Hi! I’m Ed Morris, winemaker for Ron Rubin Winery, home of River Road Family Vineyards located in the heart of Russian River Valley. After a long and warm summer, Sonoma County welcomed colder temperatures and received much anticipated rain. This weather change has provided exceptionally cold nights in the Russian River Valley with temperatures at night dropping into the low 20s. Thankfully, this has been well received by the grapevines which require a period of cold weather to push them into dormancy necessary for the vine’s health.

Fog rolling into the vineyard early morning

The leaves that were green have quickly turned red and yellow and have fallen to the ground. It is a visually striking time of year and to me officially marks the end to the growing season.

The vineyard from the Winery deck

This time of year marks a busy period in the vineyard setting the vines up to have a successful 2021 growing season. This success can be achieved by making sure the vines have plenty of nutrients stored in them prior to the winter dormancy period. Irrigation is an important element to ensuring proper nurturance. At Ron Rubin Winery, the vineyards are deeply rooted in Goldridge sandy loam soil. The Goldridge sandy loam soil allows for deep moisture reserves, holding in moisture so well that it helps hold off irrigation until a few weeks prior to next harvest. Once harvest is complete, the need to deeply irrigate is paramount in order to encourage root growth and movement of vital nutrients into the woody parts of the vines. This post-harvest irrigation goes a long way to produce a storage of energy for the vines to access next spring.

Drip irrigation line

In addition to irrigation, it is important to ensure proper replenishment of nitrogen and other nutrient levels in the grapevine. The vines consume significant nutrients in three different ways;

  1. Fertilizer which is applied through our drip irrigation lines. This will travel quickly into the root zone for immediate uptake and usage by the grapevines.
  2. Cover crops, or various plants and grasses, planted between vine rows. These cover crops add dense nutrients needed for optimal vine growth or simply to help keep nutrients rich in the soil.
  3. Organic compost is a final pre-winter application that adds slowly released nutrients to the vines and cover crop throughout the vineyard.

By working with our vineyard consultant team and by giving the vineyard year-round attention, our vines will be ready to perform at a high level again in 2021!


In the November Winemaking Notes, I mentioned the progression of the 2020 wines. Currently, the Russian River Valley Chardonnay is finished with the primary fermentations; where the yeast consume sugar and convert it to alcohol. I continually monitor the Russian River Chardonnay to ensure the wine has developed ripe fruit flavors, balanced oak, and bright acidity all intertwined with hints of butter or fresh cream. As a Cooper, I make sure to utilize the best oak available to compliment the fruit and to accomplish a balanced profile. Thus far in the process, the wine has wonderful notes of butter as well as a creamy texture that I personally love in this Russian River Valley Chardonnay. I am excited for the progress made so far and look forward to the finished wine!


While this year has been challenging, we still have a great deal to be thankful for. Most recently the 2017 Ron Rubin Russian River Valley Pinot Noir earned a glowing endorsement from Sonoma Magazine and was recognized as a Top 100 Sonoma Wine!

2017 Ron Rubin Russian River Valley Pinot Noir featured as a Top 100 Sonoma Wine

In addition, the winery has been able to remain true to one of our most important principles – giving back to the community. This year, Ron Rubin Winery is a presenting sponsor for the annual Dining Out for Life Sonoma County presented by Food for Thought. Food for Thought is a nonprofit organization that provides healing food and nutrition to more than 2,000 people living with HIV, COVID-19 and other serious illnesses in Sonoma County. The event will be held at participating Sonoma County restaurants on Thursday, December 3rd. If you are local and can participate, I encourage you to do so otherwise there are other opportunities to donate directly. These are just a few of the many things we are thankful for this year. I send warm wishes to all of you this holiday season and look forward to connecting again in the New Year. Until next month, cheers from the team here at Ron Rubin Winery!