Don Reha, Winemaker, Orfila Vineyards, San Diego, CA

08/04/2009 15:35


Don Reha joined the Orfila Vineyards in 2009 after Leon Santoro passed away in January of this year. He has grown up in the wine industry with experience on his childhood family vineyards in Ukiah, CA (Mendocino County). As a winemaker his career started at Fetzer Vineyards in Redwood Valley and studied at UC Davis focusing on Enology and Fermentation Sciences. 

Gottannins is happy to provide you with some of his insight. Enjoy!

What was the first memory you have of wine?  

When my Great Uncle, Joseppi Lorenzi, would give us kids a small “Cheez-Whiz” glass of half wine and half water when I was about 4 years old.

What was the first wine that you considered to be good wine? 

There were 2 – A Fetzer Vineyards 1985 Reserve Chardonnay – Mendocino County, and a 1982 Silver Oak Alexander Valley Cab

Do you think it's the taste of a good wine or the experience while drinking the wine that makes it good?  Why? 

I think a combination of both. When all the sensory elements of a wine are banging, and the wine completely exceeds your expectations of the varietal, you tend to remember it. And when you are drinking a wine during a particularly memorable event, such as a first date, everything is good because your mood is heightened, and it seems nothing can be less than stellar! I’ve had those moments where a wine seems outstanding at the time because of the circumstances, then had the same wine again….. maybe alone….. and it just wasn’t as good as I seemed to remember.

How big is your cellar?  

I tend to have an average of about 500 bottles in my cellar at any given time, but I call it my “McDonalds” wine collection – because of the high turnover rate!

What is your favorite varietal (i.e. Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot)? Why? 

Hmmm….. if I had to pick just one, I would have to go with Zinfandel. Anyone who knows me knows my focus has been on Zinfandel for many years, and because it is so versatile, and can be so different from one appellation to the next, there is always something this varietal can teach you.

What is your favorite region for wine (i.e. Napa Valley, Margaret River, Montelcino) 

Well, besides the South Coast in general, I would have to say the Anderson Valley because of the Pinot Noirs, and the Douro Valley in Portugal, because of the effort it takes to grow grapes on the steep hillsides there, and also it’s the only place I know of that you can drive along those 1 ½ lane roads all day and stop at a little roadside shack for a beer and a salted sardine for a snack

What is your favorite vineyard or brand? 

It changes all the time, but right now it’s Goldeneye in Anderson Valley for their Pinot’s

Do you have a favorite bottle? (varietal, region, year) 

1995 Screaming Eagle Napa Valley

What wine are you saving for a special day?  

1999 Dom Perignon

Where do you buy the majority of your wine? (Retailer, Direct, etc. Feel free to name the store you shop at or the site you buy from) Mostly at the winery, to take advantage of interwinery discounts. Can’t seem to get that discount at Bev-Mo!

What is the most you've ever spent on a bottle of wine? 

$1,350.00 during a dinner with a supplier from an equipment company. It was in Bordeaux during a trade show, and the bistro was recommended to us because of their wine list, and hey, I had a company credit card, so why not?

What was your favorite wine experience (or one of your top experiences)? 

One of my top experiences was the Blue Jeans to Black Tie dinners they used to have every year the night before the big ZAP tasting in San Francisco. There was just something about being dressed in Levi’s with a black tie…. And drinking so many Zinfandels in one night, that your teeth were stained red for a week!

Do you have an embarrassing or funny experience to share? 

Oh, I have plenty of great stories. Especially from my time at Renwood Winery in Amador county with a couple of co-workers that were close friends, but to tell them could really embarrass others involved, so let’s just say that what happened at Renwood stayed at Renwood!

What one wine do you recommend for our readers to try? 

The Orfila “Lotus” Estate Viognier.  It’s why I love this varietal!

What is an up-and-coming wine (or winery) you think is a good value right now?

I think Syrah is still the up and coming red varietal. It is still slowly but surely gaining ground, and there are some exceptional values that still exist today for this variety.

For more information about purchasing wines from Orfila, please click here. 



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