Renée Ary

Renée Ary

Duckhorn Vineyards (Winemaker)

Renée Ary was born and raised in Bergen County, New Jersey, but found her way to California for her college education at St. Mary’s University in Moraga. In 1999, immediately after earning her bachelor’s degree in chemistry and art, Renee accepted a position as a laboratory technician at Robert Mondavi Winery in Oakville. She remained there for four years, benefiting from the mentorship of luminaries such as Genevieve Janssens, Steve Leveque, and Richard Sowalsky. In this role, her background in science provided a strong technical foundation for her understanding of winemaking. Fascinated by the fact that successful winemaking is a combination of science and art, becoming a winemaker became Renée’s passion and professional goal. To achieve this goal, in addition to her hands-on work at Mondavi, Renée augmented her scholarly understanding of winemaking and viticulture with classes at the University of California, Davis, and Napa Valley College.

Renée joined Duckhorn Vineyards in 2003 as lab manager, where she worked alongside renowned winemakers Mark Beringer and Bill Nancarrow, honing her winemaking skills and refining her palate. She rose through the ranks from lab manager to enology manager, assistant winemaker and associate winemaker, and then in February of 2014 her being named the fourth winemaker in the four-decade history of Duckhorn Vineyards. More recently, she was promoted to the position of vice president of Napa Valley winemaking.

In describing her approach to winemaking, Renée says, “Working with the best, I’ve learned to challenge myself on every level, from a technical understanding of winemaking to the artistry of the blend. I’ve also learned to view my role as a winemaker as part of an ongoing story. As a winemaker, I am contributing to the legacy of a great winery, and building on the work of the talented people who laid the foundation for excellence.” Furthermore, she adds, “I am blessed to work with some of Napa Valley’s most exceptional grapes. When you work with fruit of this quality, there is no recipe or formula. My job is to let the vineyards speak and convey the soul of the wine.” To achieve this, she works in small lots, tailoring her techniques to create balanced, complex and age-worthy wines. As a measure of her winemaking talents, Renee’s debut 2014 vintage of the revered Three Palms Vineyard Merlot was named “Wine of the Year” by Wine Spectator, on its list of the “Top 100 Wines” in the world in 2017.

Outside of work, Renée is an active member of a wine tasting group made up of women winemakers. She loves to ski, kayak, and spend time with her husband and son.