It took Ron Rubin 40 years to realize his dream — a dream that began when he was studying at UC Davis.
“At 22 years old, I had this dream of someday owning a winery in Sonoma County,” Ron said. “Well, it took me awhile, but at age 62, my dream came true.”
Ron Rubin, owner of the Ron Rubin Winery and The Republic of Tea, first developed the idea of owning a winery after studying viticulture and enology at UC Davis under the late Maynard Amerine, a legendary wine researcher and professor.
Amerine’s legacy is that he is one of the world’s most prominent viticulture and enology experts. Ron’s personal connection to him also inspired his recent gift to UC Davis. The Rubin donation to the UC Davis Library will allow library staff to finish creating a searchable database of Amerine’s entire collection of 5,000+ wine labels, which the library has digitized and made available online. Amerine’s label collection shines a light on how his travels and exhaustive pursuit of the craft of winemaking influenced generations of winemakers around the world. By making it possible for anyone, anywhere in the world, to search these historic labels by vintage, region, variety and more, the library is also opening a new window onto the history of wine.
Thanks to Ron’s gift, the library will also be able to digitize Amerine’s collection of more than 1,000 menus — thus making them, too, accessible and searchable by anyone, anywhere in the world.
“For me it’s an honor to say he was one of my professors,” Ron said. “In life you go through the educational process, and then you think about teachers who had a big influence on your life. Maynard Amerine is that one for me.”
He continued, “Through The Ron Rubin/Maynard Amerine Wine Label and Menu Collection Fund, I’m honoring the impact that Dr. Amerine made on me and joining my resources with those that Dr. Amerine himself provided to the UC Davis Library. Together, we’re creating new opportunities for research, and for the appreciation of food and wine.”
A life-changing summer at UC Davis
Ron came to UC Davis the summer between his junior and senior years of college at the recommendation of family friend Bern C. Ramey, a UC Davis alumnus.
Ramey was a graduate of the UC Davis Viticulture and Enology Department, in addition to being the author and composer of the Cal Aggie Fight Song. At the time, Ramey was devoted to distribution wine sales. He recommended that Ron attend the world-renowned wine school so he could learn more about the wine business and be better prepared to enter the Rubin family business. It was at UC Davis that Ron met Maynard Amerine, the professor who would change his life.
“Dr. Amerine was so inspirational about wine…he just made wine so interesting. To be learning something new from someone so knowledgeable was just incredible,” Ron said. “I fell in love with the wine world because of him. And I’ve had a passion for wine every since.”
A “sip-by-sip” pursuit of “a beautiful experience”
After UC Davis, Ron worked for more than a decade in the Illinois-based family beverage distribution business, often visiting California wineries. These visits kept his dream of owning a winery alive.
Then, in 1992, Ron read the book The Republic of Tea, written by Mel and Patricia Ziegler. He was so inspired that he made an offer to the Zieglers and Bill Rosenzweig to purchase The Republic of Tea, a Novato, California-based tea business. Ron went on a mission to seek and procure the most exquisite teas from world premier tea gardens, making them accessible to everyone. The Republic of Tea promotes a “sip-by-sip” lifestyle. Ron explains, “It’s all about slowing your life down, enjoying the moment, and taking a break.”
A dream come true and a legacy
In December 2011, Ron realized his 40-year dream when he purchased a 10-acre vineyard in Sonoma County. That is when the Ron Rubin Winery was born. Ron’s certified sustainable winery promotes “a beautiful experience” and specializes in making Pinot Noir and Chardonnay wines.
On May 1, 2015, Ron moved from his mostly full-time focus as the Minister of Tea at The Republic of Tea to become its Executive Chairman. In this transition, son Todd Rubin became the Minister of Evolution (President) for The Republic of Tea. With his new-found time, Ron is now spending more quality time at his Green Valley of Russian River Valley winery.
Paying tribute to UC Davis roots
Today, Ron is often seen roaming his vineyard, sporting a UC Davis ball cap worn backwards. He loves to begin tours at his winery by paying tribute to his UC Davis roots. He takes guests by a book published in 1977, which is located in the Ron Rubin Winery’s lobby. It was written by Bern Ramey, with a forward written by Maynard Amerine.
“I begin every tour by picking up that book, and then telling the story of how Bern Ramey introduced me to UC Davis, and how that was how it all started,” Ron said. “For me, it’s all about that connection.”
Ron continues to stay connected to UC Davis, which is “a special place” for him. For example, he is committed to attending the Organisation Internationale de la Vigne et du Vin (OIV) wine marketing class every year, and continuing with his philanthropy interests.
“Making this gift is kind of like coming full circle,” Ron said. “I almost feel like I’m 22 years old again. My career success has brought me back to where it all started. It’s really exciting for me to give back. It makes me feel youthful, and it brings back some great memories of the special times I had at UC Davis.”