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Renteria Wines - Napa Valley

One of Napa Valley’s most respected and sought after winegrowers.

One of the great Mexican-American success stories is that of Salvador Renteria, the heart and soul behind this month’s Platinum Series Wine Club feature of Renteria Wines. His story is one of innovation, hard work, and serious love of the land. It is a journey that began in 1962 and today comes full circle as his son Oscar continues the Renteria family tradition as one of Napa Valley’s most respected and sought after winegrowers.

Salvador Renteria is a Mexican immigrant from Jalisco, Mexico who followed his older brother north to Napa Valley to work a wine grape harvest in the early 1960’s. Salvador had been working as a barber in Mexico, but was tempted by the endless opportunities California had to offer. This trip to Napa Valley seemed to be the start of something better.

Unfortunately, this wasn’t quite the case.

Salvador was miserable during his first harvest, with the fall of 1963 bringing unusually wet weather, and he returned home to Mexico after just a few months.

The career opportunities of California and the United States continued to pull at him though, and that same year he moved to Chicago to pursue a future in barbering. Again, Salvador didn’t find what he was looking for. He finally decided to give Napa Valley a second chance and took a job as a field laborer at Sterling Vineyards.

This time, the fit was undeniable.

Salvador fell in love with the wine grape growing culture, and took a special interest in nearby UC Davis’s vineyard trials for optimizing the technical aspects of vineyards. His talents were quickly recognized and Sterling promoted Salvador to vineyard supervisor where he excelled in his position for the next decade.

With news of Salvador Renteria’s innovative grape management techniques spreading throughout the Valley, a number of wineries approached him to oversee their own vineyards. Before long, Salvador was working with Beaulieu Vineyards, Clos Pegase, Cuvaison and Silverado, lowering their yields and upping the grape quality. His hispanic heritage proved to be beneficial as well, as it helped bridge the often difficult cultural and communication gaps between wineries and vineyard workers. Salvador Renteria was on the fast track to success.

Fast forward to 1987 and Salvador had started his own vineyard management company (Renteria Vineyard Management), one of the first Mexican owned vineyard management companies in Napa Valley, and today, one of the largest in the industry. Current clients include such prestigious estates as William Selyem, Robert Mondavi Winery, Caymus, Rombauer, and Duckhorn.

In 1993, Salvador’s son Oscar, who had worked alongside his father for many years, took over the reins of the company and molded it into the successful business it is today.

Renteria Wines became a reality four years later in 1997, completing the circle of the family’s involvement in northern California’s wine industry. The family winery was Oscar’s idea, and he called upon legendary winemaker Karen Culler to consult on the project and help make it happen. Karen Culler is one of the great winemakers of Napa and Sonoma Counties, consulting for a number of northern California’s most celebrated estates: Ladera, Rivera Vineyards, Wolf Family Vineyards, Culler Wines (her own label), and Renteria Wines. Culler’s talent is unmistakable as she crafts among the most sought-after wines in the state. Together, Oscar and Karen produced the first Renteria Wines vintage in 1997 and that first release (a Napa Cabernet Sauvignon) garnered an impressive 91 Points.

Renteria Wines is a small operation, producing just about 2,000 cases each year of mostly Cabernet Sauvignon and Pinot Noir from various vineyards controlled by the Renteria Vineyard Management Company. With access to some of the most sought after vineyards in Napa and Sonoma Counties, Reneteria’s wine grape choices are practically unlimited, putting the winery in an unusually flexible and desirable position in obtaining world-class fruit.

Renteria Wines are currently produced at the Michael Mondavi Estate custom crush facility in Carneros and visitors are asked to come by the shared tasting room called Maisonry in Napa Valley. This ‘winery collective’ offers tastings from a handful of boutique producers and is truly a unique wine tasting experience.

Renteria Wines, and the family behind it, are undoubtedly a special addition to the northern California wine culture and we hope you enjoy the fruits of their labor with this month’s special wine selection. Cheers!

  1. Renteria
    2012 Chardonnay
    Los Carneros
    Napa Valley


    94 - Beverage Testing
    id: 2284

Karen Culler, Winemaker

Karen Culler started her winemaking career as a child, making homemade wine with her father and grandfather in Ohio. Her job was destemming the clusters by hand. Many vintages later, after completing her Bachelor’s degree in Botany and Agronomy (i.e. plants and dirt) from Ohio State University, she moved to Seattle. Bored with her job in a marine biology lab, she decided to use her extensive Ohio winemaking experience and went to work for Columbia Winery in Seattle. Imagine her surprise when she found out there were machines to destem the grapes from the clusters! Imagine her Ohio parent’s surprise when they heard of her new career choice (“They pay people to make wine?).

After a year at Columbia, she left to go to UC Davis to get her Master’s Degree in Viticulture and Enology (i.e. grapes and wine). Again she heard from Ohio, “They teach that at a university?” Graduating from UC Davis in 1984, she started a six month internship at Robert Mondavi Winery in their Research Department. Six months turned into two years and when Robert Mondavi purchased Vichon Winery, Karen decided to move up the Oakville Grade to Vichon as Assistant Winemaker in 1986. In 1989, she became Winemaker. All went well making Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc, Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon until 1996 when it was decided to disband the Vichon Napa Valley brand, in favor of wines imported from the south of France for the Vichon Mediterranean brand. Karen decided to keep her roots in Napa Valley and she started her own label, Culler Wines, with the harvest of 1997. She also consults as winemaker to various other wineries in Napa Valley, including: Renteria Wines, Wolf Family Vineyards, Ladera, Rivera Vineyards and her own wine of course, Culler Wines.

For Culler Wines, Karen seeks out vineyards, primarily in Napa Valley and a few select areas outside of Napa, for grapes that can best express the characteristics of the variety, terroir, and grower’s quirks in the resulting wine. She produces Syrah, Cabernet Sauvignon and a Meritage blend, using the “Cabernet family grapes”. Ideally, she is working toward making vineyard designated wines which would not only showcase the vineyard’s qualities, but also honor the grower’s efforts in the winemaking process.

Salvador and Oscar Renteria

Dear Platinum Series Members,

Renteria Wines have come full circle. Starting with the 1997 vintage, having unparalleled choice of fruit, and with the addition of winemaker Karen Culler’s assistance, the plan all came together and culminated in the making of the Renteria Wines brand.

It all started in 1963 when Salvador Renteria arrived at Sterling Vineyards, working his way up from vineyard worker to foreman. He went on to oversee many of Napa Valley’s well known vineyards and earned the respect of noted winemakers. Eventually, in 1987, he started his own vineyard management company, based on the high demand and stellar reputation as a winemaker’s grower. Renteria and his family made their mark with Renteria Vineyard Management, one of the largest grape-farming firms in Northern California.

Passing to the next generation, Sal’s son Oscar assumed leadership of Renteria Vineyard Management in 1993, successfully adopting his father’s demanding standards. While making wine was Oscar’s idea, it was also a way of completing the circle to honor his father’s hard work, achievements and reputation in Napa Valley.

We hope you enjoy this wine that Beverage Testing Institute gave a Gold Medal, 94 Points and said it was ‘Exceptional.’


The Renteria Family
Renteria Wines & Renteria Vineyard Management