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Van Ruiten Family Vineyards
Terry Sullivan

Van Ruiten Family VineyardsSummary: The Van Ruiten Family Vineyards' tasting room is located at the winery site on Rt. 12 in Lodi. You will often see a family member in the tasting room helping and talking with visitors.

John Van Ruiten immigrated to the United States from Holland after World War II. In Holland, John was a dairy farmer. He also made distilled spirits. During the war, the Germans had him making moonshine for them. The family is proud to note that John did not like doing this so he made a very high alcohol drink. He enjoyed watching the German soldiers drinking too much and getting ill.

Van Ruiten Family VineyardsWhen John came to the United States, he made the Lodi area his new home. At first he began as a dairy farmer. Then he noticed that during the winters, he had to deal with cattle. His neighbors had vineyards and it seemed that they had a more relaxing time then John had. In the early 1950s, he bought a property and established his first vineyard planting Zinfandel grapevines. John also acquired a vineyard already planted with Zinfandel. Within ten years the dairy farm business was abolished and the vineyard business was in full production.

For three generations, the Van Ruiten family continued to farm the vineyards as well as expand. They now have 800 acres under vine on 1,000 acres of property. Three generations of the family work in the vineyards and the winery. We met John’s son, Jim and Jim’s daughter Jessica. The Van Ruiten Family Vineyards are family oriented. There is always a family member in the tasting room, greeting and meeting guests. Jessica conducted our wine tasting and told us about the family. She did refer to her father for the stories he liked to talk about.


Van Ruiten Family VineyardsThe Van Ruiten family farms 800 acres of vineyards. There are 380 acres at the winery site. The workers follow sustainable practices. Zinfandel is the most widely planted variety in the vineyards. Deep, well drained soils are needed for Zinfandel to flourish and the soils in the vineyard meet that requirement. Zinfandel also benefits from the delta. The cool afternoon breezes help to produce ripe fruits with well developed phenolics.


For the beginning decades, wine grapes farmed on the Van Ruiten Vineyards were sold to wineries. In 1999 the family made the decision to make their own wine as well as sell grapes to other wineries. The winery building was completed in 2000 and a tasting room was added in 2001.

The winery produces 45,000 cases with distribution to 22 states and China.

Van Ruiten Family VineyardsWines

We tasted several wines with Jessica. Some of the wine labels won an award for the best label by the Tag and Label Manufacturers Institute. The label is made of two labels fused together by the family seal.

The 2013 Chardonnay Lodi AVA was a pale yellow color with 14.5% alcohol. The wine offered oak, a smooth mouthfeel and tropical fruits. The 2013 Sauvignon Blanc Lodi AVA was a light yellow color with 14.5% alcohol. The wine aromas reminds one of spring.

Van Ruiten Family VineyardsThe 2010 Ancient Vine Carigane Lodi AVA was a translucent ruby color with 15.0% alcohol. The wine offered earth notes and dark fruit. It had medium/bold tannins, was full-bodied and had high acidity. The 2011 Cab-Sheraz Lodi AVA offered a translucent ruby color with 14.25% alcohol. The wine had dark fruits and spices such as cinnamon and cloves. It had medium/bold tannins, a full-body and high acidity. The wine retails for $18.99. The 2012 Cabernet Sauvignon Lodi AVA was an opaque, dark purple with 13.1% alcohol. The aroma and taste was reminiscent of blackberries, cassis and spices. The wine had bold tannins, a full-body with medium acidity. There was a perceived sweetness to the wine even though it was dry. The wine retails for $18.99.

Two Zinfandels were tasted. The 2011 Old Vine Zinfandel Lodi AVA was a translucent ruby color with a sienna hue at 15.5% alcohol. The wine had notes of blueberries and black raspberries. There were bold tannins on the full-bodied wine that had a medium/high acidity. The wine retails for $24.99. The 2011 Zinfandel Sideways Reserve Lodi AVA was also a translucent ruby color with a sienna hue. It measured 15.75% alcohol. There was a slight perfume scent on the aroma and the taste offered blueberries, black cherries and spices. The wine had bold tannins, a full-body and medium/high acidity.

Family is important at the Van Ruiten Family Vineyards. Visit the comfortable tasting room and experience wines the family is proud to craft.

Van Ruiten Family Vineyards
340 W. Highway 12
Lodi, California 95242

N38º 06.911’ W121º 19.197’



Article written September 2014

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