Rodney Strong, the founder of Rodney Strong Vineyards, has died at the age of 78.

Born and raised in Washington state, Strong entered the wine industry in 1961, when he bought a 160-acre vineyard in California. Over the next ten years, he increased his landholdings to almost 5,000 acres. During this time, Strong started Sonoma Vineyards, later to become Rodney Strong Vineyards.

Strong took the winery public in the early 1970s, although the largest shareholder took it private again before, following two buyouts, Rodney Strong Vineyards was bought by brewer Guinness Corp. Tom Klein bought the winery in 1989, keeping Strong as a brand representative.

Strong died on Sunday (5 March) of complications from a stroke. His wife, Charlotte, died in 2003. The couple had no children.