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Van Ruiten Family Winery

December 2021

A Traditional Family Recipe
by Angie Van Ruiten Rogan

It’s the holiday season and time to bake Oma’s traditional Dutch cookies called Jan Hagel.  These delicious buttery, shortbread cookies were always made by my mom at Christmastime.  The origin of these cookies date back to the 17th century.  According to legend, Jan Hagels are the cookies angels serve to people when they reach St. Peter’s Gate in Heaven.  It’s also been told that they are given to children or orphans as they enter Heaven.  Such a sweet sentiment.  I hope you try baking these heavenly cookies this year.  They are one of my favorite family traditions.


1 cup softened butter

1 tsp ground cinnamon

½ cup granulated sugar  

1 egg separated

½ cup brown sugar     2-3 cups sliced almonds 
2 cups all-purpose flour  


Cream the butter and sugar.  Add the egg yolk and beat thoroughly. Add the flour and cinnamon and mix well.

Spread the dough thinly on a 15 x 10 inch cookie sheet.  Press mixture down with fingers and smooth.  Brush on egg white and sprinkle with almonds.  Press almonds down into the dough with fingers. 

Bake at 325 degrees for 25 minutes or until golden brown.  Let cool for 10 minutes and then cut into squares.     

I hope you enjoy this Dutch treat with family and friends.  May your holidays be filled with good health, delicious food, great wine (try our Sparkling Cuvee with the Jan Hagel), and the company of loved ones.  Merry Christmas from our family to yours. 

Zalig Kerstfeest, Angie

Happy Retirement, John!           

Van Ruiten Family Winery is announcing the retirement of our winemaker, John Giannini.  John has been a member of our family for six years.  He is a talented winemaker with exceptional winemaking skills.  John has been a tremendous leader to our winemaking team and a valued consultant to our custom clients. To our family, John is more than just a great winemaker; he is a dear friend.  We can appreciate his decision to retire, ski, and travel.  Something he and his wife, Gayle, truly enjoy.  We will miss seeing John every day, but he and Gayle will still be around the winery, especially the tasting room on occasional weekends. 

Happy Retirement, John! We wish you and Gayle good health, much happiness, and exciting new adventures as you explore the world.  Proost!! 

Winemaker's Corner
by John Giannini    

It’s hard to believe December is already upon us.  This year has gone by at an extremely fast pace.

A change is coming to Van Ruiten Family Winery.  As of December 31, I will retire as Van Ruiten’s winemaker.  My wife, who is already retired, and I have plans to do some extensive traveling.  That is if COVID doesn’t lock down the world. 

It has been a great pleasure for me to work with Bill, Angie, Jim, and John.  The Van Ruiten family has always made me feel like part of their family.  They always make their employees’ well-being a priority which creates a very pleasant work environment.  I want to thank them for the opportunity to be part of this great team.  I would also like to thank the cellar crew and staff (Ryan, Jarreau, Juan, Akaylia, Billy, Darlene, Tonya, Duane, Alejandro, and Jesse) for working together to make the Van Ruiten Family Winery a success. 

The winemaking duties will be taken over by the very capable hands of Duane Dappen.  Duane has extensive experience as a winemaker in Napa Valley and has decided to make the move to Lodi. 

We all wish him continued success.

The cellar crew, staff, and I would like to wish you and your families a healthy and happy holiday season and a wonderful 2022.

Proost,  John



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