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Rudy Zuidema

Rudy was born in Sacramento, California, and grew up in the nearby agricultural community of Davis. Building on a love of the outdoors and an interest in farming, Rudy studied Plant Science and Agricultural Management at the University of California, Davis, where he focused on viticulture.

Upon graduating from UC Davis in 1991, Rudy moved to Napa and worked at the famed Oakville Grocery where he was inspired to pursue his desire to make wine. Working alongside wine buyer Mary Danielak, Rudy tasted thousands of wines, refining his palate and expanding his base of knowledge about vineyards, vintages, and winemaking styles.

Rudy was eager to gain hands-on winemaking experience so he traveled to Australia’s McLaren Vale in 1993 to work under the guidance of winemaker Ben Riggs at Wirra Wirra Winery. While there, Rudy gained a true appreciation of the meticulous methods needed in achieving ideal ripeness, cap management, and extraction that continue on today as the cornerstone of his winemaking approach and philosophy,

After returning to the United States, Rudy worked for St. Clement Vineyards and White Cottage Ranch under his mentor Dennis Johns. From there he moved on to such respected wineries as Cuvaison and Honig Vineyard, where Rudy was the assistant winemaker working alongside James Hall, of Patz and Hall Wine Company.

Rudy joined Robert Craig Winery in 1996 as winemaker, where he spent the next seven years focusing on terroir-driven Cabernet Sauvignon production from Howell Mountain, Mount Veeder, and the Napa Valley floor.

Eager to combine his love of agriculture and winemaking, Rudy moved on to the position of both winemaker and vineyard manager for Ehlers Estate in 2003. In that dual capacity, Rudy’s vision of winemaking continued to grow along with the valuable insight gained by working with acclaimed consultant Philippe Melka. Rudy’s ideal approach to winemaking begins with his involvement in the viticultural regimens, and the valuable lessons learned in his five years at Ehlers have afforded him the opportunity to experience a seamless integration between the vineyard and winery.

Rudy’s passion and dual focus on winemaking for small estate programs has never been more evident than in his role with Shadybrook Estate. In the vineyard, he follows organic and biodynamic farming practices to naturally enhance the flavor diversity demonstrated by the vineyard’s rich tapestry of individual blocks. Rudy’s natural approach continues in the winery where he emphasizes classic, small-lot techniques and gentle handling to craft balanced wines that embody a sense of elegance, purity and power. 

As of February 1st, 2016, Rudy has taken on the additional role of winemaker at the Alkosser's new property, Chateau Lane Winery. Here, Rudy can continue his exploration of the unique terroir of the Coombsville AVA, utilizing his dual skill set of winemaking and vineyard management to create exciting new wines from the estate's Reverance Vineyard. We can't wait to see what his innate talent and years of experience will bring to our estate fruit!