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About Our Founder

When vision meets determination.

If there’s one thing Leslie Rudd believed in, it was that hard work and determination pay off.

Through the Rudd Foundation, Leslie established a program that rewards promising students who embody the fundamental principles of success he learned growing up in Wichita, KS.


Our Beginning

From humble beginnings, Leslie started working in the family business, Standard Beverage Corporation, while he was in high school.

He quickly realized he had a lot to learn about business before he would eventually take over the company. The Midwestern values of humility, hard work, and honesty became his true teachers and the bedrock of his entrepreneurial life.

In addition to leading Standard Beverage, Leslie was undoubtedly a serial entrepreneur. He was never one to wait around for good things to happen. Instead, Leslie was determined to make them happen. He founded Leslie Rudd Investment Company, a privately-owned portfolio of luxury businesses that stemmed from his insatiable curiosity for food, wine and history.

Originating in Wichita, Kansas, but expanding into businesses throughout the heart of Napa Valley, California, the portfolio included the Rudd Oakville Estate, Edge Hill Estate, Oakville Grocery, Dean & DeLuca, Distillery No. 209, PRESS Restaurant, Vintage Wine Estates, Covenant Wines, and Rudd Farms, to name a few.


Rooted in Kansas

Even in building his wealth, Leslie never forgot his Kansas roots or the heartland ideals that he learned there.

Grit, self-motivation and continuous improvement paved his way to achieving the extraordinary dreams Leslie chased. Those close to him knew that his high standards and direct communication grew from his huge heart and his desire to see the businesses succeed.

Leslie also believed in paying it forward, passing down expertise and commitment through generations. He could feel the reward of investing in driven, young people willing to learn. His influence is reflected in his daughter Samantha through her earned success and dedication to excellence as the current steward of the Rudd Estate.

Following in his footsteps, the Rudd Foundation continues to recognize students who exhibit the grit and determination that Leslie passionately believed in. By awarding the prestigious scholarship in his honor, we help them to see that their ambitious efforts really do pay off.

Mostly, Leslie believed in giving a hand up and not a hand out.

I know that I can never repay Leslie or thank him enough for the gift that is the Rudd Foundation and scholarship. I know for a fact that I would not have gone to college, much less completed college during a pandemic, if it were not for his generous gift.”

–Abby Rowden


Through the Rudd Foundation, Leslie Rudd's legacy of giving back continues to impact communities in meaningful ways.