Vintage Reserve is a Bundschu family tradition that began in 1981. Every vintage since, we have crafted a limited bottling from the most elegant and expressive barrels. The 2010 vintage release marked the 30th release of VR. And we've just been getting better. The 2009 VR was rated 94 points (and picked as a "Cellar Selection") by Wine Enthusiast and the 2010 VR received 94 points from Robert Parker. We think these wines represent the very highest quality Sonoma Valley has to offer. The 2011 release is available now.
Learn about the new label series and artist
It all starts in the vineyard. Most of the grapes that go into Vintage Reserve come from the sections of Rhinefarm at the very highest elevations (150-400 feet) and are grown in a rocky, volcanic soil known as rhyolite. Standing at 400 feet, as Rhinefarm stretches in the distance, you can see the light, volcanic rock (called tufa) that broke down over millions of years to form the soil on which you stand.
When we first began to plan the Vintage Reserve program more than 30 years ago, we first identified the very best blocks in our estate vineyard and paid extra special attention to the vines there. We still care for them painstakingly today. No expense is spared in in the farming of these blocks. Just very best berries from the best clusters from the best vines from the best rows from the best blocks are picked and pressed.
Only the very highest quality grapes ever have a chance at making it into a Vintage Reserve barrel. The grapes are meticulously sorted using state of the art equipment -- you can feel the excitement on the days of harvest when the optical sorter is on the crushpad. There's no doubt -- something special is happening. With the aid of the sorter our winemaking team selects only the finest grapes, those of the desired shape, color and size, to be pressed and fermented as potential Vintage Reserve.
It doesn't stop when the wine goes into barrel.
From these barrels, winemakers Keith Emerson and Anne Dempsey select the very best ones to create the blend worthy of the Vintage Reserve label.
And the labels themselves have been just as special as what's inside the bottle since day one. Artists are comissioned to create unique art for each vintage, in series ranging from odes to ancient winemaking world to homages to our family's more recent history to images inspired by the very modern.
Each Vintage Reserve label since the first in 1981 has been the work of an artist. The 2010 represented the culmination of the American Landscape series: The previous five featured artists from New Orleans, Chicago, Maine, Santa Fe and the Pacific Northwest, depicting meaningful representations of their homes. The 2010 label, the final in the series, brought it all back home to Rhinefarm with a depiction of the pair of watusi cattle raised by Jim and Nancy Bundschu right here alongside top cabernet sauvignon vines, but it began with a roadtrip. Traveling the country to commemorate our winery’s 150th anniversary inspired us to create a series of Vintage Reserve labels celebrating America’s diverse communities and our common passion.
In 2011 we launched a new series of labels, all the work of a single artist: Nate Reifke, who has a long history of working with the Bundschu family. For the Groundworks series Nate came to Rhinefarm, creating paint from the Huichica clay loam and tufa soils that the vines grow in and painting his environmental artworks all around the 300+ acres of Rhinefarm. His photographs then provided the only record of the artwork, which time and the elements soon erode—Nate may be the only human to ever see the original works. "Echo" is the first in the series.