KR Rombauer was born in 1963 in Escondido, California, however, he spent most of his early years in the Dallas area, where his father was a pilot for Braniff Airlines.
In 1972, the Rombauer family moved to the Napa Valley close to the town of St. Helena. KR attended public schools in the area through high school. His first hands-on experience in the wine industry came in 1978 at age 15, when his parents became partners in Conn Creek Winery. KR worked in various capacities during construction, working the harvest and in the wine cellar.
After high school, KR attended California State University, Fresno, where he earned a degree in Business Administration. While KR was in college, his parents began construction of the Rombauer Vineyards winery. He assisted in many aspects of the construction and development of the new business during his time off from college. Upon graduation, KR returned to work at the family winery, primarily in production-related areas.
In 1990, as the winery became well established and the needs of the business evolved, KR moved from production to marketing and sales. There he gained valuable experience working in the national marketplace. He also has been general manager of the winery, and now serves on the Board of Directors and continues to consult with staff in the areas of marketing and sales.
KR and his wife, Laura, became the proud parents of a daughter, Ransome, in 1998. He shares his father’s interest in flying and holds his commercial pilot’s license. One of KR’s personal pleasures is enjoying the great abundance of Napa Valley’s fine foods and wines with family and friends.
The granddaughter of Koerner and daughter of Sheana Rombauer, Reagan grew up in Napa Valley and, like her mother before her, spent a good portion of her youth working at the family-owned winery.
“I was there all the time. Some of our long-term employees are just like family to me,” says Reagan, whose experience over the years includes jobs in the accounting department and tasting room; assisting with special events at the winery; and representing Rombauer at external sales events, tastings and auctions. In her current role as Sales & Marketing Support Manager, Reagan conducts sales presentations and assists with sales program development; represents the winery at industry conferences, promotional and philanthropic events; and assists in identifying strategic market opportunities, including exports. She also works on trade-directed education programs and provides market perspective to support development of promotional materials and events.
After graduating from high school, Reagan earned her Bachelor’s in Business Administration from Boise State University, at the same time working as a project manager in Boise’s International Business Organization. In this role, Reagan was introduced to people from all over the world as she secured funding for projects, wrote grants, and assisted with major club projects. She also served as an administrative assistant in the school’s Executive MBA Program. Following graduation, Reagan worked for New Directions Technologies Inc., a government contractor in California, first in administrative support and eventually as a project management analyst. Having also worked as a licensed real estate agent, she joined Rombauer in 2016 as Assistant Regional Sales Representative and was promoted to her current role in 2017.
Reagan credits her family for her entrepreneurial spirit. “Both sides of my family are successful business owners who taught me the importance of customer service, people skills and hard work,” she says.
Bob Knebel joined the executive team at Rombauer Vineyards in 2015 after serving on the winery’s Board of Directors for over 15 years. He is a seasoned senior sales executive who comes from a 35-year career in the general aviation industry. Prior to Rombauer, he served as Vice President, North American Sales at Embraer Executive Jets in Florida (2011-2015) and Vice President, Sales with Bombardier Flexjet in Texas (2003-2011). Earlier in his career, he held sales executive positions with Cessna Aircraft Co., Beech (Raytheon) Aircraft Co., Gates Learjet and Blue Max Aviation. Bob also co-founded Gemini Distributors/Securaplane, an import/export company involved in international aircraft sales and aircraft security systems.
Bob is no stranger to fine wine as his years in the business jet industry introduced him to Auction Napa Valley and other wine auction events and tastings around the country. “There are many similarities between the two industries, particularly in the customer base,” Bob says. “You’re talking about people who are accomplished and discerning, who are quality-oriented and have a passion for craftsmanship.” It is his deep understanding of this customer, as well as his experience in all aspects of business, strategic planning and people management, that Bob now applies to his role at Rombauer.
Bob also brings a deep and abiding respect for the Rombauer family, whom he first met in the early 1990s. “I can’t express how strongly I feel about the family, and what an honor it is to be able to further the founders’ wish to maintain a multi-generational family-owned and -operated winery.” He looks forward to building on Rombauer’s success alongside its talented team of professionals. “We work every day to become a more polished team, to make beautiful wines and provide world-class hospitality. We find great joy in doing this together.”
Richie Allen was raised in Melbourne, Australia, in a leafy suburb about 40 minutes east of Australia’s famous Yarra Valley wine region.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.