Sounds a bit odd, using Old World techniques in a new vineyard, but Rudy Zuidema nailed it perfectly! Rudy has been making wine for almost 30 years with an impressive resume making wine for Red Cap Vineyards, Encanto Vineyards, Shadybrook Estate, Allora Vineyards, Kent Price Wines, and Alyris Winery. This new venture is his own brand, Zuidema Wines. In order to get to this position, he first put in the hard work 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. Rudy is well traveled in Napa Valley, utilizing his talents with many climates and varietals including AVAs of Howell Mountain, Coombsville, Rutherford, Mount George, Carneros, and St. Helena.
He secured this plot of land, located in Rutherford, in 2011 and was able to start from scratch with plantings. He choose Clone 515 Grenache from the famed Chateauneuf du Pape heritage and married it to the noble St George rootstock. This allowed his Grenache to be dry farmed in an Old World manner. No trellis, no wires, simply head trained soaking in the richness of the Rutherford soil. The label with the roots seeking minerals and nourishment, is more than an artist logo, it is his vineyard management style in full swing.
His inaugural release of this 2014 Grenache combines delicate finesse with the subtle power of Grenache. Rudy describes it as “the aromas are made up of white pepper, bright rhubarb, strawberry and blood orange peel. The bright acidity in the mid palate bursts with mixed berries, holiday spice and layers of anise and tarragon”. Even the finish gives a hint of the Old World with it being “rustic and not perfectly polished”. At a recent tasting with friends, most agreeing with the color being ruby to brick red, with cranberry fruit, having a spicy oak flavoring, yet showing the minerality of dry farming. Also at the same tasting, all agreed to a medium body, they also believed it was close to a $50 wine. Zuidema website shows $42. This is indeed an excellent showing for an inaugural wine release! Only 99 cases were made and it will go fast!
Rudy with his experience in the vineyard, winemaking and his choice of vines, seems to have merged some Old World techniques into a very promising future for Zuidema Wines.