Wine Country Personality: April 2009 Archives

Wine Country Personality: Rodney Strong

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RStrongHIGHRES.jpgFifty years ago, Rodney Strong started a winery that would ultimately become his namesake Rodney Strong Vineyards, in the northern Sonoma County town of Healdsburg.  It didn't start out that way, first blending wines and selling them with his wife, Charlotte from their home next to the Tiburon yacht club.  Their first wine was actually labeled Tiburon Vintners.

They did move here, though, and Rod became a significant influence in Sonoma County's budding wine industry in the 1960s and 1970s.  It's a fact, as dancer in his younger years, attending the School of American Ballet in New York and traveling to France to dance at the Lido, that neither he or anyone else would have predicted.  When he arrived in the county, the name changed to Windsor Vineyards, then to Sonoma Vineyards and eventually to Rodney Strong Vineyards in 1982.  Along the way, Rod was one of the first to plant pinot noir in Russian River Valley, the first to produce and release a Chalk Hill chardonnay and the first make a single vineyard cabernet in Sonoma County from Alexander's Crown in Alexander Valley

richard barrel room cropped.jpgWinemaster Richard Arrowood
Born in San Francisco and raised in Santa Rosa, California, Richard started his winemaking career in 1965 at Korbel Champagne Cellars, after earning a degree in organic chemistry at California State University, Sacramento and completing graduate work in enology at California State University, Fresno.  From Korbel he moved on, first to United Vintners, the Sonoma Vineyards, and in 1974 was chosen by the founders of Chateau St. Jean Winery to become the first employee as Winemaster, and eventually, executive vice president.  Chateau St. Jean wines quickly received critical acclaim and Richard gained a worldwide reputation for producing superb wines, 

In April, 1990, after sixteen years with Chateau St. Jean, Richard once again moved on--to devote himself full-time to Arrowood Vineyards & Winery.  It is here that Richard has been able to achieve his goal of producing wines of singular, exceptional quality, without compromise.

His original plan was to produce reserve quality Chardonnay and Cabernet Sauvignon only; however, Richard's drive and passion for making wine left him unable to resist working with unusual varietals and what he considered to be exceptional fruit.  The Arrowood portfolio has expanded to include limited quantities of Merlot, Viognier, Pinot Blanc, Late Harvest wines, Malbec, Syrah, Gewürztraminer, La Rose, and a few special reserve wines.