Thanks for stopping by Backroads Insider. We again welcome guest podcast Forks and Corks to host this very special episode featuring some of the best of the Napa Valley.
The Reynolds Family Winery is a small producer of high-end wines, reds primarily. They’re located in Coombsville, a sub-appellation of the Napa Valley. This boutique winery is into doing things by hand, like dipping the tops of special bottles into red wax and then adding their family crest to each before delivery.
The winery is located atop a windy driveway off the Silverado Trail, just north of Napa. The facility is small. The tasting room, crush and bottling all happen in one tall building. The warehouse, adobe-type structure has mustard-colored stucco walls and a pitched tin roof. The tasting room is warm and welcoming, and all the winemaking happens on the other side of the wall. That’s where the tanks and barrels are.
Steve and Suzy Reynolds decided to become winemakers upon their engagement. They decided to put roots down in the Napa Valley, and the property went into escrow before they were married. Steve says they planted the grapes in 1995, and their first vintage was 1999.
The artisan couple are true artisans. When they first designed their label, they decided to place dried mustard flowers on each bottle.
“We had to do something different that would stand out. That would be unique,” Steve explains. “And we’d seen this greeting card in a store that had this handmade flower that was pressed into homemade paper. And thought, it was just so cool. Just so simple and elegant.”
Steve and Suzie have since moved away from putting individual mustard flowers on each bottle. Instead, they an artist to create a scientific drawing of the yellow beauty.
The care that the couple put into their labels also goes into the wines. Steve takes us through the backdoor of the tasting room to the winery. The ceilings are two stories high. The floor is cement for easy cleaning. Barrels are stacked. There’s a handful of cellar workers cleaning and working the tanks. Steve’s son Cameron is dipping the tops of the Steadfast Cab into red wax, placing plastic sleeves over the tops and then gently sliding them into special black ammunition wine boxes.
This is where art, science and tradition intertwine.
Steve’s philosophy of winemaking is pure art and science. “Handcrafted, for sure. Respect to mother nature of course.” Steve found he could learn a lot from the old-time winemakers and take that knowledge and combine it with what he learned at UC Davis.
Because the winery is small and its focus is on high-end, premium red wines, Steve has decided to allow guests and wine club members to get to take a peek behind the curtain to see how wine is made. They can even self-serve from the barrel on occasion. He decided to get these special barrels. “These are called pearls,” Steve says. “This cooperage only makes 15 of these for the world every year. So they close their cooperage down in France for two weeks because this is a whole handmade certain process. And we got three of these. And I loved the look of them,” Steve says. He actually turned them into a “little more of a showpiece for our three top high end wines to allow people to sort of like soft ice cream self. We let them walk right up and do some barrel tastings out of these so we built some really beautiful custom stands out of stainless steel and let people come just get involved to get back here and taste themselves and do barrel tastings out of these.”
Arturo Irucuta, who’s originally from Mexico has now made the Napa Valley his home, is Steve’s partner in winemaking. Arturo is the assistant winemaker, but Steve jokes that Arturo does all the hard work. Actually, they’re both serious winemakers who love the challenge of making premium wines year after year.
Arturo says the blending of the grapes begins in the vineyard behind the winery. Arturo points out the vineyard and its soils, we’ve “got is kind of a mix of the rocky soil with some of the clay in the back, and really nice red soil as you can see here in the front. So the wine we grow here is the estate and the flavor profile, it’s really good because I don’t know how that happened but we got some kind of tobacco and chocolate flavor in the wine without adding any new oak any anything else to change the flavor.”
Steve adds, “The wood itself has many flavors that get imparted into the wine including how to fix the color or keep a color stable due to the acidity in the wood. So wood has many, many great functions for a wine.”
To learn more about how the Reynolds Family Winery makes wine, plan a visit. You can find them online at reynoldsfamilywinery.com
Forks and Corks is a production of Napa Valley Wine Magazine.