Leslie’s journey into the food and beverage industry began when he joined his father’s alcoholic beverage wholesale distribution business in Wichita, Kansas. Due to his leadership, Standard Beverage Corporation has grown to be the state’s largest alcoholic beverage wholesaler and represents most of the world’s premium quality brands.
Intent on leveraging his understanding and experience, Leslie expanded into the premium food market successfully launching and investing in several national restaurants as well as adding the iconic Dean & DeLuca which he owned until 2014. In 2005, Leslie desired to improve the vision of the steakhouse and take inspiration from the famed L’Ami Louis of Paris in creating PRESS Restaurant, a modern steakhouse located in St. Helena, California with the largest list of California wines with vintages back to the 1950s. Leslie’s passion for bridging the gap between the past and present is evident in the 2012 renovation of Oakville Grocery, which he purchased in 2007 to make sure that it would remain open as one of the oldest groceries in the country. Each of these ventures shares a commitment to excellence and appreciation of artisan products by blending the traditions of the past while instilling a modern twist.
Leslie, his wife, Susan, and daughter, Samantha have worked tirelessly to adhere to a credence of continuous improvement since they purchased the winery in 1996. Samantha graduated from university in 2010 and has been working full-time at Rudd Oakville Estate learning all aspects of the business from understanding the vineyards to hosting guests. Samantha shares her father’s passion for the land, and Leslie is encouraging her to make her mark improving the winery so that her future children will have an opportunity to do the same.