From winemaking family to dream brewery
Russian River Brewing Company in the USA is setting new standards with its Greenfield brewery.
The success story began with Vinnie Cilurzo, who comes from a winemaking family and started home brewing in the 1980s. Together with his wife Natalie, he opened Blind Pig Brewing Co. in 1994. Over the next few years, Vinnie developed increasingly hoppy beers and created Pliny the Elder, one of the first commercially brewed double or imperial IPAs in America.
The brewery is also known for its Belgian-style sour beers, fermented with Brettanomyces yeasts in used wine barrels. In 2003, Korbel Champagne Cellars transferred the rights to Russian River Brewing Company to Natalie and Vinnie, and Russian River Brewpub opened in Santa Rosa in 2004, followed by a second brewpub in 2008.
Natalie and Vinnie fulfilled their dream of owning their own brewery in 2014, building a Greenfield Brewery in Windsor. The brewery includes a brewhouse with a flexible brew line that has an annual production capacity of 70,000 hl. The brewery also includes a restaurant, two bars, a beer garden, a tasting room and a gift store.
The brewhouse is equipped with innovative components, such as a dynamic hot wort hopping system called Hop Back. Ziemann Holvrieka supplied not only the brewhouse technology but also fermentation and storage tanks as well as pressure tanks.
The larger brewpub in Santa Rosa has been decommissioned, while the brewpub continues to attract guests. Russian River plans to brew about 30,000 hl of beer in 2018 and increase to 40,000 hl or more in 2019.
Vinnie emphasizes the new brewhouse’s high quality and efficiency in malt yield and hop bitterness. The reserve capacity will allow production of up to eight brews per day.
For visitors who want to try the popular Pliny the Younger, more beer is now brewed and served at twice as many locations. However, visitor rules will remain in place to allow everyone to enjoy the beer.
Russian River Brewing Company has ushered in a new era with its Greenfield brewery and remains true to its commitment to high-quality beer.