Van Ruiten Wines Are a Family Affair The Van Ruiten Family Winery is run by three generations tackling everything from the vineyard to the sales. BY TOURING & TASTING
Photos courtesy of Van Ruiten Family Winery
Winemaker Matt Ridge shows off the harvest.
“ The Van Ruiten Family Winery tasting room was voted Best Winery and Tasting Room by The Record’s Best of San Joaquin in 2011, 2012, and 2013.”
Van Ruiten Family Winery in Lodi, California, was founded 15 years ago, but its wine-growing history dates back more than 65 years. The winery was founded on John Van Ruiten Sr.’s philosophy that "exceptional grape growing should focus on the quality of grapes that come out of the vineyard, not the quantity."
The addition of Winemaker Matt Ridge in 2012 helped fortify this philosophy. With a bachelor’s degree in biology and minors in chemistry and geology, Matt understands winemaking from the molecular level up. Matt claims it wasn’t until his first vintage in 1999 when he tasted the flavor transition from fruit to bottle that he fully caught the "wine bug." Since then, he has gained a wealth of experience: crafting Pinot Noir from the Sonoma Coast, Chardonnay from the Russian River Valley, Cabernet from Alexander Valley, and Sauvignon Blanc in New Zealand. He now has his pick from 1,000 acres of vineyards farmed by the Van Ruiten family, and chooses only the best fruit for wines that bear the family name.
Currently, three Van Ruiten generations are involved in the operations ranging from vineyard management to production and sales. The family continues to explore and implement new advances in sustainability and energy efficiency as conditions evolve in management from the vineyards to Matt’s winemaking facility. They are dedicated to putting back into the land that which they take from it.
The Van Ruiten Family Winery tasting room was voted Best Winery and Tasting Room by The Record’s Best of San Joaquin in 2011, 2012, and 2013. It’s a wonderful place to sample from the winery’s superb portfolio of 12 varietals, including Carignane from 106-year-old vines and Zinfandel from the first vineyard John Sr. planted in the 1950s. Guests relax on the outdoor patio and enjoy tasting wines served by a knowledgeable staff that enhance their overall wine tasting experience.
What to Buy '11 Old Vine Zinfandel - $22.99
Plum, cedar, currants, black cherries