A passion for Sonoma County wines and preserving agriculture drives Rodney Strong’s team and Farm Bureau membership
By Taylor Pires
“We are quality driven from the top down,” said Doug McIlroy, director of winegrowing at Rodney Strong Vineyards. This commitment to quality is evident in everything the Rodney Strong team does. They don’t take shortcuts in the vineyard; they have a passionate winemaking team, and sustainability is an everyday practice. Rodney Strong is dedicated to elevating Sonoma County wines and supporting Sonoma County agriculture. A Premium Farm Bureau Membership is one way they are choosing to demonstrate their devotion to quality and Sonoma County.
“Seeing that Premium Membership was an option, it was a natural reaction to sign on at that level. It didn’t take much thought. It was a must do,” Doug said.
Doug shared that he values Rodney Strong’s Premium Membership because it is an investment in helping Farm Bureau fulfill their mission as “the voice of agriculture,” advocating on the members’ behalf regarding politics, governmental affairs and regulations.
“Rodney Strong appreciates the efforts Farm Bureau puts into preserving agriculture. I think that in itself is the most important thing Farm Bureau does. They really keep the community together,” Doug said.
Rodney Strong is also community driven. Doug represents Rodney Strong when working with the agriculture community on important issues like frost regulation and water availability. “Working with the growers in Sonoma County is really a pleasure. Our growers are just as important to us as our own estate vineyards,” Doug said.
Doug oversees grape contracts with dozens of Sonoma County growers and tends to 1,200 acres of Rodney Strong estate vineyards. The Klein family, owners of Rodney Strong Vineyards, has sought out high quality vineyards to make distinguished and diverse Sonoma County wines. They grow grapes in the Alexander Valley, Chalk Hill, Dry Creek Valley, Northern Sonoma, Russian River Valley and Sonoma Coast appellations.
“They may not produce the highest yields and if you were just selling the grapes they might not make as much sense as some other vineyards, but they make sense in the fact that it allows us to make some really exceptional wines. We focus on quality as opposed to production,” Doug said of the estate vineyards.
More emphasis has been placed on maximizing the vineyards’ potential under the Klein’s ownership. “Because we started focusing more on the vineyards, it was natural that we started to try and make wines in the upper tiers. Increasing the value of Sonoma County wines is of benefit to the community and to us,” Doug said.
Conserving and protecting the environment is also valued at Rodney Strong. They are leaders in sustainability with one of the world’s largest solar energy systems and recognition as the first carbon neutral winery in Sonoma County. They are also proud to have a sustainably certified winery and vineyards. “We are dedicated to sustainability. All of our vineyards have been sustainably farmed since 2002,” Doug said.
Rodney Strong has been successful in creating a brand that is recognized for “world-class wines that capture the essence of Sonoma County.” Their commitment to quality touches every vine and is within every bottle.