The Deeply Rooted Legacy of Rudy Chavez

Produced in partnership by Travel Dundee and the Dundee Hills Winegrowers Association.

Rudy Chavez’s love story with Anderson Family Vineyard is 32 years in the making. It involves 31,000 vines, which he planted, and one sparkling tractor that only he is brave enough to drive down one of the steepest vineyards–as steep as an Olympic ski race slope–with some of the narrowest rows in the Dundee Hills. 

He knows each of the vines well. Not only did he plant them, but every January and February, he spends the two rainiest and coldest months of the year taking six separate passes through every row in the vineyard to do initial, finer, and final pruning; to pull the brush; to tie the cane that will produce the year’s vines; and finally, to cut off the kicker cane. 

Before he landed at Anderson Family in ’92, Rudy worked under legendary Oregon pioneer Jack Myers. Today he knows every square foot of the vineyard and is known for spotting potential issues and having a fix underway before anyone else can see what he’s looking at. “This place is in my blood now,” he says. The communion between Rudy, the land, and the vines has allowed the vineyard to flourish for over three decades. 

When asked why he’s stayed so long, he laughs and motions around him to the sweeping views of the Dundee Hills and Willamette Valley below. “Because of this!” he says with a laugh. He has a point. In a region where stunning vistas abound, there’s something special about Anderson Family’s outlook from the tippy top of their rocky vineyard hill.

Rudy has never met a problem he can’t solve in the Anderson Family vineyard, despite never having received formal training in the work and art of vineyard management. Like almost everything else in his life – including how to read and write – he taught himself, picking up tricks along the way. “I’m proud of coming this far with no education,” he says. “I learned by watching because nobody taught me. I learned almost everything I know by paying attention.”

His resourcefulness, determination, and skill, honed through years of learning by doing, earned him recognition as the Oregon Wine Board’s Vineyard Manager of the Year. It is the honor of a lifetime and a well-deserved achievement. 

“I’ve learned more from Rudy than he’s ever learned from me,” declares Cliff Anderson, owner and winemaker at Anderson Family Vineyard. “I never worry about this vineyard. It’s his! He sees things before anyone else – he has eagle eyes and at least two green thumbs.”

Photos by Molly Bailey

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