Rudy von Strasser
Winemaker, von Strasser & Lava Vine Winery
I started in the wine business in a roundabout way. I was studying apple farming at University of New Hampshire, and I wrote my senior paper on producing hard-cider using local organic apples. I decided upon graduating that I would like to pursue this dream, but had no mentor to teach me how to make cider. So in 1981 I decided to come to Napa Valley, thinking if I could learn to make wine, I could take this knowledge for my cider.
I worked for about a year at Robert Mondavi Winery, and not only fell in love with wine, but also California. This enthusiasm made me enroll back into college at UCD, where I recieved a second degree, in enology. Upon graduating, I wanted to focus on Cabernet Sauvignon so I looked to connections had in Bordeaux and was able to talk myself into an internship at Chateau Lafite-Rothschild, where in 1985 I became the first California intern. Upon returning, I became the enologist at Trefethen for two years, then assistant winemaker at Newton Vineyard for three years. In 1990, I fullfilled the dream and bought a small ranch on Diamond Mountain which now is the home to my winery.
Country born: United States
Education: See above experience section for my comlplete Bio
Years in the wine industry: 30+ years
Honors / Awards:
'Winery of the Year' for 11 of the past 12 years for Wine and Spirits Magazine; 'Wine of the Year' - Connoisseurs Guide to Fine Wine; 'Value Winery of the Year' - Wine and Spirits magazine 2009; 'Prince of Cabernet' and magazine cover - The Wine News; Gold and Silver Medals in 2011 & 2012 at AWC-Vienna, Austria for Gruner Veltliner
I believe wines should be elegant. The most important flavors of a wine need to be those which come for the vineyard and show the terroir. If a wine carries too much of a winemaker’s “muscle”—like oak, alcohol—then it becomes generic and no longer a product of a place. Since I make seven different bottlings from Diamond Mountain District, I want each vineyard to taste unique due to the soils, exposure, farming techniques, etc.