A few miles off State Route 79 in Temecula, California, lies a 12-acre patch of paradise known as Robert Renzoni Vineyards. This Riverside County vintner has been operating in Temecula Valley since 2008, but as Robert Renzoni will tell you, the company’s winemaking roots stretch back much further.
“My family’s been in the wine industry since 1886,” said Robert. “Fourth generation winemaker, and it dates back to the Marche region of Italy, which is where the Mondavi family’s from to be exact. Actually, I was named by Robert Mondavi.”
When Robert Renzoni was designing his winery in Temecula, he knew he wanted to pay homage to his family’s heritage in winemaking, stretching back to his great-grandfather, Federico. Robert’s grandfather joined a winemaking and import business that Federico and his brother-in-law had founded in the 1930s, and together they built a successful enterprise.
Two generations later, Robert said he felt called to bring the family’s rich tradition in winemaking into the modern era.
Harnessing sunlight and rain
While the Renzoni family has been making award-winning wines for more than 130 years, this company is anything but old-fashioned. Robert is always searching for ways to operate the business more efficiently, whether that’s using water conservation techniques or employing an environmentally friendly method of growing grapes that draws on the power of the sun.
“We are about to be labeled the very first and only 100 percent solar powered winery in the history of southern California,” said Robert. “As soon as the county lets us flip on the switch, we will be labeled, which is pretty cool. We also have been the first rainwater harvesting tank holding winery in the history of southern California.
When it rains at the winery, water is funneled underground and into storage tanks that are hooked up to pumps. Robert’s team can then recirculate this valuable water through irrigation systems around the vineyard. In a region that averages about 12 inches of rain per year, this vineyard is making the most of each drop.
The wine comes first
A deep focus on quality and wine craft is an integral part of Robert Renzoni and his family. As Robert looks ahead to the future, he sees the next generation stepping in to continue the winemaking tradition.
“I started making wine at the ripe age of six years old with my grandfather and wine vinegar,” said Robert. “I’ve passed on that tradition to my daughter Lyric. She was working with her grandfather at seven and she now has her own wine. It’s a dry rosé Provence style, which we make for her. And it’s fun because she comes in and bless the juice every year.”
When Robert was planning to start his winery, he said that some banks did not take his family’s history as winemakers into account. Robert said that he had trouble finding the right lender until he met with a team that better understood agriculture and the wine business.
“American AgCredit stepped in and said, ‘No, we believe in you,’” said Robert. “They were there for me. They believed in me. They helped me get to where I am.”
All of the effort has paid off for Robert Renzoni, who said he is honored to continue the family tradition in making delicious wine.
“I’m just at this point trying to carry on the legacy,” said Robert Renzoni. “I’m proud to say we haven’t received a point below 90 points in over five years from Wine Enthusiast. The motto we live by here at the winery is the wine comes first.”