Winemaker – Kent Price Wines
Since before the first vineyard was selected, or the first lot of fruit fermented, acclaimed winemaker Rudy Zuidema has guided the Kent Price wine program, working with Kent to make every important decision about the winery’s small portfolio of terroir-driven wines. Rudy learned his craft from some of the world’s finest winemakers, including Philippe Melka of Metisse, James Hall of Patz & Hall, Ted Lemon of Littorai, John Thatcher of Cuvaison and Ben Riggs of Wirra Wirra in Australia. Building on these formative experiences, Rudy has established himself as a Napa Valley specialist, renowned for making deep and purposeful wines—wines that capture the character of special sites and the nuance of each growing season.
Throughout his career, Rudy has reinforced his belief in a vineyard-driven approach to winemaking by being as active in the vineyard as he is in the winery. At both Ehlers Estate and White Cottage Ranch in Napa Valley, Rudy served as winemaker and vineyard manager. He has also been the winemaker for such wineries as Robert Craig, Vinoce and Allora. In the vineyard, Rudy focuses on quality, stewardship and sustainability to achieve pure, elegant varietal flavors. As a winemaker, he works to build complexity, while taking a gentle, non-manipulative approach that leads to beautifully structured wines with layers of character and vineyard-inspired complexity.
“Farming control is the key to success,” says Rudy. “The more active you are in the vineyard, the more hands-off you can be in the winery. This is the ideal, but it only works when you do your work in the vineyard, and the fruit comes in perfectly.” Rudy also approaches winemaking with a sense of inquisitiveness. “Uniformity and manicured perfection can be boring. I often like to pick over several days to allow the grapes to show different things. I also like to work in very small lots, using different fermentation techniques and temperatures to build layers into the wines. There are different ways to honestly express what the vineyard gives you.”
While the quality of the wines is the defining factor in every decision that Rudy makes, the joy he takes in his work is also important. “Kent and I share a similar philosophy, about wine, life and family. Just as I only want to work with vineyards I love and appreciate, working with people who inspire me is equally important. Great wines flow from great relationships, with growers, co-workers and others. It seems like an intangible, but for me, it is central to creating a wine that will bring pleasure to people and enhance their lives, even if only for a meal, or an evening.”