Ruth Waltenspiel

Co-owner, Timber Crest Farms, 4791 Dry Creek Rd., Healdsburg 95448; 707-433-8251; timbercrest.com

Age: 75

Residence: Healdsburg

Professional background: Ruth and Ronald Waltenspiel started the ranch in Sonoma County's Dry Creek Valley in 1957. She is considered a pioneer in American production of dried tomatoes in the late 1970s.

In recent years, Timber Crest Farms transformed into a cluster of smaller-scale production wineries, Dry Creek Valley's first collective wine-tasting venue, Family Wineries, and artisan food producers such as Dry Creek Olive Oil Company.

Mrs. Waltenspiel and one tenant, Kokomo Winery, were key drivers in establishing in 2011 the Sonoma State Cellars hands-on winery program for the Wine Business Institute at Sonoma State University.

Education: Two years at University of California, Santa Barbara. That's where I got my "Mrs. degree," which has happily lasted for 55 years.

Staff: 20

Tell us about yourself and your company: For 46 years, we grew, dried and packaged dried fruits. My job was to sell more than my husband, company co-owner Ronald, could grow. My husband's job was to grow more than I could sell.

In 2003, the dried fruit business sold, and we went from over 200 employees to 20. We now grow about 200 acres of winegrapes and work with our tenants at Timber Crest Farms, which is now a food and wine center.

Is there a major accomplishment in the past year or so that you would like to share?: I learned to download books from the Sonoma County Library to my iPhone. Older persons who do not engage in the newest technology are mission a great adventure!

What is the achievement you are most proud of?: Discovering and developing the sun-dried tomato market here in the U.S.

What is your biggest challenge today?: Choosing the most worthwhile things on which to spend my time.

Words that best describe you: Positive and  interested in new places, people and technology.

As a successful female professional, what were the biggest obstacles you faced and how did you overcome them?: Frankly, being the only female in the room was a great advantage. Many times, I was the only female on the school board, the only female making a sales presentation to Safeway, etc.

How do you think your profession will change in the next five years?: Rapidly

Who was your most important mentor?: I learn something from every person I get to know.

What advice would you give to a young woman entering your profession or the work world today?: Be positive and honest. If something does not feel right, say so and stick to you guns.

[caption id="attachment_75571" align="alignleft" width="200"] Ruth Waltenspiel[/caption]

Most admired businessperson outside your organization: Gina Gallo

Current reading: A Moveable Feast by Ernest Hemmingway

Most want to meet: Bill Gates

Stress relievers: Food -- I eat too much.

Favorite hobbies: Riding my horse. I still do an endurance ride about every two weeks all spring, summer and fall.