Rob Stuart makes the wines he loves: Pinot noir, Pinot Gris, and sparkling wine. It’s a career built on passion, hard work, and decades of experience. His winemaking philosophy – honed over thirty vintages – is as focused as he is. Rob is driven to create balanced, and distinctive wines that reflect not just the elusive concept of terroir, but the appellation. And he wants his wines to be accessible to all – is having a bottle of R. Stuart Pinot noir on every table too big a dream?
He doesn’t think so.
Rob Stuart and his partners founded R. Stuart & Co. in early 2002. The decision to start a winery heralded a new chapter in an already distinctive winemaking career. Rob fell in love with wine at eighteen when he visited the United Kingdom. His host, Jezdimer Miljkovic, was a Master of Wine, who, while sitting in a picture-perfect English garden, popped the cork on a bottle of 1961 Bollinger Champagne. Rob saw stars. It wasn’t hard for Miljkovic to convince Rob to stay for the summer and work on his twenty-acre vineyard. In turn, Miljkovic taught Rob about wine. While the wines he helped produce were mediocre, the wines Rob got to drink from the man’s cellar were not. Rob left the U.K. with a love for wine, and a burgeoning interest winemaking. He’d also developed a deep love for Champagne. He tasted a lot that summer, yet nothing compared to the 1961 Bollinger. Rob’s been dreaming of it ever since.
After graduating from Rensselear Polytechnic Institute in New York with a degree in biochemistry, he worked briefly in a lab at Baylor University in Texas. Rob quickly decided he hated both white lab coats and his biochemistry job. At night, he tried to forget it all by opening bottles of Burgundy and Champagne. Around the same time, a co-worker introduced him to the world of ecology. Inspired by the bottles he was now spending all his paychecks on, Rob was hooked. He started his winemaking career on the bottling line at Hans Kornell, a producer of sparkling wines, in Napa, California. Day after day Rob disgorged wine. An “opportunity” to clean tanks helped prove his mettle, and soon he had learned the basics of sparkling wine production.
After leaving Hans Kornell, Rob worked in the vineyard and cellar at Valley View Vineyards in the Rogue Valley of Oregon, where he learned about grape growing, still wine production, and blending. Next, Rob went to Staton Hills in Yakima, Washington, where he made wine for ten years. Though living in Washington, Rob closely followed what was happening with Pinot Noir in the Willamette Valley and knew that elusive wine was much closer to his heart than the Bordeaux varietals he was making in Washington. Another wine passion ignited.
In 1990, Rob attended his first International Pinot Noir Celebration (IPNC) in McMinnville, Oregon. What was initially the chance to taste and share exceptional Pinot noir, became a landmark life event. While at the IPNC, Rob met and fell in love with his wife, Maria. The two settled in Oregon in 1994, when Rob became the winemaker at Erath Vineyards.
McMinnville is their home, and the birthplace of many successful “projects” including their winery, R. Stuart & Co., the R. Stuart & Co. Wine Bar, and (most importantly) their three children.