Jeff Ames Sold His Home to Make Wine
Today, it’s easy to see why winemaker Jeff Ames had the confidence to start Rudius — one of the greatest new wineries to emerge in Napa this decade: Five of his wines from the drought years of 2012 and 2013 scored between 94 and 96 points from Robert Parker, including the 2013 “Kaley Elizabeth” Cabernet, which Parker rated a 96+ and called “multilayered,” and a “beauty.” When we offered the Kaley Elizabeth in May, it sold out in short order. The 2014 Rudius Cabernet Sauvignon from the minuscule 1.3-acre Savory Estate Vineyard on Howell mountain earned 96 points from James Suckling who said it “shows wonderful complexity and length. Don't miss it...try in 2020."
A decade ago, success must not have seemed so obvious to Jeff. He had bet on himself and bet big. He sold his first home in Napa in order to capitalize on his ultimate goal — Rudius Wines. Ames believed his time had come, and had good reason to be confident. He’d learned to make wine in Oregon under Lynn Penner-Ash, then in Napa with Thomas Rivers Brown before, at just 31, being named winemaker at Tor Kenwood. But to place such a wager on oneself takes more than confidence. It takes a vision.
As California’s historic dry spell went on, so did the streak of sublime Napa vintages — 2014 was hailed as a “dream vintage” by Wine Spectator — and so did Jeff Ames’s upward trajectory. Impressed with our clients’ buying power, Ames came back with another one of his masterful creations — his 2014 Rudius Savory Estate Vineyard is crafted from 100% Howell Mountain Cabernet Sauvignon from a tiny 1.3-acre parcel.
The winery awaits Mr. Parker’s opinion, but this superb single-vineyard mountain Cabernet is a further extension of what Wine Spectator’s James Laube remembered seeing when he noted Ames’s passion and knowledge and figured that, “he would go on to bigger and better things.” Laube said that long ago. But Ames is still at it — getting better and better.