Why is a tea man in the wine business? The better question: Why was a wine man was in the tea business?
Since studying viticulture and enology at University of California, Davis, in 1971, Ron Rubin progressed through 22 years of working at his family’s Illinois-based specialty beverage wholesale business then going out on his own for 17 years as owner The Republic of Tea in Novato. In 2011 he expanded his venture into wine, buying River Road Family Vineyards and Winery in Russian River Valley.
Today, Rubin Family of Wines produces 44,000 cases a year under seven labels: Ron Rubin, Pamela’s, Pamela’s Un-Oaked, River Road Family Vineyards & Winery, Q&A, We Are California and We Are Sonoma. The brands cover the gamut of upscale, youthful and innovative.
For example, the company has worked with Indiana-based Ball Corp., well-known in the home-canning world since 1884, to develop liners for aluminum cans that would hold wine well on the shelf. That partnership has led to 187-milliliter single-serving cans, what Rubin Family calls “cuties,” for Pamela’s Un-Oaked chardonnay and We Are California red blend and chardonnay.
Another example of branding innovation is Q&A. Design house CF Napa crafted packaging for the $15-a-bottle brand to be an entry-level wine geared toward millennials. Rubin worked with the faculty of Sonoma State University’s Wine Business Institute to come up with 60 questions and answers about wine from around the world, putting the quizzes on the packaging. Rubin is board president of Sonoma State and a major donor to educational causes nationwide, including sizable gifts to the institutes’s Wine Spectator Learning Center, which is set to open next year.
How did the concept for the Q&A wine brand develop?
RON RUBIN: It’s part of our mission statement: “to educate.” From the reactions from people so far, it’s proven that it was a great idea to have the staff at Sonoma State University’s Wine Business Institute come up with the 60 questions and answers.
Consumers are having fun enjoying the wine and learning more about their passion in a win-wine way. It’s turning out to be a crowd-pleaser, because people are naturally inquisitive. Once they know that this is the “Trivial Pursuit of wine,” their curiosity gets the best of them.
We’re currently involved in the innovative process with other projects, but we aren’t ready to disclose those projects at this time.
Rubin Family of Wines
Category: Marketing Innovation
5220 Ross Rd., Sebastopol 95472