In honor of upcoming Father’s Day, we decided to focus our In the Vineyard on a man with deep Dry Creek Valley roots, Richard Rued. On a perfectly sunny and breezy morning in June, we sat down with both him and his wife, Dee, at Rued Winery for an update on their vineyards and a deeper dive into his family’s history.
All About the Family: The Rueds
Steve (left), Paul (on tractor), Richard (back right), Tom (center) & Tyler (lab) Rued
Richard’s great-grandfather, Henry, first came to Northern California in the late 1800s from Switzerland, and planted grapes in Russian River Valley. Henry moved his entire family here in 1890 to a property in Alexander Valley. Both of these locations had vineyards, but were uprooted during Prohibition to plant mostly apples and prunes. The Alexander Valley property was also a small working dairy ranch and the perfect place to raise the Rued family.
It wasn’t until 1957 that the Rueds bought their first Dry Creek Valley property. Richard had taken this new property as a venture for FFA (Future Farmers of America) in High School by growing the family’s first Dry Creek Valley grapes.
Richard remembers getting off the bus from school and going straight to work on their ranch. It was his responsibility to bring in the sheep – a task that his father, Paul, would help him with in a slightly unconventional way. You see, on their property was a small airport. Paul would take Richard up in a plane to search for wherever the sheep were that day so that Richard could ride his horse directly to the flock and not have to spend hours searching. Richard still remembers the steep ascent fondly as time well spent with his dad.
Both Richard and his wife, Dee, still live in Dry Creek Valley. They have two sons – Steve & Tom, who were both raised in the Valley and now work in the wine business. Tom works in the vineyards with Richard and Steve is the winemaker for the Rueds’ family label – Rued Winery. The label is relatively new with their first vintage in 2000 with their winery and tasting room opening just 10-years ago in 2006. Their wine is a testament to the family’s history of working the ground for many years and are true to the vineyard the grapes were grown in.
In a world of corporate wine – Richard and Dee believe that it’s just as important as ever to keep family wineries around. They both feel pressure as land values increase. The Rueds feel that small production, family style wine has a better value and tastes more authentic. Dee feels that it’s important for guests to see families with a deep history, someone who is living their passion as a way of means, and has been for years. “Most wineries in Dry Creek, when visitors show up, they can almost always talk to an owner, compared to Napa, where you’ll hardly ever see it,” says Richard. “People seem to enjoy talking to us.”
For more Dry Creek Dad’s – check out our Father’s Day blog!
In the Vineyard
In Dry Creek Valley, the Rueds have 70 acres including: Cabernet Sauvignon, Chardonnay, Pinot Gris, Sauvignon Blanc, and Zinfandel which according to Richard are seeing a great year so far. This year the vines are really growing due to the increase of water they received during winter and the spring rains. The previous drought years were a means for concern, but this year’s growth is a great sign and gives Richard hope for the 2016 vintage.
“Vines are doing good. They look good!” states Richard. Blooms came a little quick this year, but Rued feels that the timing standard has been consistently inching earlier. His Chardonnay vineyard, planted in 1990, just behind the tasting room, must be nearly 7-feet tall. Bunches of grapes are full and are starting to get tighter.
What’s next for these vines? The Rueds are anticipating an early harvest in August, but have fingers crossed for September. For these Sauvginon Blanc & Chardonnay grapes, they are harvested first and earliest in the day. White grapes due better when picked in cooler temperatures.
A very big thank you to Richard and Dee for taking the time to sit and talk with us about their family and vines. It’s members like these that make the Dry Creek Valley rich and rooted in values that we hold near and dear. And a very Happy Father’s Day to all!
For daily updates on all of our Dry Creek Valley wineries and vineyards, follow us on Instagram at @drycreekvalleywines and be sure to like us on Facebook @drycreekvalley to keep up to date on all that’s happening!