A Timeless Look at the Next Generation of Rudd Oakville EstateAuthor:Annette Hanami
Respect, preserve, improve. These are some of the core values that are deeply rooted in Leslie Rudd’s influential investments in Napa Valley over the decades. His restoration of 19 properties from Edge Hill Winery to Oakville Grocery and conservation of their organically farmed estate vineyards and farmland, carve out a bright future not only for Napa Valley but also for his 29-year-old daughter Samantha who recently took over the reins of the business. At the home Rudd Oakville Estate, Samantha begins the next chapter of stewardship with a new Backen, Gillam & Kroeger designed winery and tasting room that captures their timeless values in a modern way.
Around the beautiful lake are two new hospitality spaces, the Boat House and the Greenhouse, designed in simple barn vernacular. Leslie Rudd’s investment in the look and preservation of historic properties was born out of respect for Napa from the moment he and wife Susan arrived from Wichita and it hasn’t changed. Samantha said that “some people come here to put their name on it. He got to know the roots of Napa Valley and put them on a pedestal.”
The Boat House shows a clarity of vision with its open board construction and glass-enclosed tasting room. Samantha said her father’s vision “was bigger than the business. He wanted to invest in Napa, it was never about making the best wine” although of course, that is the result of what they do.
The new state-of-art winery, the Workshop, was built to accommodate three styles of native fermentation – small barrel, stainless steel and concrete – to allow winemaker Frederick Ammons to craft the best possible wine for each vintage and vineyard expression.
At Rudd, traditional methods enhanced by innovative techniques are the core of true craftsmanship. Here, inverted stainless steel cones permit a gentler ferment that brings out the feminine side of fruit grown on alluvial soils while the conical vats reveal the power of fruit from the rockier southern vineyards.
Samantha, who has spent the last decade taking on challenges around the world including an internship at Chateau Margaux, hopes to build on her father’s vision in her own style working with the community, supporting local issues and exploring food and wine in a different, creative way, for example, with a new artist-in-residence program that may feature a perfumer, geologist or ceramicist. While her father has played a major role in building the food and wine culture in Napa with Dean & Deluca (sold in 2014), Oakville Grocery and Press Restaurant, for now, Rudd Oakville Estate will focus on the wine experience at the peaceful estate Samantha feels is “so magical because it has a soul.”
Rudd Oakville Estate is open by appointment.
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