An Entrepreneurial Spirit
Based on comradery and an appreciation for extraordinary wine, The Wine Thief, located at the corner of First and McKinstry in Downtown Napa is a tasting collective celebrating small family owned brands.
A collaboration between vintners, the one of a kind tasting destination offers guests an authentic experience showcasing the region’s character through virtuosity.
“What sets us apart is the ability to take someone on a wine journey, having 10, 11 or 12 producers and a really broad spectrum of wines and different varietals. We are able to cater to all of the individual pallets,” said Proprietor, Andy Renda. “Ultimately, we sell rarity and exclusivity. I don’t think people need to fly to Napa to find something they can find at home. It’s more of a, ‘show me what I can’t find,’ philosophy. That’s a big part of our char- ter and delivering what we believe are pretty special world-class wines without the pretense. We are trying to build an elevated experience that is a lot of fun.” A concept driven by vintners for vinters, proprietors Garrett Ahnfeldt and Andy Renda have created a haven for oenophiles. A partnership inspired by artisanship and passion, the visionaries behind the boutique collective officially opened their doors on July 11th, 2015.
With a foundation rooted in viticulture, Garrett Ahnfeldt’s heritage proved to inspire.Cultivating a passion for farming in his youth, Garrett drove tractors by the time he was seven years old.
Growing up in the “Valley” as locals call it, gave Garrett a deep appreciation for the wine industry and the community.
“When I was younger, I lived out in the country. My child-hood was full of sports, running through vineyards, and playing with neighbors. The sense of community was paramount,” said Ahnfeldt. “My Dad taught me how to ride tractors at a young age and I helped my parents in the vineyards. Looking back, I cherish those memories.”
Moving to the Napa Valley in 1985, the Ahnfeldt family built a legacy selling world class grapes and launching Ahnfeldt Wines in 2002, which was released in 2004. By the time he was 24 years old, Garrett knew exactly where he wanted to be after leaving Sacramento State to help with his family’s business. Tapping into his agricultural roots, Garrett farmed for his family and friends prior to starting Ahnfeldt Vineyard Management Company. Growing for Ahnfeldt Wines among other notable brands, Garrett’s passion lead to his next adventure in the wine industry. In 2005, G Wine Cellars was born. Garrett’s years spent in the vineyards gave him a unique voice full of elegance and vitality.
“What is truly special about G Wine Cellars is that it has taken me to so many places. Wine brings so many beautiful people together and relationships that will last a lifetime,”said Ahnfeldt. “I hold that very dear to my heart.”
A Vintner and “Honest Cook,” Andrew J. Renda (Andy) began his career in the food industry at the young age of 14. By the time he 17, Andy was honing his culinary craft, cooking for “The Country Club,” in Brookline, MA. Over the next six years, Andy developed a palate for great food and wine pairings while working in restaurants and retail shops.
“By the time I was 23 years old, I knew that a career in wine was what I wanted to do for the rest of my life,” said Renda.“It was that defined for me. I could not read enough, I could not taste enough, I picked the brains of people who had done it for years and years.”
Managing two retail shops in the Boston Area, Andy’s global exposure fostered his ambition. Setting his sights on the wine business in the Napa Valley,Andy asked his future wife and Mother of his two children, Maxwell and Adelaide, Kelly, to relocate selling all of their belongings and leaving their jobs behind.
“I owe Kelly more than anything,” said Renda. “She believed in me.”
Over the next decade, Andy thrived as the Director of Sales for Vintner’s Collective in downtown Napa. His years of experience, refined palate and knowledge of the wine enabled him to provide a world-class experience.
During his tenure, Andy’s passion for selling prodigious wines merged with his desire to make them. Collaborating with Jarred Pearce, AJ Pearce was launched in2007 focusing on Cabernet Sauvignon and Syrah.Then in 2012, Andy introduced Solamente, a Pinot Noir project further cementing his legacy in the Napa Valley. “I am crazy passionate about wines. I feel it is important to make wines that you believe in at the highest level,” said Renda.
THE WINE THIEF
The Wine Thief was contrived by the professional careers of both Garrett Ahnfeldt and Andy Renda. Their mutual respect for one another and innate brotherhood enabled them to create a platform where off the beaten path, world-class, artisanal wines could be savored.
The stunning 2650 square-foot tasting collective was built by Partner and Master Woodworker,Todd Richter. The custom built venue boasts floor to ceiling windows, contemporary design, a small commercial kitchen and a versatile tasting space suited for every occasion. Whether guests prefer a relaxed and casual environment or a more intimate setting, The Wine Thief can personalize every experience and event.
“We are very passionate about wines. We are not here to sell a flight, we are here to build relationships,” said Ahnfeldt. “We want to help people with their lifetime development with wine and be there to facilitate their needs of course. However, there is a friendship that is built in the midst of all that. That’s what is special about wine. It is the universal liquid that brings people of many cultures and personalities together.”+
Jointly, Garrett and Andy meticulously curated a list of handcrafted, small production wines for guests to appreciate. Representing AJ Pearce Wines, Brace and Bit, Buoncristiani Family Winery, Correlation Wine Co., Delgadillo Cellars, Kale Wines, Le Pich, Purlieu, Solamente and Stache, The Wine Thief provides vintners with an opportunity to share their wines, stories and passion, taking guests on an unforgettable journey.
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708 First Street, Napa
Article By: Valerie Owen