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Venge Vineyards Acquires Robert Rue Vineyard and Winery in the Russian River Valley

Venge Vineyards of Calistoga has acquired the Robert Rue Vineyard and Winery in Sonoma County’s Russian River Valley and renamed it Croix Estate.


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Well-known for his highly rated, allocation-only, small-lot wines, third-generation Napa Valley winemaker, Kirk P. Venge said he plans to use Croix Estate for small-production, luxury-class, single-vineyard Chardonnay and Pinot Noir wines.


He said he also plans to use the facility as a “skunk works” to experiment with a variety of styles and techniques including a  “field blend” Pinot and several blended wines.


“We are absolute wine geeks at heart and cannot resist the calling of producing wines that speak to history and heritage within their region,” said Venge.


“I am very excited to get underway with reopening the property. It will be a private, non-public experience – a place off the beaten path – and a haven for enthusiasts of Chardonnay and Pinot Noir. Oh yeah, and killer Zinfandel in the future as well,” he said.


Croix Estate wines have been custom-crushed with Russian River Valley fruit since 2012 at Venge Winery, south of Calistoga. Those wines are handled by several distributors including Davies Family Selections.


Fulfilling a “crossover” dream


“My family has been an integral part of the winegrowing community in Napa Valley for several decades now. When I acquired the Venge Vineyards brand from my father in 2008 and built our winery here in Calistoga, we often talked about one day crossing county lines to build another winery in Sonoma,” said Venge.


“The acquisition of this gem of a property in the Russian River Valley comes at an ideal crossing point to make that dream come true,” he added.


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The Rue Winery, located near Fulton, was established in 2008 and specialized in crafting small lots of award-winning Zinfandel produced from the estate’s century-old vines.


Venge’s purchase included a permitted 5,000 case winery and tasting room, hospitality gardens, a Victorian period farmhouse and 8 acres of 105-year-old vines, from Russian River Valley farmlands.


Why Croix?





Venge said he chose the winery name Croix — French for Cross — because of “situational convergences we crossed over throughout the founding of the project. It’s been my dream to ‘cross the regional divide’ between Napa Valley and Sonoma County and build a Russian River Valley legacy in Chardonnays and Pinot Noirs.


“I also think it represents the convergence of winegrowing ideals old and new, and our ability to take the best practices of our craft an apply them accordingly.”




The plan

“Our relationships with the Dutton and the Bacigalupi families are a solid foundation from which we have been producing wine under the Croix label since 2012,” Venge said. “Those early vintages have informed the project to such a degree that purchasing a winery in this community was a natural progression in the process.”Screen Shot 2016-04-18 at 1.42.28 PM




According to a company backgrounder:

We made a purposeful decision to plant our Sonoma County roots with one of the most talented farming operations in the region—Dutton Ranch. Their commitment to non-invasive and sustainable management is a mirror image of our vineyard stewardship in Napa Valley.


Their knowledge and ownership of the region’s finest vineyard sites provides us with unique access to many regional climates and convergences, resulting in superior wines from the onset. We have long term contracts in place at Morelli Vineyard, Manzana Vineyard, Thomas Road Vineyard, Jewell Vineyard, and Freestone Vineyard. We work closely with the Dutton Ranch team to perfect our style and control the picking times accordingly. We have long term plans in place to acquire property to grow our estate vineyard holdings in the Russian River AVA. This site will also feature a state-of-the-art winemaking facility.


Wine Industry Insight advertising the key to finding the property


In an email to Wine Industry Insight, Venge said he learned of the property being for sale by reading a Wine Country Classifieds advertisement in WII’s daily News Fetch email briefing.


“I remember the day quite clearly,” wrote Venge. “It was last year just after Christmas and before New Year’s, as memory serves, in the classified strip, on my way to scrolling to “Down Under.” (I always look in there for news of my other favorite winegrowing locale, Central Otago, where we make 6 tons a year of Pinot.)


“It’s all because of Wine Industry Insight that we have this new winery to house the Croix venture! The universe at work!,” he concluded.