVA). He enlisted the help of many of his neighbors in the project and doggedly pursued his task. In late May of 2001, the undertaking was completed and the resultant Diamond Mountain Region wines were allowed to use the “Diamond Mountain District” appellation on their labels. By doing so, the BATF acknowledged both the history (over 150 years of grape farming) and the great quality of the wines produced by Diamond Mountain’s vintners.
With Rudy von Strasser, smaller is better as long as smaller is considered in concert with quality. His station within the confines of the Diamond Mountain appellation (comprising only 5,300 total acres, of which just over 500 are now actually under vine) assures that his desire for a diminutive, high quality facility will continue to be fulfilled.
Away from the winery, Rudy can be found spending time with his three children or enjoying the outdoors. He is apt to go snowboarding, hunting, fishing, or bow shooting, and actually teaches archery for 4H in Calistoga. Rudy enjoys working with kids, and wants his own to grow up knowing how to care for vines as well as learning the art of making wine. His family life is clearly all-important to him, and his winery’s current 4,000 total case production level provides him with ample outlets for his enthusiasm and energy. He never regrets his exodus from the Eastern environment his Wall Street father offered him and his proximity to big business.
Since von Strasser Winery was founded in 1990, Rudy has maintained the role of full-time winemaker and is gifted with the achievement of building one of the gems of Diamond Mountain. He describes the von Strasser wines as long lived, elegant, and easy to understand – enjoy the 2011 von Strasser Diamond Mountain Zinfandel and you will see what he means.
Rudy von Strasser - Owner
Dear Platinum Series Wine Club Members,
For those of you who do not know about von Strasser winery, I would like to give you a very brief background. I started my winery with my wife Rita back in 1990. I had graduated from the U.C. Davis Viticulture and Enology program in 1985, and was working my way up the proverbial winemaking ladder: having worked for Chateau Lafite-Rothschild, Trefethen Winery and Newton Vineyards. Somehow the stars lined up for us in 1990: a recession was gripping the California real-estate market, while at the same time an old run-down winery/barn was missing part of its roof, the potential was obvious. The property in Napa’s Diamond Mountain District became both our family and winery home.
Diamond Mountain AVA is world renowned for its Cabernet Sauvignon. In fact, out of the 500 acres of grapes in the AVA, more than 95% are planted to Cabernet. However, as a winemaker, I always look for exciting projects that allow me to test my skills and broaden my horizon. This bottling of Diamond Mountain District Zinfandel is such a project. One of only two Zinfandel vineyards in the AVA, this small 1 acre block yields a mere 3 tons per acre. The wine is wonderfully complex. Not-at-all in the style of the high alcohol, syrupy wines one tends to see these days, it is more old-school: elegant and sophisticated. The aromas are of raspberries and spice, and the palate is smooth and long. This Zin is very versatile and can be paired with the strongest of BBQ’s, or with an elegant pasta dish. Put it in your cellar for 5-6 years and see what a nicely aged Zin tastes like.
Thank you for choosing my 2012 Diamond Mountain District Zinfandel. If you find yourself in Napa Valley in the near future please come and celebrate our 25th anniversary with us.
Rudy von Strasser