Although surrounded by vineyards, Jeff Runquist Wines grows no grapes. We know our strengths and prefer to focus our resources on producing wines that reflect the passion of the growers with whom we partner. Rather than limit ourselves to the varieties that grow well on our property and in our neighborhood we search throughout California for the ideal match of grape to soil climate and personality. I am often asked how I decide which grapes to purchase. The answer is that the grapes made that decision years ago. For nineteen years I made wine for other wineries before launching our own. During that time I made wine at Montevina, the Napa Valley Cooperative Winery, J. Lohr, and McManis Family Vineyards and I discovered the growers that produced fruit that was successful. Over the years I developed my favorites, and it was an easy choice to return to these friends to fuel our production.
When one looks at the portfolio of wines we offer, one sees a road map of my career. We produce six wines from the Sierra Foothills, three from the Napa Valley, and two from Paso Robles. My time in the northern interior introduced me to the grapes and growers of the Lodi, Clarksburg and River Junction appellations. These regions provide us with another nine different varieties. It seems that every year brings a new grape or opportunity to us, and our exploration and adventures with these new varieties and growers keeps us fresh and alive.
Many times it is assumed that I direct the vineyard operations, and most folks are surprised that I don't. In fact some are flabbergasted to learn that I don't tell most of our growers when to pick. While my ego is plenty big, I am not arrogant enough to think that I will know a grower's vineyard better than they do. Our relationship is a partnership and we work with growers that share our passion and know the value of harvesting grapes at their peak of flavor, color and character. When to pick is their decision and part of their contribution to our wines. From every vintage, the first case of wine we bottle is returned to the grower and we perpetually refine our efforts to deliver the flavors distinctive to their vineyards. This partnership is declared on every bottle of our wine. After the varietal, the vineyard is identified along with its appellation; next comes the growers name and then mine as the vintner. For a long time I have felt that the growers don't get the credit they deserve and this is my way of publically recognizing their expertise and efforts.
This unique and untraditional business model allows us to be nimble and pursue the flavors in vogue in the marketplace. When a venture is successful we can often grow production to match demand and when it is not we have not invested the capital to establish a vineyard and an exit is less costly. By not having resources tied up in vineyards we are able to provide our wines the finest treatment in the cellar and provide our clientele a wine with merit.