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Reynolds Family Winery - Napa Valley


95 Points, Anthony Dias Blue - 93 Points, Wine News

Steve Reynolds feels he was destined to be in the wine business since his youth. The Oklahoma native’s father was in the electrical business and the family moved numerous times during Reynolds’ youth, including a seven year stint in a small town just south of Munich in southern Germany. “My father was almost fanatical about wine and was an avid wine collector,” Reynolds, 47, recently recalled. “Most of our family outings centered around wine and wineries and we never had a meal where there wasn’t a bottle of wine on the table.” Reynolds returned to the United States after high school and attended the University of Washington. He next went to the University of the Pacific where he graduated in dentistry in 1986. He eventually wound up in the Lodi-Stockton area where he practiced dentistry and where he was first introduced to his future wife, Suzie.

“Suzie was at St. Mary’s College in nearby Moraga, and we started dating. She had a best friend at the school that was dating a guy from Napa named Oscar Renteria,” Reynolds added. “We all started hanging out together during the late 1980’s and going to the Napa Valley on weekends and holidays where Renteria’s father was a vineyard manager.” In 1993, the couple became engaged. A fifteen-minute conversation between the pair on a return trip from Napa persuaded Reynolds to sell his Central Valley practice and move to Napa.

“We decided we loved Napa and wanted to be gentlemen farmers and make homemade wine on the side in our garage. I started a new practice and Suzie continued to work in her family’s insurance business.” The Reynolds’ jump into the wine business began for real in 1995 when an old chicken farm on the Silverado Trail, just south of the prestigious Stag’s Leap District, became available. With the help of the couple’s old friend Oscar Renteria, Steve Reynolds attempted to buy the property. Once the probate issues were resolved involving the former owners, Reynolds took the matter into his own hands and began work on restoring the dilapidated houses on the property. He continued to produce home made wines in his garage as a hobby.

Under Renteria’s direction, vineyards were planted and, in 1999, the first wines were made from a small portion of some very specific vines that had dropped fruit a few months earlier. The finished wines were well-received by friends and acquaintances and Reynolds decided it was time to get into the wine business on a larger scale. The Reynolds Family Winery’s first release of around 2,000 cases came at the start of the new millennium amid a rash of personal challenges for Reynolds. Combined with the time commitment needed for his six-month old baby, Reynolds also lost his inspirational father (and winery investor). In addition, he was forced to give up his dental practice when the running of his new winery operation proved too time consuming.

“I was really up against it,” Reynolds admitted. “It wasn’t the greatest time in my life, but I had no real choices. The winery demanded someone be there on a full time basis. I called on my friends and neighbors, and everyone pitched in and helped out.” Basically self taught as a winemaker, Steve Reynolds took courses at UC Davis for two years to perfect his art. He credits South African winemaker Anthony Bell for seeing him through the hardest time in his winery’s evolution.

The rest is practically a chapter from a romantic novel. The first Reynolds Family wines were incredibly well received, as were the succeeding releases. Today, Reynolds Family Winery has grown to around 7,500 cases and will top off at around 8,000 in the near future. Reynolds has also been active in two other winery ventures, a fun brand called Naughty with old friend Renteria, and an innovative brand called Thirteen that brings together grapes from Napa’s finest growing districts in one amazing bottle.

Through it all, Steve and Suzie Reynolds have truly enjoyed the experience. Suzie still does the winery’s books in addition to her insurance duties and the couple now enjoy three children. Cameron Reynolds, 8, already has stated his intention to be a winemaker.

That all sets well with Steve and Suzie Reynolds who got into the wine business with the hope that people would really appreciate the prospect of true hand crafted wines from their estate vineyards.



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