About Us

Rob smiling

Orchestrator of Happiness

At around six years old, Rob picked his very first grapes on Rhinefarm while riding around in his dad’s pickup truck. When he grew a little older, he worked full-time during his summer breaks from school out in the vineyard. His responsibilities included cultivating and plowing the vineyards, installing irrigation piping, pruning, tying vines, and a wide assortment of other grape farming activities.

After graduating from the University of San Francisco with a B.S. in Marketing, Rob worked for Gundlach Bundschu Winery as the National Sales Manager. A couple of years later, he felt it was time to return to the vineyard, where he helped develop hillside land for a 60 acre Cabernet Sauvignon vineyard planting. Following this, he decided to take a long sabbatical and would spend the next decade or so traveling, working, and learning about how the world worked — spending time in Florida and Southern California before returning home to the Bay Area and Sonoma.

Today he is back with the winery and serves as the Orchestrator of Happiness, giving public tours, welcoming visitors, doing trade tours, off-site trade events, and contributing in other areas of the business where needed.

In his personal time, Rob enjoys going to the movies and finding peace in the present moment.

Man standing in front of wine barrels

Winemaker

He strives to strike the right balance between tradition and innovation. Never afraid to embrace new winemaking techniques but at the same time drawing on the Old World for inspiration and guidance. “My number one rule is to always let the vineyard and the vintage be the voice of the wine, not the Winemaker.” In his free time he enjoys spelunking, origami, and making charcuterie.

 

Keith smiling standing in front of a vineyard

Executive Winemaker

When Keith Emerson joined Gundlach Bundschu Winery as winemaker in December 2008, it was a sort of homecoming. A 1999 graduate of University of California at Davis, he served as Gundlach Bundschu associate winemaker from 2000 to 2004. He returns to the estate with a honed vision and proven experience to match his passion for the site.

After earning his degree, Keith spent a year at Cakebread Cellars before joining Gundlach Bundschu. In 2004, he worked a harvest at Palliser Estate in Martinborough, New Zealand, before returning to Northern California and becoming Director of Winemaking for Vineyard 29 in St. Helena, CA.

At Vineyard 29, Keith works closely with consultant Philippe Melka on the Vineyard 29 and Aida Estate wines and directs all aspects of winemaking for the CRU portfolio of wines.  He also oversees the winemaking programs for a number of custom-crush clients, such as Melka Wines and Skipstone Ranch, and works with several respected growers, including David Abreu, Mike Wolf, Jim Barbour, Piña Vineyard Management and Silverado Farming Company, among others.

Keith also consults for Robert Craig, Martin Ray, Vinoce, Levensohn, Knighton Family Vineyards and produces his own label of artisan Cabernet Sauvignon, Emerson Brown, as well as his own label of Shea Vineyard, Oregon Pinot Noir called Sonria.

It is Keith’s experience with these diverse vineyards that has inspired his return to Gundlach Bundschu.

“My goal as a winemaker is to tell the story of each vineyard site,” Emerson said. “I know the Gundlach Bundschu estate, and I believe strongly in its potential to produce stellar wines. I am extremely motivated to work with Jeff and the team to take these wines to the highest quality level.”

Keith lives in Napa, CA. and enjoys trail running and spending time with his two beautiful children.

Katie Bunschu

Katie Bundschu, Chief Marketing Officer

As a sixth generation vintner, Katie Bundschu always knew she would be involved in wine. It just took some time for her to determine when. As a youngster she was involved in various aspects of the business, including pruning and tying vines, harvesting grapes and working in both the tasting room and marketing department.

Katie attended the University of Colorado at Boulder, and decided after college to work in higher education. She spent years in fundraising and donor relations for the University of California, Berkeley and the University of Colorado, Boulder before being drawn back to Sonoma. In April of 2012, Katie returned on a full-time basis to her family business, first as the winery’s Marketing Manager where she coordinated all marketing efforts for the multiple channels at the winery, and more recently in the role of Vice President, Marketing & Sales for Bundschu Company.

“I am constantly inspired by the dedication and resolve of my family throughout the generations. I take pride in my family history and want to be sure to share it with anyone who can appreciate not only an amazing bottle of wine, but the story that accompanies it.”

Katie strives to continue the legacy and history of her family by creating distinctive, iconic wines that define the highest standards in Sonoma, all while having fun and enjoying the process along the way.

Jim smiling

Jim Bundschu is the quintessential down-to-earth farmer, completely devoted to the Sonoma County vineyard land cultivated by four generations before him. Growing up on Gundlach Bundschu Winery’s Rhinefarm, he was so mesmerized by his walk through the vineyards on his way to school that he never doubted he would carry on his family’s tradition. Today he still works closely with his son, Jeff Bundschu, who serves as president.

After graduating from the University of California at Berkeley with a bachelor’s degree in agriculture economics, Bundschu returned to the winery to undertake the most important project it had seen in decades.

Since 1933 the winery had been closed due to Prohibition, and the grapes grown at Rhinefarm were sold to other wineries. In 1969, Jim Bundschu began the four-year project of fully replanting the vineyard to premium varietal wine grapes. In 1970, Jim was named president of the resurrected Gundlach Bundschu Winery, and in 1973 the family celebrated the first crush of the new winery.

“My highest aim is to be a good farmer,” says Jim, “one who understands the subtle nuances involved in producing grapes for exceptional wines vintage after vintage, no matter what conditions Mother Nature might produce.”

Bundschu also maintains his connection with earlier generations by living in a stone house constructed in 1906 that overlooks the vineyards. When he’s not farming grapes he prefers to stay outdoors—fishing, skiing, backpacking, flying or playing baseball. If the weather keeps him inside, he finds equal pleasure in reading and playing his saxophone.

Jeff talking into a microphone

President

Jeff Bundschu is no stranger to the lure of the vine—as a sixth-generation California vintner, wine has been in his family since 1858. Jeff was raised on the family estate in Sonoma and began working on the vineyards at 12 years old. Jeff attended college in Los Angeles, where he earned a degree in International Relations from the University of Southern California. An intrepid explorer, he traveled extensively following graduation.

In 1993, he returned to Sonoma Valley, surrendering to the powerful pull of the (fun) six-generation family business. Already knowing his way around the winery from his childhood, he took on learning sales and marketing by representing Bundschu Company and their oldest brand, Gundlach Bundschu, throughout the country. This experience convinced him that the wine industry needed to expand its outreach and approachability to a larger portion of the population, leading him to co-found The Wine Brats, an organization focused on educating a new generation of wine consumers.

In a circumstance unique to traditional family businesses, Jeff was appointed President of Gundlach Bundschu Winery in 2001, at the age of 33. His father, Jim, had similarly taken the reins at a young age, convincing his father to redefine the estate vision to meet the opportunities and challenges of the day. And so Jim handed control to Jeff, who set out to achieve a vision of Gundlach Bundschu – to be the best estate winery in Sonoma County.

Equally important to Jeff is the preservation of the open-minded and spirited culture with which the winery has long been associated—which he today brings to the parent company, Bundschu Company, its brands and experiences.

“Our life here at Bundschu Company, with its wine and good people, has always been about laughter, hard work, enjoying the inspiration that comes from being in such a beautiful place, and sharing what we have with our friends and neighbors.”

Jeff makes his home in Sonoma with his wife Elizabeth and their two children.

 

For six generations and over 160 years, the Bundschu family has farmed the Rhinefarm estate vineyard at the crossroads of the Sonoma Valley, Carneros and Napa Valley appellations. Today, we focus on making small lots of ultra-premium wines from this distinctive and historic property.