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The Judgment of ... Vienna?

Submitted By: Lewis Perdue, October 18, 2010

First there was The Judgment of Paris, the famous wine-tasting depicted in the movie Bottle Shock, in which two Napa wineries sent a Tsunami across the ocean by beating the established French winemaking hierarchy. Now von Strasser Winery has created a new wave of excitement: The Judgment of Vienna.

In 2004, Von Strasser Winery became the first winery in California to grow the Austrian white-wine grape Grüner Veltliner. Now releasing his third vintage, owner/winemaker Rudy von Strasser was so enamored with his 2009 wine that on a lark he submitted it to the AWC-Vienna, an Austrian wine tasting which bills itself as ‘The World’s Largest Wine Valuation’. The outcome: A Silver Medal.

“I am elated with this result” says Rudy. “People are shocked when I tell them that I grow Gru Vee (the nickname for Grüner Veltliner) in Napa Valley. They think that because California is known for bigger, higher alcohol wines, we will not be able to produce a wine true to the style of Austria: a wine geared more to elegance, acidity and minerality.”

However von Strasser’s winemaking style has always been about finesse and not extract. Rudy is best known for his single-vineyard Diamond Mountain District Cabernet Sauvignons and for his charming winery, for which he has been voted ‘Winery of the Year’ eight years in a row by Wine & Spirits magazine. Rudy’s wines have always been atypical for Napa Valley, crafted with elegance and finesse, and not the over-oaked, over-extracted, high-alcohol style which is increasingly popular in California.

Rudy von Strasser is a first generation American, whose family stems from Austria and Hungary. Rudy visits his parents’ home in the Burgenland, Austria each year, and through these visits has enjoyed his fair share of Gru Vees. It is only fitting that someone with Rudy’s background would pioneer California’s attempts at Grüner Veltliner. When asked “What’s next?”, Rudy can only grin and say “Maybe next year we will take the gold.”

The wines are only available at the winery. Please visit