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reininger winery

Founded: 1997
Chuck & Tracy Reininger

Chuck Reininger

Current Production: 2,000 cases, with a goal of 4,000 cases

Current Distribution: Predominantly WA

Wines Produced: Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Syrah (Spring 2001)

Chuck Reininger's journey to Walla Walla was serendipity. The Bellevue, Wash., native's in-laws, who live in Walla Walla, got interested in wine about the same time he did. He and his wife moved to Walla Walla in 1992, and he began to make his own wine in 1993, starting his winery in 1997. His '99 vintage will be about 2,000 cases, and he'll eventually top out his production at 4,000 cases. Already, Reininger has gotten into the viticultural side: He has planted 37 acres of cabernet, merlot and syrah vines in the western Walla Walla Valley.

Reininger debuted his first vintage with a powerful, concentrated and elegant Cabernet Sauvignon Walla Walla Valley 1997 (Wine Spectator rating 92, $26), with distinctive violet and spice notes, and a refined, elegant Merlot Walla Walla Valley 1998 (Wine Spectator rating 89, $26), with lovely plum and black currant flavors.

WineSquire.com says : "A newer wine I can recommend is the 1998 Reininger Cabernet Sauvignon from Walla Walla. A nice drinking wine with chocolaty notes, strong color and nicely priced."

"Bucko" says on the venerable Wineloverspage.com":

"Chuck originally had plans to open a microbrewery. He got the bug for winemaking by assisting long time friends, Eric and Janet Rindal, with operations at their winery, Waterbrook. This progressed to home winemaking, then founding the present winery. He went to UC Davis for formal classes in winemaking.

Chuck has quite an unusual background and is very modest about it. He was a mountain climbing guide on Mount Rainier. He likes to say that his thirst for adventure changed to a thirst for wine, and his enthusiasm shows.

Already outgrowing the winery that is housed in a renovated movie theater, expansion plans are on the horizon. "

As Bucko predicted, Reininger Winery was the first of five boutique wineries located at the historic Walla Walla Regional Airport. In the fall of 2001 that number grew to seven.

The winery's small but functional 1,700 square foot facility has a unique past as a WWII Army Air Corp Runway "crash house" and movie theater. The floor is the only part of the original structure that still remains.

With a commitment to staying small to guarantee the highest care and quality, the Reiningers plan to limit production in this facility to 3000 cases per year.

Their dedication to bringing out the best in the Walla Walla fruit has been well-rewarded. They've received rave reviews and awards for their Syrah, Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and Cabernet Franc. Wine critic, Bruce Sanderson of the Wine Spectator pronounced that Reininger wines demonstrate 'power and elegance'. And their 1999 Merlot scored "The Grand Award" at the Northwest Enological Society wine competition - an award not always given in this particular competition but given when the judges unanimously decree a wine is of exceptional merit.."

The Winemaker

Along with attending winemaking courses at University of California - Davis, Chuck began his informal training at the early age of six. Chuck's family planned and took annual summer vacations to various national parks around the country. These summer excursions seeded in Chuck, a deep connection and fascination with the outdoors. Seeking a way to harness his passion for nature and adventure, Chuck spent many years as a mountaineering guide on Mt. Rainier. Chuck sees several parallelisms between winemaking and climbing. Both require patience, the ability to assess the medium and the environment, anticipation and in Chuck's vision, both have a common goal- "To experience the journey and to reach the top."

Hard Work and a Gifted Palate

Chuck is convinced that his early exposure to nature taught him to pay attention to the unique details that make up the whole. It is his gifted palate and past experiences that make Chuck the very intuitive winemaker he is today. He strives at all times to ensure that his wine is the best that it can be. It is this dedication that has made Reininger one of Washington's top wineries.

A Philosophy of Winemaking

Chuck's goal is to capture and enhance the essence of each vintage by exposing its terroir - that is, the physical and non-physical elements of the vineyard habitat. The true concept of the meaning is not easily grasped by most. The French define it as the vine, the subsoil, siting, drainage, microclimate as well as the spiritual aspects of the vineyard's history. Chuck feels that you must always be aware of these factors when making wine. "Wine is a reflection of everything that's happened to the grapes, a time capsule, I enjoy bringing out the flavors locked in the grapes and making them shine."

Reininger Winery


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