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'14 Tour Guide

Reviewed Wineries

Rulo Winery - A labor of love

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

The husband and wife team of Kurt and Vicki Schlicker started Rulo Winery in 2000. That year, the Schlickers made 300 cases of wine and purchased a small plot of land south of downtown Walla Walla. The winery – a modest facility focused on production – was built at this site the following year.

The Schlickers came to the world of wine via medicine. Winemaker Kurt Schlicker holds a Bachelors of Science in Medical Microbiology from Stanford and a medical degree from the University of Washington. Vicki Schlicker received a Bachelor of Science in Nursing from Kent State University.

While the Schlickers maintain one foot in the world of medicine, they say, “We can guarantee you that we are not a hobby winery. This is a labor of love and more than a full time gig.”

Rulo’s website tells you just above everything you need to know about the Schlickers. It reads:

We love to fish, golf and cook.

We drink wines produced globally.
We have a 14-year-old cat named Niblick.

Enough about us.


And there it is.

The Schlickers say that talking about themselves is “the antithesis of who and what we are.” While self-described “control freaks,” you wouldn’t necessarily know it visiting the winery. Any visit to Rulo involves lots of laughing. The Schlickers are funny and self-deprecating. “Rosé with Original Cheetos?” Vicki Schlicker inquires. “Killer!”

Describing his winemaking style, Kurt Schlicker says, “I just make wines I like and hope people like them. It’s not a very good business model.” While this may be true, it’s not a bad business model if the wines you like are of impressively high quality. It is an even better one if you are able to make high quality wines at compelling price points.

Rulo gets its name from the Rulo grain elevator station located 11 miles northwest of the winery. These grain silos, which serve as marking points throughout the Walla Walla Valley, are graphically displayed on the winery’s label.

The Rulo wines are self-distributed, which is part of what allows the winery to provide such competitive pricing. The Schlickers write, “It is important to us that we know our retailers and that they know us. We load up our Chevy pick-up with cases of wine and deliver to restaurants and shops personally.” Given this, the wines can take some effort to find. However, the effort is more than sufficiently rewarded.

Rulo Winery makes 2,600 cases annually (Note: All wines under screw cap).

Rulo Winery Viognier River Rock Vineyard Walla Walla Valley 2009 $18

Rating: * (Excellent) An aromatic wine redolent with floral notes and white peaches. Bright and fruit-filled with enough acid to hold it all together. Fermented in stainless steel. Sampled at 58 degrees.

Rulo Winery Combine White Wine Columbia Valley 2009 $15

Rating: * (Excellent) Pale in color. Compelling aromatics of gooseberry, papaya, mineral, and floral notes. The palate is bright and clean with mouthwatering acidity. 96% Sauvignon Blanc, 4% Muscat Ottonel. Evergreen Vineyard. Fermented in stainless steel.

Rulo Winery Sundance Chardonnay Wahluke Slope 2008 $20

Rating: * (Excellent) Pale in color. Beautiful aromatics of straw, spice, and lychee. Crisp and tart on the palate with mouthwatering acidity. A beautiful wine. 100% Chardonnay. Sundance Vineyard, Wahluke Slope.

Rulo Winery Chardonnay Birch Creek Vineyard Walla Walla Valley 2008 $20

Rating: + (Good) A bit darker in color than the Sundance wine. The wine is considerably more aromatic with grass and hay notes. The palate is toasty with light buttery flavors. 100% Chardonnay. Fermented in French oak. Sampled at 60 degrees.

Rulo Winery Rose Walla Walla Valley 2009 $15

Rating: + (Good) Pale pink in color. A very pretty aroma profile with pepper, spice, cherries, and watermelon. Very dry and crisp on the palate. 98% Syrah, 2% Cabernet Sauvignon. River Rock Vineyard.

Rulo Winery Syrca Columbia Valley 2007 $15

Rating: * (Excellent) Dark in color. The nose is marked by blueberries, smoked meat, pure cherry fruit flavors, and spice on a very intriguing aroma profile. Tart and dry on a fruit filled palate with a detailed finish. A spectacular wine for the price. 77% Syrah (Walla Walla Valley), 23% Cabernet Sauvignon (Red Mountain). Sampled at 68 degrees.

Rulo Winery Syrah Columbia Valley 2006 $20

Rating: +/* (Good/Excellent) Light floral notes and mesquite. An elegantly structured with made in a clean, bright style. Syrah co-fermented with Viognier. Clifton Hill, Ranch at the End of the Road, River Rock Vineyard.

Rulo Winery Silo Wahluke Slope 2006 $35

Rating: */** (Excellent/Exceptional) Stains the glass. Abundant violets, purple fruit, mesquite, and a touch of chocolate on an aromatic wine. A big, intense, opulent palate with a lot of grip and texture. Lingers on the finish. 100% Syrah. Clifton Vineyard, Wahluke Slope.

Rulo Winery Cabernet Sauvignon 2006 Columbia Valley $40

Rating: * (Excellent) Dark in color with purple at the rim. A classic Cabernet Sauvignon with dark, rich cherry aromas and light herbal notes. Opulent black cherry fruit on the palate with a firm tannic structure holding it up. A delicious wine. 100% Cabernet Sauvignon. Red Mountain.

Rulo Winery Cabernet Sauvignon Columbia Valley 2007 $40

Rating: * (Excellent) Quite distinct from the 2006 offering, this wine shows licorice, light herbal notes, and dark chocolate. On the palate, a gigantic wine with gripping, chalky tannins and rich fruit flavors. Wallula Gap Vineyard, Horse Heaven Hills.

Rulo Winery Silo Reserve Columbia Valley 2007 $35

Rating: ** (Exceptional) Leaps from the glass with lavender, earth, and funk. On the palate, chewy cherry fruit is wrapped in silky oak flavors. 100% Syrah. Ranch at the End of the Road, Clifton Vineyard.

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6 comments

  1. Rulo has been one of my favorite wineries for several years now! I'm so glad they are getting more recognition. The Syrca is my go to wine.

     
  2. tks Says:
  3. I've had Rulo's Cabernets, Syrahs and Syrca, and have been spreading the word about them ever since. In the midst of the busy holiday season, they were more than helpful in getting my order (and subsequent reorder!) to me quickly. Genuinely wonderful people and fantastic wine.

     
  4. Anonymous Says:
  5. Rulo has been a favorite for a couple of years. last summer at dinner one night I accidentally served a 2006 Silo - which I was saving for a special day - instead of the 2006 Syrca, to my 21 yo, and not quite so wine educated, daughter. After the first sip, her face lit up with delight. I knew then I had made a big mistake, she was not going to want to drink the regular house wine after that. But alas, we all enjoyed the bottle immensely. I know they are self-distributing and sometimes hard to find, but they do carry it at my local Trader Joe's occasionally.

     
  6. Anon, I always say that the biggest financial mistake you can make is starting to drink nice wine! I fear for your daughter turning that light on at age 21. Thanks for sharing the story.

     
  7. Paul Kinahan Says:
  8. Thanks for the review Sean.
    Did you have a chance to try the Rulo 2007 Syrah? I bought some at ~$20 and have liked it a lot.

     
  9. Paul, sadly I did not but I have heard nothing but great things about the wine. Paul G at Wine Enthusiast rated it at 96 points! Quite the score for a wine at that price.

     

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