By: Jeanne Savelle |
Like many kids, Jerry Mueller adores his father. But unlike many kids, Jerry’s Second Act in life followed his father’s own Second Act.
Robert Mueller shared his love of wine and his understanding of science with his son. The combination of these two passions became the foundation for Jerry’s return to the family winemaking business.
A machinist, by trade, Robert was also a committed amateur winemaker. Wine was a daily part of the family table and served at every celebration.
In 1987, Robert and his wife Lois bought a gorgeous property high above the Missouri River in New Haven, where they planted the Röbller Vineyard the following year. That name, Röbller, comes from Robert Mueller.
Finding His Way
Jerry was always involved in the winemaking at home. He helped his father grow grapes and make and sell wine. Today, he is the company’s sole winemaker.
“I was involved in the business the whole time but was gone for a while,” he said.
During an 11-year hiatus, Jerry began a telecommunications career in St. Louis. Then he joined a colleague in a start-up fiber-optic telecommunication company in Dallas, Texas.
The telecom introduced innovations like AI, supercomputing, and GB Ethernet connections that were unavailable to the public at that time. Jerry managed sales, business development, and strategic partnerships. Their success was recognized in Entrepreneur Magazine’s Hot 100 list in 1999.
After 9/11, investors declined to continue funding physical networks. The company became unsustainable. But during his time there, Jerry absorbed knowledge about particle physics, large data sets, and the relationship of disparate elements.
When he went to work for a Dallas wine distributor, he was surprised at the lack of practical winemaking knowledge in the industry. He knew he could apply his extensive and unique experience to make improvements. His views about winemaking kept changing and expanding.
Jerry joined some colleagues in a new wine import and distribution company. Through it, he continued to deepen his expertise by tasting and discussing wine with great winemakers around the world. He discovered the characteristics, methods, and techniques of fine winemaking, cultivating his own appreciation for how fine wine comes to life.
After the business closed, Jerry considered his future—his Second Act. Thinking about the relationship between Missouri’s unusual grape varieties and the world’s fine wines, he went home.
Creative Precision in Fine Wine
Calling his winemaking philosophy “creative precision,” Jerry believes science is the base upon which the art of wine can be fully expressed. A clear understanding of the processes of winemaking, from the vineyard to the bottle, allows the art to shine.
Expanding upon his father’s vision, Jerry constantly explores new ways of developing complexity in his wines.
“Perfecting the craft — and learning from and working with my father — has been a tremendously rewarding and humbling journey,” he said.
Röbller continues to take a different path from other Missouri wineries by crafting unique wines of old-world expression. Jerry intimately understands the character of the land, the eloquence of each vintage, and the possibilities for Missouri wine.
“Telling the vineyard’s story in the bottle is both a passionand a mission,” he said.
Every Second Act can be one of renewal and growth. Jerry Mueller shows us how to do it well, with passion and commitment.