Photo by Lance Armstrong

Standing, left to right, are Galt City Council Member Kevin Papineau, Assembly Member Jim Cooper, Valensin Vineyard and Winery owners Kirk and Colleen Ruffell, and Galt City Council Member Rich Lozano.

Assembly Member Jim Cooper, D-Elk Grove, on Sept. 30 honored Galt’s Valensin Vineyard and Winery as the “Small Business of the Month.”

Located at 10675 Valensin Road, just off of Highway 99’s Arno Road exit, the business produces four still wines on site, and four sparkling wines off site.

This winery is currently preparing for the release of its first estate wine, a Syrah wine created with wine grapes grown in the business’s on-site vineyard.

Its owners, Elk Grove residents Kirk and Colleen Ruffell, each have 15 years of experience working for wineries.

During his presentation, Cooper recognized the importance of agriculture, and praised this business’s operation.

“You guys have got just an amazing place here, and a lot of potential for growth,” he said.

Cooper told The Herald that this business is a “trifecta.”

“They’re selling wine and harvesting wine grapes, they’re harvesting fish here (on its manmade lake) and they’re also doing a ski school,” he said. “So, a lot is going on here. It’s great for Galt; it’s a great location. When you come out here, the atmosphere, you can’t beat this.”

Cooper added that with the wine, vineyard, lake and other features, Valensin Vineyard and Winery is a “hidden gem.”

Colleen expressed appreciation for the Small Business of the Month recognition.

“We are super appreciative,” she said. “The community has been so wonderful to us – Galt, Elk Grove, Sacramento. And to be honored this way is really, really special, especially after being open just a year. So, it really means a lot.”

Kirk noted that it was important for him and Colleen to have a unique environment for their winery.

“If you go to a traditional winery, it’s more of an enclosed area,” he said. “So, we wanted to kind of simulate our lifestyle. We’re very active people, we love the water, so that’s why this property really kind of called (to) us.”

Kirk mentioned that two slalom water-skiing enthusiasts developed the property.

“About 20 years ago, they started a water-skiing school in this area, and they retired when we purchased it about two years ago,” he said. “They were very active. They were pro skiers. They created the (lake) and we’ve now taken that vision and expanded it and created kind of a wine atmosphere around.”

Also located on the property are part-time homes for water-skiers from places such as Washington, Utah and Canada.

“We are set up for stay-and-play for water-skiing,” he said. “So, the properties that are here are for water-skiers to come in. We get a lot of cold weather state (and Canadian) people that will come down and extend their seasons. So, they come, they stay with us.”

The winery’s tasting room is located in a partially enclosed, partially open-air structure, which was constructed by Kirk.

As for this business’s biggest goal, Kirk noted that it is to “grow with the community.”

He expressed appreciation for the support the community has given to this winery.

“As we all know, COVID-19 was last year, and we had a huge amount of support from the local individuals,” he said, “way more people from Galt than I thought. Galt, in comparison to Elk Grove, is maybe a quarter (the size), maybe smaller. But the amount of people we get from Galt coming in is huge.

“As we grow, we want the community to come with us. We want to start doing some fundraisers for the community, as well.”

Other goals of the Ruffells are to add a 40-foot by 60-foot tent, and eventually a permanent building, which will be located further out in the vineyard.

Still in the planning stages are “creative ideas” for the site’s lake, Kirk noted.

Valensin Vineyard and Winery is open Thursdays from 3 to 8:30 p.m., Fridays from noon to 8:30 p.m., and Saturdays and Sundays from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m.

For additional information about this business, call (916) 883-2555 or visit the website at