Founding father of the Diamond Mountain District
Rudy Von Strasser is the man behind Napa’s legendary winery Von Strasser – and its famed Diamond Mountain Cabernet. In fact, he’s the reason ‘Diamond Mountain District’ shows up on wine lists – he advocated to make it an official valley AVA (American Viticultural Appellation) back in 1999.
Your fellow winemakers Alex Farber and Ryan O’Connell met Rudy when he was in a tight spot – he wanted to produce a top-quality Petite Sirah he loved, but had no room in the winery for...
Angels came to the rescue then – now he's paying YOU the ultimate thank you... by sharing more of his famous wines. Including the flagship Diamond Mountain Cab he loves most!
Rudy Von Strasser’s journey into winemaking actually began at the University of New Hampshire while studying agriculture. His goal was to be “The King of Hard Cider” – he even wrote his thesis on hard-cider production. Deciding to travel the country for research, Rudy took up a job at Robert Mondavi Winery with intention to take tips-and-tricks from the wine industry to apply to cider production. It was a year-long job with an unintended consequence.
He accidentally fell in love with wine instead.
Like so many winemakers before him, Rudy then enrolled in the famed Enology program at UC Davis – the west coast mecca for wine education. However, unlike anyone before him, Rudy took a chance and wrote a letter to Eric de Rothschild (of the world-famous Chateau Lafite-Rothschild) asking for an internship for a harvest.
He became the first American to receive this internship and spent the 1985 harvest working at the Chateau. When he returned, Rudy worked at Trefethen in the cellar and then Newton Vineyards as the assistant winemaker under John Kongsgaard. These experiences would end up building the winemaking foundation Rudy would use for Von Strasser Winery and its distinct style.
Summiting Diamond Mountain - a new Napa Valley AVA
In 1990, Rudy and Rita Von Strasser found the perfect site to build a winery, as well as live and raise their three children. It was in northern Napa Valley, neighboring Diamond Creek – an area known for producing exceptional Cabernet Sauvignon.
When the Von Strassers purchased the 30-acre property, it was formally Roddis Estates – the home to 6 existing acres of Cabernet. Over the next 30 years, the Von Strasser family would work painstakingly and passionately to showcase their little piece of paradise. That work would include christening Diamond Mountain District as a Napa AVA – making it the smallest, niche region in the valley. And one of its most famous for Cab.
Von Strasser Winery made its mark in wine history with Diamond Mountain District wines. Not only did Rudy spearhead the effort to turn Diamond Mountain into a recognized wine region, he assembled a core group of neighboring grapegrowers to make wines with – to unprecedented success. In those two plus decades, Von Strasser was named Wine and Spirits Magazine's Winery of the Year 13 times.
But Rudy is ever the treasure hunter...
And in 2015, a new opportunity presented itself to Rudy and Rita that they were eager to jump on: Lava Vine Winery. It was a small tasting room and winery just across the valley with its own cult following – a fervent fan base that loved the “alternative varietals” to Cab, including Pinot Noir, Zinfandel, Tempranillo, Petite Sirah and many more small-lot projects. Rudy's eyes twinkled at the challenge.
Today, the Von Strasser family produces Rudy, Lava Vine and Von Strasser wines. "Von Strasser continues to be our flagship – specifically, single-vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon," says Rudy. "Lava Vine is our 'ABC' wine: Anything But Cabernet." As for the Rudy brand, it's "négociant-style, where you get the best value. While we do make many wines now, these wines are very exclusive – with limited case production."
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How Angel funding changed him
In 2018, Angel-funded winemakers Alexandra Farber and Ryan O’Connell met this Napa icon – and learned that he had purchased some killer fruit from Suisun Valley for Lava Vine, including a lot of organic Petite Sirah – but the winery was full… and he needed someone new to take it on. Rudy was looking for a home for an amazing wine – and it was the first time Angels came to his rescue.
Rudy was pleased as punch to share his wine with Angels – now he's ready to share more... including a few special bottles of that flagship Cabernet – his first and dearest claim to fame.
Rudy's making nakedwines.com history by introducing Diamond Mountain District Cabernet to Angels – made by the region's founder himself. By investing in Rudy, Angels are introducing wine drinkers around the world to the magic of Diamond Mountain – both legends, through and through.
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