Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Ruby Tuesday Winery becomes Ruby Blues Winery

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Photo: Prudence Maher with the red shoes

Visitors to the Ruby Tuesday Winery on Naramata Road this year will notice two differences this year.

First of all, the name is changing to Ruby Blues Winery. It is an almost imperceptible change since only one word changes on the “flying shoes” label.

This is how small the change is: recently, a crew spent the day at the winery to bottle the new releases. At the end of the day, winery owner Prudence Maher asked the person who was checking the labels for correct application to the bottles what she thought of the new labels.

“What new labels?” the individual asked.

When the winery opened in 2009, its original name was drawn from a 1966 Rolling Stones song, Goodbye Ruby Tuesday. It was one of the songs that Prudence recalled from her adolescence (she was born in 1953).

The refrain goes like this:

Goodbye, ruby tuesday
Who could hang a name on you?
When you change with every new day
Still I’m gonna miss you...

The irony is that Prudence is going to miss the name. A year ago, her small winery was sued by Ruby Tuesday Inc., the giant American restaurant chain with about 900 locations – only one of which is in Canada (Niagara Falls). She makes wine, they serve wine and they thought it a conflict.

At first, Prudence thought about taking the restaurant chain on. “I wanted to fight and I had the lawyers working for me and the chances were pretty good that we could win,” she said in a recent interview. “However, it takes years and years and tons of money ... Toward the end of the year, my lawyer convinced me that, for the quality of my life, it would be smarter for me to change the name and just go on with life.”

The new name still has an allusion to music, this time to a song by The Beatles.

“Rather that fighting for years and spending thousands of dollars on a negative subject, we decided to move on and do what we always said: Catch your dreams before they slip away,” Prudence says.

The second change in the tasting room is that the winery will also be selling shoes.

It all came about because the model for the shoes on the wine labels here was a pair of winged shoes that Prudence had found several years ago. She left one with the label artist and has the other in the winery tasting room. Of course, visitors would ask about the shoe and Prudence would joke that shoes would soon join wines in the shop.

That might have remained a joke. However, a friend has a Vietnamese wife who had visitors from Vietnam last year. “They had the fanciest shoes on,” Prudence recalls.

In no time, she had designed her own fancy shoes and ordered 170 pairs of ladies shoes from a cobbler in Vietnam. There are two styles; one sells for $95 a pair and the other for $75. The brand is Dear Prudence.

“They are very high-heeled, very feminine, probably nothing to walk in the vineyard with,” she says. “They are meant to walk from home to the car and to the restaurant and then back. They look extremely fancy.”

It all adds to the fun of visiting this winery’s tasting room, where the slogan is: “The cost for a tasting is a smile.”

And she means it. She and Beat, her husband, initially opened the Red Rooster Winery, expanding from a tiny winery on a side road to a showpiece on Naramata Road. After they sold it in 2005 to Andrew Peller Ltd., Prudence found how deeply she missed running a tasting room and kibitzing with visitors. That is why she launched what is now Ruby Blues.

“For me, this is playing,” she says. “I just do it a little bit different than what everybody else is doing. I love to play.”


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