Van Ruiten Family Vineyards was founded by Dutch immigrant John Van Ruiten. After his arrival in the United States shortly after World War II, he settled in the Lodi area and began farming over 800 acres of wine grapes. For the next 50 years Van Ruiten vineyards grew grapes that sourced were by other wineries. Then in 1999 the family began producing their own wine from their estate vineyards. A year later in the year 2000 they opened a state-of-the-art winery among their vineyards along Highway 12 and the next year they opened their quaint tasting room. Then in 2007 they planted of 40 acres of Primitivo vineyard which originated in the Puglia region of Italy. This red varietal, also known as Zingarello, is genetically related to California’s Zinfandel. After five decades the family farms an estimated 1000 acres of wine grapes, with only their best fruit destined to carry the family name. Today three generations of the Van Ruiten family work together tending the vineyards, producing wine and managing the winery.
Van Ruiten has two tasting line-ups, the “Signature Flight” ($5) and the “Reserves Flight” ($10). The primary difference in winemaking style is that the former are made with American Oak while the Reserves are made with French Oak barrels. Since I was spitting the wine in order to avoid intoxication I decided to sample both flights. While visiting I tasted the following wines:
The first pour was from the “Signature Flight,” the 2012 Pinot Grigio. On the nose this wine is very floral with aromas of orange blossoms and honeysuckles followed by pears and tangerines. On the palate this wine is fairly light with medium (-) body, crisp acidity and a lingering lemon and mineral finish. A nice wine for only $14 a bottle.
The second wine was also from the “Signature Flight,” the 2012 Chardonnay. Recently released, this wine is fermented 50% in oak and 50% in stainless steel. On the nose I picked up subtle tropical notes, pears, and melon. On the palate it is dry, full bodied and round, medium acidity with just a hint of oak and butter and a medium (+) length finish. This wine sells at a fair price for only $15 a bottle.
The third wine was from the “Reserves Flight,” 2009 “Double Barrel” Chardonnay. This wine is barrel fermented and barrel aged. On the nose it has aromas of freshly popped popcorn, butter, marshmallows, caramel, butterscotch, baked pears and apple pie crust. It is full bodied with medium acidity and it has a long finish. This wine sells for only $23 a bottle and I have tasted many like it that sold for over $30.
The fourth wine and first red was from the “Signature Flight,” the 2010 Cabernet Sauvignon. This wine is deep ruby red with big ripe fruit on the nose, blackberries, cherries and cassis. On the palate it has explosive fruit, silky tannins, medium weight and acidity and it has a hint of anise on medium length finish. This wine is fairly priced at $19 a bottle.
The fifth wine was from the “Reserves Flight,” the 2010 “Reserve” Cabernet Sauvignon. This wine is similar to the previous Cab but with additional notes of black currants, a hint of pepper and vanilla and a touch of earth and it isn’t as much of a fruit bomb. This wine sells for $35 a bottle but it doesn't quiet compete with many Napa Valley Cabs that sell for the same price.
The sixth sample was the 2010 “Reserve” Merlot, which was also from the “Reserves Flight.” This wine has subtle notes of black cherries and spice, it is medium bodied and a medium length finish. This wine sells for $35 a bottle but it doesn't quiet compete with many Napa Valley Merlots that sell for the same price.
The seventh pour, from the “Signature Flight,” was the 2010 Old Vine Zinfandel. On the nose this wine delivers aromas of blueberry jam, dried black fruits, a hint of cigar box and anise. It is medium bodied with medium acidity, well balanced and has a long finish. This wine sells for $23 a bottle.
The eighth sample, from the “Reserves Flight,” was the 2010 “Sideways” Lot. No. 69 Zinfandel. This wine is bigger, jammier with more ripe fruits, vanilla and a hint of freshly cracked black pepper. It is fruit forward with ample mouth-watering acidity and a medium (+) length finish. I definitely preferred this Zin to the previous wine, but it has a heftier price tag at $34.69 a bottle.
The ninth wine was from the “Signature Flight,” the 2010 Petite Sirah. This wine displays subtle aromas of dark plums, spice and a hint of herbs. On the palate it is fruit forward with a touch of sweetness on entry with silky tannins, medium body and a medium length finish. This wine is fairly priced at $20 a bottle.
The final wine in the line-up was from the “Reserves Flight,” the 2010 “Reserve” Shiraz. This wine is intense ruby red that stains the glass when swirled. On the nose it has aromas blackberry jam, plums, a hint of smoke, beef jerky and black pepper. On entry this wine is luscious with a touch of sweetness, silky tannins, medium body, and mouth-watering acidity. It is well balanced and has a long finish with a touch of pepper on the return. This was my favorite wine in the line-up so I brought a bottle home for $35.
To see more pictures of Van Ruiten Family Vineyards, check out Erik Wait’s Wine Country Photography at:
For more information or to visit:
Van Ruiten Family Winery
340 West Highway 12
Lodi, CA 95242
Phone: 1- 866-334-5722