When Robert de Leuze was eleven years old, he produced his first wine. It was Mead, a wine made from honey. Of course, he was not the winemaker for ZD Wines at the time. The title of winemaker belonged to his father, Norman. But, Robert was never far behind dad. His wine-making training began when he started following his father's foot- steps around the winery. Working on weekends and during crush with his father, Robert thrived in the creative environment of the family winery - reveling in the high level of activity and excitement.
Following his high school graduation, Robert entered the University of California, Davis, and began his studies in the viticulture and enology program. Even still, on weekends and during breaks, Robert was found at the winery working on his practical experience. In 1979, midway through his junior year at UC Davis his father asked Robert to interview some of the Davis Grads applying for a position at ZD. Robert offered his hands on experience mixed with his shortened academic studies and took over the position himself. First, he participated in the building of ZD's new winery in Rutherford. In the ensuing years, Robert moved from cellarman to assistant winemaker. In 1983, at the age of only 25, he was appointed winemaker. Now, Robert is Winemaster/CEO and has taken on a larger role in the management of the winery.
As winemaster of a small, family-run winery, Robert is responsible for every detail involved in the making of the wine. Robert is truly a hands on winemaker. Wherever the action is, whether it is in the vineyard or in the cellar, that is where you will find Robert. Robert derives a great deal of satisfaction from creating wines and guiding their transition from harvest to bottling. He "worries each wine through the winery" and can dismiss his concerns only after the wine is bottled. Robert is clearly the perfectionist of the deLeuze family.
It can be said that over the three decades in which ZD has produced wine, Robert has played a major role in the development of ZD's distinct and recognizable style. His goal is to always maintain ZD's consistent quality and successful style of rich, flavorful wines.
Robert and his wife, Sheryl, will celebrate 30 years of wedded bliss this year. They are the proud parents of Brandon, ZD’s Assistant Winemaker since 2006, and Jill, who joined ZD last year, splits her time between pouring wine in the tasting room and representing ZD out in the marketplace. Robert and Sheryl are thrilled that both of their children chose to return to Napa after college and become part of ZD’s next generation.