California wine lovers raise our glass to you, Mr. Strong.
Rodney Strong, who left behind a career as a professional dancer to pioneer the mass production of fine wines in Sonoma County, died Sunday in Healdsburg, Calif. He was 78.
...Mr. Strong was best known for Rodney Strong Vineyards, which, from its beginnings in the 1960's, was a leader in transforming Sonoma County's reputation from that of rustic farmland as the area became one of the finest wine regions in the country. He focused mostly on French varietals like cabernet sauvignon, chardonnay and merlot, though he made a well-regarded zinfandel, too, and the wines were generally considered to be excellent values.
Mr. Strong was one of the first to plant extensive vineyards in prime Sonoma locations at a time when apples and prunes were still the leading crops, and he was an early advocate of making wines from single vineyards rather than blending grapes from many sources.
"I knew I couldn't be an old dancer, but I could be an old winemaker," he said often over the years. - NYTimes