In Remembrance: Rolf Engen- Wine Industry Visionary
July 31, 2018
Rolf Engen- Wine Industry Visionary
Rolf passed away peacefully surrounded by his family at his home in Laguna Beach, CA. He was five days short of his 89th birthday.
Rolf’s Wine and Spirits opened in 1953 in Tustin, CA. With the success of that store, Rolf opened many more wine and spirit shops in Orange County, his most significant being in Newport Beach, Tustin and Irvine. The Newport Beach wine shop is still in operation. Rolf’s Wine and Spirits were “game-changer”, wine focused, retail shops. Wine Education, Food and Wine Events and Tastings, Wine Dignitary Occasions, Custom Gift Packs, Delivery Service, Exclusive Imported Wines, Private Labels, just to name some of the elements that made Rolf’s an innovative retail brand. Starting in the early 1960’s he began his travels to Europe to source the high-quality French, German and Italian wines, and he was one of the first to import and introduce these to the Orange County marketplace. Rolf’s was ahead of its time.
As Rolf gradually sold his retail empire, he changed focus to other wine related ideas and strategies. He started Wine Bar Dispensing Machines, Wine Life Preserving Spray, Vin Air Airline Wine Dispensing, Winequest Kiosk Wine and Food Pairing Recommendations, Compu-wine Wine Style Icons, Wine Consultant for Paragon Restaurant Group, Ambassador for The Progressive Wine List, and the list goes on.
Rolf was the face of wine for southern California for 6 decades. Respected and revered by his community, customers, employees, and wine industry members and leaders, Rolf was a wine industry visionary, and a mentor to thousands of wine novices as well as the wine experienced. The last wine he enjoyed with his family was a 1982 Chateau Mouton Rothschild. What a symbolic way to finish his wonderful career and life, with one of the most iconic Bordeaux wines in history.
He left a legacy in the volleyball community as well. Engen was a Hall of Fame player, state-champion high school coach, and Commissioner of volleyball in the 1984 Olympic Games in Los Angeles. He was recruited by John Wooden to play basketball at UCLA. He was an avid tennis player and a true athlete.
He is survived by his wife- Carol, children- Hollie Ragland (Greg), Kip Engen (Sherry), David Engen (Shauna), grandchildren- Dylan Ragland, Dustin Ragland, Jackson Engen and Thane Engen, daughter in law- Glynnis Engen. He is preceded in death by his children- Matthew Engen and Janalea Engen.