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Woman pushing wine grapes into a hopper

The Collective at RD Winery

We share our winemaking space with over a dozen wine, cider, and beer producers as a part of our community-driven collective.

Though it has been written about in Wine Enthusiast, Imbibe, North Bay Business Journal, and San Francisco Business Times, we wanted to share our story here and explain more about what the collective does for our local community of producers and why we started it.

RD Winery wine barrel

How did the RD Winery Collective Start?

In 2020, we introduced our wines to the U.S. market under two new labels: Fifth Moon and Hundred Knot. While our products are new to this country, we have been producing wine for export to Vietnam since 2012. We also opened our tasting room in the summer of 2020 near the beginning of the pandemic, making it challenging to welcome visitors in the ways we had hoped.

However discouraging this setback was, it was fodder for outside-the-box thinking. We couldn’t welcome the public, but we had a massive winery facility that we weren’t fully using, and we needed to make ends meet. The RD Winery Collective was born as a way to honor our mission to support the community, and help us keep the lights on.

Our winery is a big place. The production facility is 25,000 square feet, and while we’re licensed to produce 280,000 9-liter cases of wine annually, we keep things much smaller. We only make about 5,000 cases across our Fifth Moon, Hundred Knot, and Khoai collections.

The original idea behind having such a large facility was to accommodate the export of wine to Vietnam. While our wines were well-received, beer has a much stronger foothold as the alcoholic drink of choice in Vietnamese culture, so our production never quite required the space we had.

So, with room to spare, we started our collective—right when we all needed community most. We’ve opened our doors to a variety of small producers, each with its own trajectory. Some are just getting their businesses started. Others are pursuing passion projects or experimenting with new ideas. The community-driven production environment allows for creativity and expression in all forms of fermentation. It’s a place where ​​like-minded producers can come together and explore what’s next.

Brewer crouching on a metal catwalk
Nick Gislason of Hanabi Lager Co.

Who is Part of the RD Winery Collective?

While our list started small, we now proudly work with 15 various wine, cider, and beer producers in our communal space. Some of our amazing partners include Hanabi Lager Co. from Nick Gislason of Screaming Eagle and his wife Jenn; Peter Paul Wines, with the first master of wine of Mexican descent, Martin Reyes; Belong Wine Co. from Alli and Bertus Van Zyl; Colin Blacksheer and Aaron Brown of Bardos Cider; M Vino; and Immortal Estate, among others.

Each uses our space in different ways. Some are here for production help, like crushing and bottling. For some, we follow their instructions to make their wine exactly as they’ve envisioned. Others are here for more simple accommodations like storage space.

When we talk to potential collective members, we’re most curious about how they engage with their community, whether they’re nice to work with and considerate to our cellar staff, and if we can be a good partner to them. Of course, we’re a business, and we would like to be profitable, but we also often spend more hours at work than we do at home, and the goal is to make it a great place to be.

While each person or brand comes to the collective for different reasons, we all find ourselves appreciative of the opportunity to connect with each other, to talk, explore, and learn in ways this industry is known for but doesn’t always support. Together, we get that.

Darkly lit man cleaning barrels

What’s Next for the RD Winery Collective?

Last season, RD Winery crushed 550 tons of grapes, with only 65 being ours and the rest belonging to our collective members. Our goal is to increase our custom crush, and with the growth of our community and the success of each of our collective members, we think we’ll get there.

What started as our answer to uncertain times turned into something bigger than we could have imagined. We love having a place that supports small producers coming together to share insights, knowledge, and ideas. It’s the type of community we always wanted and the very thing we hope our wine inspires outside of our facility and tasting room. Wine is about bringing people together. We are grateful that we get to do that, both through our own wines and through the communities our collective producers are building.