“When we started RD Winery in 2012, our board thought we’d only produce wine to ship to Vietnam,” said Mailynh Phan, CEO of RD Winery in Napa. “For six years, that’s all we did. In 2020, our board decided to expand and sell to the U.S. market. We opened our tasting room to the public and feature Napa’s first all-Asian pairing menu. Although we have a 600,000-gallon wine permit, we only make a fraction of that.”
RD Winery varieties include
Rosé, Gruner Veltliner, Chenin Blanc, Malvasia Bianca, Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc, Syrah, Grenache, Cabernet Sauvignon, Zinfandel and its new Khoai Pinot Noir and Chardonnay releases. The winery can bottle 280,000 cases but bottle only 5,000 for themselves. This season, RD crushed 550 tons of grapes, just 65 were theirs.
Phan said the winery’s owner Dong Van Nguyen, who resides in Vietnam, supported her idea to “get creative” and open their large space to smaller brands who are just beginning and other brands wishing to expand. They call it RD Winery Collective.
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Wine isn’t all that’s made in the facility, which once housed Hakusan Saki and later Napa Smith Beer. Current partners in the collective include Hanabi Lager Company, Bardos Cider, Peter Paul Wines, Belong Wine Company, Newfound Wines, Immortal Estate and Carboniste sparkling wine.
She hopes to have an open house in the spring to showcase all the collective producers.
“Multiple brands benefit although we only work with a handful of producers. Clients have a collaboration and creative conversations happen. They help each other to reach a common goal.”
Owners of Belong Wine Company, winemaker Bertus van Zyl and his wife Alli appreciate more than simply the collaborative atmosphere.
“Patagonia was an inspiration to have a business for good,” said Von Zyl, who enjoys outdoor hikes. “We believe in the philosophy of leaving somewhere better than you found it. Belong Wine Co. is a member of Climate Neutral and 1% for the Planet. We have a responsibility to make a difference in this world through our actions and our business.”
“Our challenge is to do carbon reduction. RD Winery is a Napa Green Certified Winery, and at RD, everyone is sharing the same carbon footprint.”
Belong’s current releases are a 2019 Mourvèdre and a 2020 Rosé from grapes grown in El Dorado County. (www.BelongWines.com)
“We have a few more lined up to release after we 'pivoted' from the impact caused by the fires, which will include a red blend, a Syrah, and a 2021 Summer Sipper. For that, we’re using fellow collective Carboniste. There’s that collaborative overlap and how we’ve mutually benefited from the space.”
“We know it’s early in the game for Belong and we don’t want to get ahead of ourselves. We make fun wines and use fruit from other regions in California.”
Another member of the collective, Peter Paul Wines, specializes in Pinot Noir and Chardonnay from Sonoma County’s north coast, along with Cabernet Sauvignon and a red blend from Napa Valley.
“Using the RD collective, we’re able to be as hands-on as if it were our own production facility,” said Peter Paul Wines’ Master of Wine Martin Reyes, who is also the wine’s general manager (www.peterpaulwines.com). “That’s not the case in other custom crush facilities. Here, there’s a sense of closeness with the production and team. There’s a palpable sense of community and a sense of belonging. I think it shows up in the wine.”
“We hope people get the purity of intent and a sense of comfortable style of Napa County wines. Our wine has the manor of European wines in that it’s not meager. It is dense and rich with a sense of balance and a hint of earthiness.”
Reyes said Peter Paul has no plans to expand for several years but does plan to move into lighter bottles and, to further reduce their carbon footprint, eventually remove the foils or wax tops and have naked bottles.
“Having sustainability in products is part of a classic winery and a way to be a better steward. The people at RD have the business and intent to come together to make good products. On our team, Meghan Vergara our sommelier and our consultant Trevor Smith share a collaborative spirit. That spirit extends to RD, and we’re thrilled to be a part of it.”
Hanabi Lager is another member of the collective (www.hanabilager.com). Owner/Brewer Nick Gislason and his wife Jennifer Angelosante share most of the duties. Gislason has a winemaking background.
“I make lager for the same reason that I make wine,” said Gislason in an email. “I love working with natural agricultural products like grapes and grains to make something delicious and enjoyable. Beer brewing is very similar to winemaking. For both, you essentially are making/steeping a tea wither with grapes or grains respectively and then allowing yeasts to ferment it.”
“The collective human energy all around you at RD is energizing for the daily work in the cellar. It brings a certain critical mass that makes the space and the projects within it come alive. It’s a very cool vibe down there with some great folks to be around.”
Gislaon is inspired by the collaborative.
“There’s a lot of cross-pollination of ideas in a space like this. We as brewers are right next to a great sparkling wine producer, Carboniste, and cider makers and winemakers. I’ve always personally preferred to make both wine and beer, rather than just one or the other, specifically because some aspects of the craft are intimately understood by brewers, and may not be well understood by winemakers, or vice versa. There’s a lot to learn by having an open mind and learning about what people are doing in similar but different fields.”
More information is at www.RDwinery.com.