Well it sure doesn’t seem like almost 50 years, but back in 1965 Rudi Wiest was working as a phone company engineer, and he started collecting fine wine.
Rudi first discovered German fine wine with the 1971 vintage, and in 1975 got hooked on German wine forever while drinking a 1953 Karthäuserhof Riesling Spätlese from the Eitelsbacher Karthäuserhofberg vineyard with foie gras.
Soon his fine wine hobby was turning into a small side business. In 1975 he began representing several boutique importers from San Francisco in the Southern California markets.
In 1978 Rudi started Cellars International, Inc. and his “hobby” had become a full fledged business. The original business objective was to work with French Burgundies and other select wines from the Cotes du Rhone. However, after some time Rudi saw more potential in the German fine wine market and the French wines were phased out. By the early 1980’s the portfolio had shifted exclusively to German wine.
The German program was expanded to include wines from all the major growing areas of Germany. With the help of his wife Erna, Rudi began to build a distributor network. He knew the only way to once again establish these great estates was through education and with distributors who recognized the opportunity with these great wines. In the early 80’s Rudi began traveling the US promoting the wines. Erna ran the office, and his son Brent helped out in the office and with the unloading of containers.
In the September 2005 issue of Alles Uber Wein there was an article about Rudi Wiest Selections. Two quotes about Rudi Wiest from the article “Mr. German Wine” (translated from German):
The Underground Wine Journal offered the first press on Rudi Wiest Selections in late 1984. Since then Rudi Wiest Selections has garnered more outstanding scores than any other US importer.
Just one estate alone, Weingut Gunderloch, represented by Rudi Wiest, has received three perfect 100 Point Scores in the Wine Spectator. A stunning accomplishment. In addition, Rudi Wiest’s estates have garnered hundreds of 90-99 point ratings. The reviews are from some of the most respected wine publications in the American market and include the Wine Spectator, Wine Advocate / Robert Parker, and the Fine Wine Review. Excellent scores in magazines certainly help, but they are not enough to succeed in the German fine wine market.
Today the company forges forward with an unwavering standard of excellence for every wine imported and a team of wine industry professionals. Rudi remains active as the company’s figurehead participating in tastings and wine dinners across the country.