A brief history
Meet The Winemakers
Richie Allen was raised in Melbourne, Australia, in a leafy suburb about 40 minutes east of Australia’s famous Yarra Valley wine region.View More
Influenced greatly by his parents’ keen interest, Richie grew up with a greater appreciation of wine than the average young Australian male. Upon graduation from high school in 1996, Richie chose to explore his knowledge in an alternate area of interest: molecular biology. Always the model student, he graduated at the top of his class. He was not, however, convinced with the path he was laying down for himself.
Richie embarked on a four-month rock climbing holiday to the United States to clear his thoughts. It was on this adventure that fate came knocking in the form of an invitation to a day of wine tasting. Richie was so taken and inspired by the Californian wines he tasted that day that it was suddenly clear to him what he needed to do.
He promptly returned to Australia and spent the next few years engrossed in winemaking studies at Australia’s prestigious The University of Adelaide. After graduating in 2003, he set about gaining as much practical winery experience as possible from top Australian and New Zealand producers including Penfolds, Oakridge, Church Road and Vavasour.
He eventually found himself back in California, on the doorstep of Rombauer Vineyards to undertake cellar work for the 2004 and 2005 harvests. Richie’s enthusiasm, vast and growing knowledge, and attention to detail were keenly identified, and he was asked to continue on at Rombauer to see this potential expertly developed and nurtured. He was hired as a full-time enologist in 2006 and became Assistant Winemaker the following year. In 2008, he was promoted to Head Winemaker.
Having worked his way from the ground up, Richie assumed the position of Rombauer’s Director of Viticulture and Winemaking in 2013. In this role, Richie strives to achieve consistency of style and continual improvement in viticultural and winemaking techniques by melding both traditional and modern approaches. Under his leadership, Rombauer’s Carneros Chardonnay accomplished the rare feat of consecutive appearances on the prestigious Wine Spectator annual Top 100 Wines list with the 2012 and 2013 vintages. In 2017, Richie was named one of North Bay Business Journal’s Forty Under 40, an award recognizing young business professionals who demonstrate leadership in their companies and industries.
Away from the winery, you’re likely to find Richie pursuing his passion for photography and filmmaking. He lives in Napa with his wife, Nat, and their daughter, Violet, who is the frequent target of his lens.
Though he grew up just 40 minutes from some of Australia’s most famous and revered wine regions, Luke Clayton had no intention of going into winemaking.View More
But after attending a “career day” that focused on the wine industry his final year of high school, his mind was made up. In 2000, he enrolled at The University of Adelaide in South Australia, and four years later he graduated with a bachelor’s degree in Agricultural Science with a focus on Oenology.
After college, Luke embarked on a series of cellar and harvest positions in South Australia, gaining more experience in wineries and vineyards. In 2005, he was chosen to participate in an agricultural exchange program and came to work at Rombauer Vineyards as a harvest intern. What was supposed to be a several-month harvest stint turned into an 18-month work experience. “I met someone,” says Luke, “so I stayed.”
When his work visa ran out, Luke traveled for several months in Europe, then returned to South Australia and took a position as harvest assistant enologist at Hardy’s Tintara in McLaren Vale. In August 2008, Luke was able to return to Rombauer as cellar hand and laboratory assistant, where he worked in all aspects of winemaking, including laboratory analysis, bottling and — fittingly — managing harvest interns. He quickly worked his way up to the Assistant Winemaker position in 2009, and in 2013, he was named Rombauer’s Associate Winemaker. In 2019 he was named Rombauer’s Winemaker.
At Rombauer, Luke’s winemaking philosophy is straightforward: “Wine comes from fruit so it should taste like fruit.” An avid taster and collector of wines, Luke is keen to keep evolving professionally. “I always want to improve; otherwise you just fall behind.”
Luke is now married to Kristin — the “someone” he met when he did his first internship at Rombauer. Though he loves team sports and follows cricket and Australian rules football closely, he doesn’t get to participate as much as he used to. He and Kristin are the busy parents of twin girls.
It was a chance encounter with Koerner Rombauer that brought Andrew Holloway to Napa Valley — and into the wine business.View More
Andrew was raised in Oklahoma by restaurateur parents who early on instilled in him a love of food and wine. But at the University of Oklahoma, where he went to school, Andrew worked toward a bachelor’s in Microbiology, with the intention of attending medical school after graduation. Late in his senior year, however, he had a change of heart, deciding he’d rather forge a career from his most passionate interests: food and wine. But Andrew wasn’t sure how to merge these passions with his background in science.
Enter Koerner, who happened to be conducting a wine dinner at one of the Holloway family’s Oklahoma restaurants. They were tasting through wines at the bar, talking about life and work, and Koerner invited Andrew to work a harvest at Rombauer Vineyards. A few short months later and Andrew’s fate was sealed. “I realized that winemaking was the perfect merging of science with my true passions.”
After two harvests at Rombauer, with stints in between helping to manage his parents’ business, Andrew spent a harvest in New Zealand to broaden his experience. He returned to Rombauer in 2012 to take a full-time position as a cellar worker. In 2014 — while still at Rombauer — he took a harvest assignment in Tasmania, where he had the opportunity to work with cool-climate varieties and sparkling wines. Upon his return, he was promoted to Assistant Winemaker. Having completed six harvests in four years, Andrew had gained enough experience and knowledge to take on this challenging new role. In July of 2019 Andew was promoted to Associate Winemaker.
Andrew is happily settled in Napa Valley, where his restaurateur parents visit “at least” several times a year. His mother is one of Andrew’s — and Rombauer’s — biggest supporters. In fact, she recently retired the dressage horse she had fittingly named Rombauer.
Rombauer Vineyards Wines
On the nose, concentrated aromas of ripe blackberry and boysenberry meld with black tea, vanilla and spice. Lush flavors of fig, blackberry jam, licorice and vanilla flood the palate, followed by touches of dark chocolate and white pepper in the background.
The nose is expressive, with aromas of red cherry and sage with a hint of violet, spice and toast. The wine is full-bodied, packed with flavors of raspberry and black cherry, along with notes of violet and toast from the oak. Supple tannins carry through to a fine and smooth finish.