Jim Regusci Podcast 54 MINUTES

A new podcast series from Doug Shafer about the people behind the food and wine you love.

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Doug Shafer and Jim Regusci

The Regusci family has lived in Napa Valley 120 years. Jim Regusci grew up on the historic property, which today is the home of Regusci Winery. Besides running the family winery, Jim owns a vineyard management company and is a partner in T-Vine and Tank Garage Winery. He and Doug also talk about how they met over a bottle of Wild Turkey. Enjoy!

For more visit: regusciwinery.com


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FULL TRANSCRIPT

 

Doug: Hey, everybody. Welcome back. Another episode of The Taste. Doug Shafer here. Uh, we have a special guest today who I've dragged in from the fields. Um, good friend of mine, uh, it's Jim Regusci from, uh, Regusci Winery and basically Napa Valley his whole life. Welcome, Jim.

Jim Regusci:
Thank you, Doug.

Doug:
Um-

Jim Regusci:
I appreciate being here.

Doug:
Before we get into it, um, I always like to tell stories about how I met people.

Jim Regusci:
(laughs)

Doug:
And you can tell the story too, but I'm gonna tell the story because this story defines the type of man Jim Regusci is.

Jim Regusci:
And I think I know which one you're gonna tell.

Doug:
Yeah. Well, it's- it's the one we first met.

Jim Regusci:
Yeah.

Doug:
So it's, uh ... I'll- I'll try to make this quick because it was a- it was a great- great event, moment in my life. Um, I was at a real low point. I was, uh, in the middle of a divorce. I had moved out. I had moved down the street from the main house. I was living in this small, little house, uh, rental and I had been there, I don't know, three or four weeks. And, you know, you come home and didn't have the kids that week, so it's a lonely house and I was, you know, making some dinner, having a glass of wine, and there was a knock on the door.

Doug:
I go to the door and open the door, and there's this guy standing there, and he says, "Hi. I'm Jim Regusci." I said, "I know- I know about you." He goes, "Yeah." Um, and in your hand was a bottle of Wild Turkey.

Jim Regusci:
Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Doug:
And I said, "Hey." You go, "Hey, you're Shafer, right?" I said, "Yeah." He goes, "You mind if I come in?" I said, "Sure. Come on in," and I think we drank the whole bottle of Wild Turkey. (laughs)

Jim Regusci:
Yeah.

Doug:
But you were a sweetheart. You knew I was kinda not going through a great period in my life, and, uh, reached out and became a really good friend, and I thank you for that.

Jim Regusci:
Oh. You know, Doug, it's kinda funny how you meet people.

Doug:
Yeah.

Jim Regusci:
You know what I mean? And it's one of those things, but where our ranches are located, you're close to each other-

Doug:
Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Jim Regusci:
... but there's an age difference, so you don't know-

Doug:
Yeah.

Jim Regusci:
Even when you're growing up. And then as time goes on, that age difference kind of goes away.

Doug:
Right.

Jim Regusci:
And then you just happened to be ... It was just right timing.

Doug:
Yeah.

Jim Regusci:
Yeah.

Doug:
Well, it was sweet. You were a sweetheart.

Doug:
So anyway, Jim, tell me about you and your family. You- you've been here all your life, uh, but I think it started with your grandad.

Jim Regusci:
Yeah. Yes, it did.

Doug:
And tell me about that.

Jim Regusci:
My grandfather ... Um, we're Swiss-Italians, so we-

Doug:
Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Jim Regusci:
... come from a little village between Bella Tola and Lucarno up in the mountains. Um, we actually ... We're Swiss-Italian. We speak the dialect-

Doug:
Huh.

Jim Regusci:
... Swiss and Italian mixed, and my grandfather, he was 13 years old, came across by himsel- or came with his two brothers. They landed in-

Doug:
At age 13 with his two brothers?

Jim Regusci:
To America. They went through the Ellis Island and all that, and then he actually decided to come on to California by himself. We had, um-

Doug:
What about, what time was that?

Jim Regusci:
Well, from what we know, 1896 was when he arrived here.

Doug:
He's, that's 1896, at age 13.

Jim Regusci:
Yeah. 1896. Yeah.

Doug:
That's amazing.

Jim Regusci:
Yeah.

Doug:
Wow.

Jim Regusci:
I mean, when my kids were 13 they couldn't tie their shoes.

Doug:
Right.

Jim Regusci:
You know, and this guy came all the way across. I mean, all kids. Tell me a 13-year-old that you could put out in the world and-

Doug:
Right.

Jim Regusci:
... go. And, um, as he came ... ended up here, um, the the Gizletta family's an old-time family.

Doug:
Yeah.

Jim Regusci:
And, um, what's funny about the village, when the ... We went back to the village where we're from. We went to the cemetery, and the only names in the cemetery are Gizletta, [Gijetta 00:05:32], and Regusci.

Doug:
Huh.

Jim Regusci:
And then the next cemetery is Pestoni, where they're at. And they're in the same ... We're- we're all in the same little village and we all ended up here. I mean-

Doug:
That's amazing.

Jim Regusci:
Yeah, Margaret, Bob's wife, was, um ... She's from our village, so it's kinda funny how all those old Italians, we had a shirttail relative or something that he had a beacon to come to, and then he went to, um ... came to work at 13 right across the road from our- from our home ranch.

Doug:
And so the- the home ranch ... Regusci's home ranch is just south of Shafer, right in the heart of Stags Leap District, and then they're on the, um, east side of the Silverado Trail.

Jim Regusci:
Correct.

Doug:
Up against the hills.

Jim Regusci:
Right.

Doug:
And so he-

Jim Regusci:
Yeah.

Doug:
But he started across the Silverado Trail.

Jim Regusci:
Well, he started where Mondavi Ranch is now.

Doug:
Where Mondavi Ranch is now?

Jim Regusci:
Yeah.

Doug:
Right. Got it.

Jim Regusci:
And, um, we've got kind of a unique ... I don't even know if you know this. I'll tell you the story how we ended up with those ranches on the other side of the road. And he started there, and then he loved the fact, um ... He worked for a dairy.

Doug:
Okay.

Jim Regusci:
That's how he got there. So he ended up working for dairy all those years, and then as time went on he knew the gentleman who owned our home ranch where we are now. And, um, he was friends with him. He- he watched him grow up, a young man grow up.

Doug:
Right.

Jim Regusci:
He ended up ... You know where Clos Du Val is?

Doug:
Yeah.

Jim Regusci:
The winery.

Doug:
Just south.

Jim Regusci:
Right across the road, there's a red hay barn there.

Doug:
It's still there.

Jim Regusci:
Yeah.

Doug:
Right on the road.

Jim Regusci:
My- my grandfather built that.

Doug:
Are you kidding me?

Jim Regusci:
No.

Doug:
I didn't know that. I've been driving by that for 45 years.

Jim Regusci:
(laughs) Yeah. There were ... We've got the old photos. There were three old houses there.

Doug:
Your grandad built that?

Jim Regusci:
Yeah. There was another big barn there also, and then he built that and then he leased that ranch, built the dair- the dairy in- in that, um, property on that piece of property. There were another, um, old feed barn there and three houses.

Doug:
Right.

Jim Regusci:
And then that's where my dad and my aunt were born, on that ranch.

Doug:
Okay.

Jim Regusci:
And then all my first cousins, who are the Gizletta's, they-

Doug:
So is Joe Gizletta your cousin?

Jim Regusci:
Yeah, he's my second cousin.

Doug:
Second cousin. Far- Sorry, folks. Joe Gizletta was, uh ... Joe Gizletta-

Jim Regusci:
Yeah.

Doug:
... is a local real estate agent here in Napa. He's retired, but, uh-

Jim Regusci:
Yeah.

Doug:
... he's the one that's, uh, helped me do the deal on Red Shoulder Ranch-

Jim Regusci:
Yeah.

Doug:
... back in 1988 in Carneros.

Jim Regusci:
Yeah. Yeah.

Doug:
Okay.

Jim Regusci:
He was how our family ... That's who we ... um, my grandfather ended up coming towards was one of the Gizlettas that was in the dairy business here, as far back as we know.

Doug:
I'm so glad you're here. To think, you know, we've been getting together, I've never known these stories.

Jim Regusci:
Yeah.

Doug:
The red barn.

Jim Regusci:
Yeah.

Doug:
So your grandad, his name was Gaetano.

Jim Regusci:
Gaetano, yes.

Doug:
Gaetano.

Jim Regusci:
So then he purchased our home ranch in 1932.

Doug:
Right.

Jim Regusci:
And we were always dairy people to start with, so as time rolled on, um, we- we were that kind of family that today would be chic. Know your farmer, know your grower, know where your food comes from.

Doug:
Right.

Jim Regusci:
At that time, the milk business started to consolidate and, um, he had direct to consumer, so he got ... had 11 milk trucks and started delivering milk and butter, and that's how they ended up surviving. And then our era kind of changes on our home ran- on our home ranch there with him because the winery has the Grigsby era, which was built in the 1800s. 1878 the winery was built.

Doug:
So that- that winery ... So that's the old stone building that's been there since the-

Jim Regusci:
Yeah.

Doug:
... 1870s?

Jim Regusci:
Eight ... Yeah.

Doug:
And then when your dad ... your granddad bought that place that was part of it?

Jim Regusci:
The winery was there.

Doug:
Was there. It was there.

Jim Regusci:
He bought it in 1932. The winery was there and it was abandoned.

Doug:
Abandoned? Okay.

Jim Regusci:
And then, um, the winery was there, my aunt's house in the back where she lives, that was also there. Um, that was original house built in 1870, and then the house that I live in is the house my dad grew up in, and that was the original house with the ranch.

Doug:
Wow.

Jim Regusci:
It was a little cabin to start with, so in the 1800s there were 400 wineries in the valley, you know, and no one realizes that.

Doug:
That's right. No one knows that.

Jim Regusci:
Yeah, no one knows there were that many wineries, and so then as ... Um, we're fortunate that winery my grandfather used it just to store grain in and that type of stuff.

Doug:
So it's Prohibition.

Jim Regusci:
Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Doug:
He's just a farmer. He's in the dairy business.

Jim Regusci:
Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Doug:
He's not even thinking about wine.

Jim Regusci:
Well, it was about 15 acres of Zinfandel on that ranch.

Doug:
Right.

Jim Regusci:
So that's the only thing. They made homemade wine and they'd sell it to the old Italians.

Doug:
Right.

Jim Regusci:
I'll come back to the Zinfandel later 'cause you'll like the story my dad tells me. And then so as time ... They decided dairy business was going down, so they were in beef cattle.

Doug:
Okay.

Jim Regusci:
So then opened a slaughterhouse and a meat market, and across from Clos Du Val, at that ranch was a ... You could buy your milk direct from across the counter and there was a meat market there. And then-

Doug:
Right there? Okay.

Jim Regusci:
Yeah, so they ... We were all livestock. We were dairy, livestock, and that, and then I'm a product of timing because I'm 51. I was born in 1967.

Doug:
Right.

Jim Regusci:
My brothers and sisters or my closest sibling is 61 and my cousins are all older, so when the wine business-

Doug:
So you were the- you were the baby?

Jim Regusci:
I was the baby.

Doug:
They were all ... By the time you showed up in high school and whatnot they're long gone.

Jim Regusci:
Oh, yeah. Everybody wanted out because we were just a bunch of poor farmers.

Doug:
Got it.

Jim Regusci:
You know? That's what it was. I mean, it ... Everything was different then 'cause I can still remember the town of Yountville being a dump. You know?

Doug:
Well, I can ... When we moved out in '73 ...

Jim Regusci:
Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Doug:
I did the math already, so I was 17. You were six.

Jim Regusci:
Yup.

Doug:
You're a young man. I'm- I'm mature.

Jim Regusci:
(laughs)

Doug:
And, um, yeah, Yountville was a dump. Now it's like the hotel and chi-chi restaurants, but it was a couple bars, [inaudible 00:10:46]-

Jim Regusci:
It was-

Doug:
Phillips filling stations, and, uh ...

Jim Regusci:
Yeah, the old days, it ... My ... I can ... There was 33 bar- There were, what? 33 bars and three brothels in that town, and the only reason-

Doug:
And- and the bars were for the vets-

Jim Regusci:
Veterans' home.

Doug:
... at the veterans' home.

Jim Regusci:
Yeah. It was kinda ... That town has its own unique story.

Doug:
Yeah.

Jim Regusci:
Because you can't have a liquor license within a mile and a half of a, um, st- veterans' hospital.

Doug:
Oh, I didn't know that.

Jim Regusci:
That's the distance we have because that was a big deal when Domain went in and was able to build right next to 'em.

Doug:
Because ... Yeah.

Jim Regusci:
Of that licensing.

Doug:
I didn't know ... Never knew about that regulation.

Jim Regusci:
And then with all those liquor licenses who would've ever thought ... That's why all the restaurants have liquor licenses.

Doug:
Yeah.

Jim Regusci:
They were bars before.

Doug:
(laughs)

Jim Regusci:
You know, who would've thought Yountville turned in ... When I graduated sixth grade there, there were what? Thir- thirteen of us. It was that small of a town.

Doug:
So you were going ... So were you ... My ... David Ilsley, who works with me and grew up here-

Jim Regusci:
Yeah.

Doug:
... on State Lane.

Jim Regusci:
David's a year-

Doug:
But he's older -

Jim Regusci:
No, David's behind me. Ernie's above me.

Doug:
Okay, so you're right in the middle of the Ilsley boys.

Jim Regusci:
I'm right in the middle of the Ilsley boys.

Doug:
So he-

Jim Regusci:
Yeah.

Doug:
... tells stories about you guys as kids, you know, riding your bikes all around here at Crossroad and Yountville, and-

Jim Regusci:
Oh, yeah. You could ride here to Yountville-

Doug:
And getting in trouble.

Jim Regusci:
... to Rutherford, to Saint Helena. No one ever said a word.

Doug:
Yeah.

Jim Regusci:
Yeah.

Jim Regusci:
Yeah, it's a completely different world.

Doug:
Oh, I remember moving out here was something else. But how funny because ... So there's 400 wineries before Prohibition. Prohibition hits. All the sudden the wineries are gone. When we moved out here in '73 and you were six years old there was only like 20 wineries-

Jim Regusci:
Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Doug:
... in the valley.

Jim Regusci:
Yeah.

Doug:
And that ... Now it's exploded again.

Jim Regusci:
Yeah. It's pretty amazing how-

Doug:
Huh.

Jim Regusci:
You know, what it's come to. I kind of, um, I sit back and I just ... I look at it and I think, "We just ... I just sat long enough and the industry built around us."

Doug:
Yeah.

Jim Regusci:
You know, is what ended up happening. I mean, who would've ever thought-

Doug:
Well, you ... And so you lived it. So your dad ... So your- your grandad came out here. He bought the old ... the place you guys are at now, so your dad was born. Your dad's Angelo.

Jim Regusci:
My dad's Angelo, yeah, so my-

Doug:
So he grew up here?

Jim Regusci:
M- my dad grew up here. Um, my dad and my aunt.

Doug:
Okay.

Jim Regusci:
There's two of 'em. My aunt I- Isabelle and my dad, Angelo. And they grew up here and, um, talk ... I mean he went to ... My dad and my aunt went to school in the red schoolhouse. Rothwell's right up the road here, that's where they went to school.

Doug:
The red schoolhouse just-

Jim Regusci:
At the end of the-

Doug:
Yeah.

Jim Regusci:
End of your property up here.

Doug:
Right, just north of us.

Jim Regusci:
Yeah. He used to ride a horse to school. I mean, could you imagine? (laughs)

Doug:
(laughs) No, I can't.

Jim Regusci:
Yeah.

Doug:
That's pretty cool.

Jim Regusci:
Yeah, so, uh, my- my grandfather was always beef cattle and dairy and that.

Doug:
Yeah.

Jim Regusci:
And then as, um, time rolled on he con- my dad converted ... My grandfather passed away. My dad took over the ranch. Um, he's scraped a living out of between h- the dairy, with hogs, with the slaughterhouse, and everything.

Doug:
So he contin- he continued what your- your granddad was doing?

Jim Regusci:
Continued what my granddad was doing and all of the sudden, um, grapes started to come in, and that's when Bob Mondavi started building Oakville Plant.

Doug:
Which was in the ...

Jim Regusci:
'70 or '72.

Doug:
... late '60s maybe or '72. No, it was '72 he opened up.

Jim Regusci:
'72.

Doug:
Yeah.

Jim Regusci:
Yeah. And then, um, Mondavi's moved in across the road from us. Mike- Mike moved in first on the knoll over there.

Doug:
Right.

Jim Regusci:
Do you remember Charlie Williams?

Doug:
Yes.

Jim Regusci:
Yeah.

Doug:
Yes.

Jim Regusci:
Charlie did all the development for Mondavi from every- every vine that went in the ground, and so I grew up with Charlie's kids and that, so that house that I used to go to as a child, uh, with the house that I grew up in, it was ready ... This is a hard one to follow. It was the same house my mother grew up in.

Doug:
Wow.

Jim Regusci:
Because she ... Well, from 16 on, on my mother's side my grandfather was a herdsman, dairy herdsman and my grandmother was a cook, so that's how my dad ended up marrying the girl next door.

Doug:
(laughs)

Jim Regusci:
You know, liter-

Doug:
Literally.

Jim Regusci:
Literally. Yeah.

Doug:
Wow.

Jim Regusci:
So, um, time kinda rolls on for our family. My dad was able to ... There's three things fortunate. Your family's part of it. Um, my dad was ... Or my grandfather, unbeknownst to him, bought the right location.

Doug:
Right.

Jim Regusci:
Uh, we say this. Then my dad was able to hold onto it through the hard times.

Doug:
Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Jim Regusci:
And then our neighborhood did well.

Doug:
Yeah.

Jim Regusci:
You know, that's pretty much ... When I say a product of timing, I caught the upswing of grapes, and then, um, my dad converted to grapes, and everyone ... Y- You kind of look now when we look at the Cabernets and the powerhouse and the things out of Stags Leap.

Doug:
Yeah.

Jim Regusci:
I can ... We- we had pinot and Chardonnay planted.

Doug:
Well-

Jim Regusci:
Do you know- know Al, um ... Um, who had Ingle Nook? Who bought IngleNook in the day?

Jim Regusci:
Hueblein and Ally. Hueblein.

Doug:
Yeah, Hueblein. Right, right, right.

Jim Regusci:
When they came in they were looking for contracts and being farmers, all the farmers chased whatever crop that was paying. No one took into account microclimates, areas, and things like that.

Doug:
No, we didn't do that. Well, when we moved here in '73, this ranch was old. You know, 60 or ... Dad replanted it, but, you know, he planted 10 acres of Chardonnay-

Jim Regusci:
Yeah.

Doug:
... 'cause he wanted to have white wine.

Jim Regusci:
That's it.

Doug:
But no one knew about, you know, Stags Leap District Cabs and this region's great for Cabernet. We were just all ... Now, but I'm kinda curious because grape prices were ... When we came out in '73 they weren't that great. I mean, four or five hundred bucks a ton for Cab or Zin, that type of thing.

Jim Regusci:
Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Doug:
So your dad, when did he start-

Jim Regusci:
Well-

Doug:
... g- getting into grapes?

Jim Regusci:
Well, see, my ... Well, 19 ... In the ... 1970 is when my dad turned to grapes.

Doug:
Okay.

Jim Regusci:
Okay? But what my dad did was he ... The ranch across the road he leased to Robert Mondavi.

Doug:
Okay.

Jim Regusci:
Okay? And then where Clos Du Val is, he sold them that piece where they're at to build a winery and then Bernard Porter was looking for ground to plant vineyards and build a winery, and that's when we leased 120 acres out to Clos Du Val on the front of our ranch.

Doug:
Okay.

Jim Regusci:
So we leased to Mondavi across the street and the Clos Du Val on the home ranch. My dad kept about 30 acres for himself so my uncle and he had something to do, and, um, pulled all the prune trees out and that.

Doug:
Yeah.

Jim Regusci:
And we had Zin- the old Zinfandel that was always there, and then as time went on we- we were still farming cattle, running cattle.

Doug:
I was gonna ask you. Yeah.

Jim Regusci:
Yeah, we had a couple thousand acres over in the Solano area still doing cattle. All the way up until I was 22 or so.

Doug:
Yeah.

Jim Regusci:
We always had both components to it.

Doug:
So you're growing up. He's switching over to grapes. You're in, uh, what? You're in high school. You're go ... Where'd you go to high school? Napa?

Jim Regusci:
Yeah, I went-

Doug:
Yeah.

Jim Regusci:
I was very fortunate because I went to Yountville Elementary.

Doug:
Okay.

Jim Regusci:
Then I, uh, changed ... I ... In those days you could go either direction. I went north to Saint Helena.

Doug:
Oh, you did?
Jim Regusci: Right. So what's funny is I went to RLS in Saint Helena.

Doug:
Okay.
Jim Regusci: So I ended up meeting all grown ... You know, knowing everybody. Then there was a lot of farm and winery families then-

Doug:
Yeah.
Jim Regusci: ... in those days, so you got to know everybody then. And, you know ... You ever meet people that you were in school with a little bit? You don't remember but it's always you were still there?

Doug:
Right.
Jim Regusci: So then I went to Vintage High School and graduated.

Doug:
Oh, neat.
Jim Regusci: Yeah, so-

Doug:
So you got both ends of the valley basically?
Jim Regusci: Yeah, I kinda ... Well, middle, growing up here, north and south, so it was ... My dad's old saying when were, um ... Because we've been here so long, when we were old enough to date if, um, these ... if these g- if these girls had been here more than three generations their last name ends in a vowel, don't date 'em. We're probably related.

Doug:
Oh, no, no, no, no.
Jim Regusci: And ... No, it's pretty funny when you start thinking about the old Napa. I mean, everybody is kinda ... They're all old Europeans and-

Doug:
Yeah.
Jim Regusci: You know?

Doug:
Well, you- you nailed it right in the beginning. You're the village, you know, your grandfather came from.
Jim Regusci: Yeah. Yeah.

Doug:
You nailed it right in the beginning. You're the village, you know, your grandfather came from.
Jim Regusci: Yeah. Yeah.

Doug:
Gustoni, Pizzolato-
Jim Regusci: Yeah

Doug:
Lugosi.
Jim Regusci: Yeah. Kind of funny.

Doug:
That's, in the old days, that's, you know, half the town of Yountville.
Jim Regusci: Yeah (laughs) that's it.

Doug:
Yeah that's right. Can't get a date.
Jim Regusci: Yeah.

Doug:
So, um, but so, your siblings, how many siblings you have?
Jim Regusci: I have, um, one older brother.

Doug:
Okay.
Jim Regusci: And then two older sisters.

Doug:
And, I've, I don't think I've ever met them. Are they in the area, or are they?
Jim Regusci: No, um, all my, one sister's still in the area. She lives in Napa.

Doug:
Okay.
Jim Regusci: Her and her husband and two kids. They're older now, of course, kids are grown. My brother lives in the Sierra foothills. My other sister lives in Sacramento.

Doug:
Got it. But, so, you're the only one up, back on the, the family ranch?
Jim Regusci: Yeah.

Doug:
Yeah.
Jim Regusci: Yeah, so, I so, right out of high school I started the farming company, so that's when I made business.

Doug:
Yeah, I was gonna ask you about that. So, you're 18 years old, and you start a vineyard management company.
Jim Regusci: Well, I was, I got married at 19.

Doug:
Okay.
Jim Regusci: Okay? And I got married at 19, and um, I went to work, at that time, my father-in-law, Frank Emmolo.

Doug:
Okay.
Jim Regusci: So, he taught me the nursery business.

Doug:
Right.
Jim Regusci: And um, I didn't, I started, and then I started, I had a farming company I started managing Rustridge Winery was my first winery, up in-

Doug:
Rustridge was over in-
Jim Regusci: Um, Chiles Valley.

Doug:
Okay.
Jim Regusci: And I had no clue what the hell I was doing. I grad-

Doug:
But you, but w, wait a minute, but weren't you helping your Dad farm the grapes at home, and through high school a little bit, but?
Jim Regusci: Oh, Nathan Fay paid me to bring a dozer over one day. I was about 16, 17, and he, 15, 16. I was doing some work on a dozer. Nathan came over and brought, told me to go over and push some trees down for him.

Doug:
(laughs)
Jim Regusci: So I pushed some trees, and he gave me $100.00, and I'll never forget it. That was the first time I had ever been paid to work.

Doug:
Yeah.
Jim Regusci: You know, and then when high school started, I kind of looked, I got out of high school, I looked around. I didn't want to go into college.

Doug:
Right.
Jim Regusci: It was, you know, there was a bunch of work, and I watched guys I knew, doing this, and it didn't look that difficult.

Doug:
Right.
Jim Regusci: You know? So, I mean, it was just farming, and it wasn't to the level we're farming today. You know?

Doug:
Right. Right.
Jim Regusci: We knew nothing of root stalks orientations, or anything.

Doug:
It's just, Yeah.
Jim Regusci: So, the Emolo side of the nursery business was really, you know, fortunate, because at that time is when even the European root stalks were coming on.

Doug:
Right.
Jim Regusci: Prior to that, that's all we had were AXR and 110R.

Doug:
That's it, and Saint George.
Jim Regusci: Yeah, and then.

Doug:
Yeah.
Jim Regusci: And then, remember when phylloxera rated our valley?

Doug:
Yeah. (laughs)
Jim Regusci: Yeah. It was a costly fix, but I would say, it was a wine quality improvement.

Doug:
Oh, big time.
Jim Regusci: There's no question.

Doug:
Big time.
Jim Regusci: You know? And then, as time went on, as we got better with it, we figured out these roots. I even had roots that had the wrong root stalks, in the wrong area, and everything else, but as time goes on, we're to that point, where wine quality's gonna improve again.

Doug:
Yeah.
Jim Regusci: Now, we're dealing with orientation, you know? Row orientation.

Doug:
Right.
Jim Regusci: All these components, that we didn't have, we didn't have um, the sense to look at.

Doug:
Oh, I know. It's, it's been great. What's been going on in the vineyard so-
Jim Regusci: We've gotten way, we've been, we've been able to balance ourselves with nature pretty well.

Doug:
Yeah.
Jim Regusci: Yeah.

Doug:
So, you take this, you start as a vineyard management company with, I did some research on you.
Jim Regusci: Oh.

Doug:
You start with nine acres.
Jim Regusci: Corner of Finnell Road.

Doug:
And now you've got over 2,000 acres, that you manage.
Jim Regusci: Yeah.

Doug:
Is that true?
Jim Regusci: Yeah, a little over 2,000 we manage. 2,800.

Doug:
That's a major company. Are you, is it all Napa Valley?
Jim Regusci: Uh, of that, I think I farm about 500 acres of it in Solano. The rest is here.

Doug:
Wow.
Jim Regusci: Yeah.

Doug:
So, that's a, that's a, so that's a major, serious, full-time business.
Jim Regusci: It, I don't know. It just kind of evolved.

Doug:
(laugh) you're so modest. I can't believe it.
Jim Regusci: (laughs) Well, what's funny though is, Jason Lawrenson runs my farming company.

Doug:
Yeah.
Jim Regusci: And um, he comes-

Doug:
Great guy.
Jim Regusci: Good, great guy, and Jason comes from like, the old Bolani trucking family.

Doug:
Okay.
Jim Regusci: They were, they, I mean, you go into center-

Doug:
I know those guys.
Jim Regusci: You go to Setter Home, and look on the wall, there's a famous photo they have of the winery, when it just started.

Doug:
Mm-hmm (affirmative).
Jim Regusci: And outside of it, it's got this giant, um, 10 teams of horses, loading on a wagon. It says, " Bolani, Bolani."

Doug:
Oh.
Jim Regusci: So, that's how long they've been here. So, I've kind of surrounded myself with really good, local guys that helped me build this business.

Doug:
Mm-hmm (affirmative).
Jim Regusci: I have the same, the same three guys I hired that have been with me 32 years now, and then when we go to that 25 year range, there's probably 30-40 guys, 20 year, there's probably 50 or 60. I mean, everybody's been around, we've been on, we built a, I'm just amazed what we built, with these guys.

Doug:
Congratulations, Jim.
Jim Regusci: Oh, thank you.

Doug:
That's really, really cool.
Jim Regusci: Thank you.

Doug:
So, so, that's what begs my next question. So, you've got a full-time gig. You've got a busy thing going on.
Jim Regusci: Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Doug:
You start a winery in 1996.
Jim Regusci: Yeah, then I-

Doug:
What, what were you thinking? (laughs)
Jim Regusci: Well, Chuck Wagner. He and I were brother-in-laws.

Doug:
Right, right.
Jim Regusci: Chuck, um, always gave me a bad time, not a bad time, but always kind of kicked me around, going, "Hey, why don't you get in the wine business?"

Doug:
Right.
Jim Regusci: "You have everything there." So, in those days, I decide to go in the wine business, and knew nothing about making wine.

Doug:
Right.
Jim Regusci: Right, or not, knew nothing about selling wine. Um, I went to the county, did my use permit. I did it myself, and um, do you remember Tom Jordan?

Doug:
Yes.
Jim Regusci: Alright. Tom Jordan, I was, I sat in his kitchen and said, "How do I fill this out? 'Cause I have no clue."

Doug:
Right.
Jim Regusci: We filled out the paperwork. I went before the planning commission. Did my paperwork. In, out, done.

Doug:
Boom.
Jim Regusci: And, walked out. I recently went back for a modification, and I told them, I told them this. I did a major mod redone. It cost me $243,000, 18 months, and 13 consultants.

Doug:
Mm-hmm (affirmative).
Jim Regusci: To something I did 20 something years ago, by myself.

Doug:
Right. It's-
Jim Regusci: So, the world is changed-

Doug:
It's changed.
Jim Regusci: In what we do. Yeah.

Doug:
And ah, the winery's been up and running since '96. You make what? Six, seven thousand cases of wine? Is that about right?
Jim Regusci: Well, Regusci, which ended up, I'll back up a little bit. I knew how to make wine. I knew how, my Dad was funny, as I budgeted, uh, I did all my budgets on making wine, of what I needed.

Doug:
Right.
Jim Regusci: I bought all the equipment. Got everything I needed to do, um, tanks, equipment, barrels, you know, pumps, and I kind of robbed every bone yard I could find, from Beringers, and everybody else I'd buy all new. My first crusher, was on one that my Dad used for home winemaking.

Doug:
Right.
Jim Regusci: And it was funny, because I looked at my Dad, and we're getting for, getting closer to harvesting and I go, "Hey, I need you to make wine, I need you to make wine for me." He goes, "What do you mean? 'cause you're not good at winemaker?" I go, "I can't afford a winemaker. I mean, I need you to make wine for me this year. I'll hire a winemaker after I get the crop in."

Doug:
So, Angelo was your first winemaker?
Jim Regusci: Yeah, and then Charles Hendricks.

Doug:
Oh, I remember Charles, yeah.
Jim Regusci: Charles was Dick's, excuse me, Dick Selzner's winemaker.

Doug:
Mm-hmm (affirmative).
Jim Regusci: And he came over, and he, he, I had a bunch of wine, everybody wanted to help. I had every, every winemaker, every guy we knew, coming in telling me different things.

Doug:
Mm-hmm (affirmative).
Jim Regusci: So, my Dad made the first wines. He got them down to zero, got them in a barrel, and it was funny. My Dad looks at me and goes, "Hey, you better get a winemaker. I can't screw this up."

Doug:
Right. (laughs)
Jim Regusci: You know. You know ... type thing. So, Charles ended up coming on board with us, and he was making wine for us.

Doug:
Right.
Jim Regusci: But, as I opened the winery up, I didn't know, I didn't know anything about sales.

Doug:
Right.
Jim Regusci: So, Silver Oak was releasing and the lady, um, came down and she goes, "Wow. These wines ... " She bought two cases. We just opened the taste room. She bought two cases from me, and I was $24.00 a bottle.

Doug:
Right.
Jim Regusci: I checked your prices, everyone in the neighborhood, and I went right in the middle.

Doug:
Yeah.
Jim Regusci: And I was $24.00 a bottle, and um, I'll never forget, she came in and bought a few cases, and I'm like, "what? I'm too cheap."

Doug:
(laughs)
Jim Regusci: So, I went, took the, we have these little flyers, I went in and I did a bunch of market research. I went in and I looked at, on this secretary's working for me. I go, "Hey, can you change these for me? I want to raise the price." And she's like, "Sure." I go, she goes, "what do you want to go to?" I go, "Invert the numbers."

Doug:
(laughs)
Jim Regusci: So, I went from 24 to 42.

Doug:
Just like that.
Jim Regusci: Just like that, and the wine started selling. It continued to sell, and I'm like, "This is pretty easy."

Doug:
Right.
Jim Regusci: But, I didn't know to watch my inventory and watch all of those things that creep up.

Doug:
And this was the mid, this was the mid 90's, when things were rockin'.
Jim Regusci: Yeah.

Doug:
Yeah. Yeah.
Jim Regusci: I didn't know to watch all these things behind.

Doug:
Right.
Jim Regusci: And then all of a sudden, I started getting an inventory built of wine, and I fig, I realized I needed to figure out how to sell wine.

Doug:
Right.
Jim Regusci: A Canadian gentleman moved in, who uh, later built James Cole winery.

Doug:
Okay.
Jim Regusci: James Harder.

Doug:
Okay.
Jim Regusci: He was a VP of Marketing out of Wilson Daniels, and he had jumped out on his own. He had a little office at my place. We became really good friends. So, we uh, talked about it and I, one day I went and, I had uh, 20 ton of juice from Solano County.

Doug:
Right.
Jim Regusci: And I go, "James," I go, "How about I put the juice up, and you put the label and packaging, and um, we'll make our own wines?" So, James, literally, he and his wife put it on his credit card, their glass packaging.

Doug:
(laughs)
Jim Regusci: We started, so we built that one to about 100,000 cases, and-

Doug:
And now what-
Jim Regusci: Twenty Bench, it was called.

Doug:
What was it called?
Jim Regusci: Twenty Bench

Doug:
Twenty Bench.
Jim Regusci: Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Doug:
Okay.
Jim Regusci: We sold, we sold out a few years, years, we were in that, we were in that category for 11 year, 11 vintages, at under $20.00 a bottle, Napa cab.

Doug:
Got it.
Jim Regusci: And because of all the vineyards I came in contact with, we had a lot of juice, and we could, you know-

Doug:
Right.
Jim Regusci: Really fill-

Doug:
From your manage-
Jim Regusci: Fill that pipeline.

Doug:
From your management company contacts.
Jim Regusci: From the management side.

Doug:
I never knew about this. Okay.
Jim Regusci: And James was a really good marketer and all this. So, we took that, and he, we built those brands, and then, the, the um, bulk market started to dry, because it grew to the point, I couldn't supply out of what we were producing.

Doug:
This was back with those big years, bulk market, there's a lot of grapes.
Jim Regusci: Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Doug:
A lot of bulk juice.
Jim Regusci: A lot of bulk juice.

Doug:
A lot of bulk juice that you get it inexpensively, so you could have a twenty dollar Napa Valley cab.
Jim Regusci: Correct.

Doug:
Interesting. So-
Jim Regusci: Yup.

Doug:
You rode that pony-
Jim Regusci: We rode that pony.

Doug:
Through, how many years?
Jim Regusci: Oh, we rode it for 11 vintages.

Doug:
11 vintages, and you're doing 100,000 cases?
Jim Regusci: Yeah, we-

Doug:
I never knew about this, Jim.
Jim Regusci: Mm-hmm (affirmative), yeah. We were about 85,000, then we jumped to 100, and then the bulk market started tightening up for us.

Doug:
Bulk market tightens up. There's not enough. Price is too high. You can't have that. Got it. Makes sense.
Jim Regusci: Well then, all of a sudden, the price, there's a glut of wines out there, remember? We run through the glut.

Doug:
Right.
Jim Regusci: Well, no-one was in my category for eight or nine years, ten years, and then, all of a sudden, all the guys that were in those $40.00 ranges, dropped to just move wines through.

Doug:
So, you have the competition.
Jim Regusci: And we, we weathered that, and we watched, they all kind of, you know, you knew they couldn't sustain.

Doug:
Right.
Jim Regusci: They weren't built for that model. So, um, at time rolled on, James and I decided, we had Rock and Vine, Hullaballoo, and a few different brands in that, and then, Chris Nick, out of Chicago Wine Merchants came to us with money from Backus Capital, and they needed a, um, California portfolio.

Doug:
Right.
Jim Regusci: So, we sold it to 'em. We walked away from the three tier system with that, and then, James and I, James would, James decided we wanted to still keep in there, a brand called, Fortnight.

Doug:
Okay.
Jim Regusci: So, we kept like a $40.00 bottle, but we didn't have the muscle we did before-

Doug:
With the-
Jim Regusci: With, you know, selling um, wines at that cheaper price point-

Doug:
Right.
Jim Regusci: And for distributors. So, we took, we took that, and we built two wineries up valley, called T-Vine, we bought. We bought a brand called, T-Vine.

Doug:
T-Vine up in Calistoga
Jim Regusci: Up in Calistoga, where the old John Deere dealer was.

Doug:
Right.
Jim Regusci: And then James has always had this idea of this California cool wine vibe thing, and we built a winery called, Tank Wine Garage.

Doug:
Which is a converted gas station, right as you come into Calistoga.
Jim Regusci: Yeah.

Doug:
I've been driving by it for years.
Jim Regusci: It's a rocker.

Doug:
What is, what is going on in there?
Jim Regusci: (laughs) Everything.

Doug:
You've got a lubrication's tank room or something? Tell me. It's what?
Jim Regusci: No, we have a speakeasy in the back.

Doug:
Okay.
Jim Regusci: Um, it has a speakeasy component. We have a gentleman named, Ed Fugit, who runs all of, all of, all of our tasting rooms in that, and between James's thinking, Ed's execution, this thing has just kind of done really, the lots are 200 case lots. Verges Von Seal makes the wines, and in, 200 case lots, never made again. The packaging is never made again, and it just, good wines, and they're very unique.

Doug:
Well, and the names are, Liquid Light Show.
Jim Regusci: Yes.

Doug:
(laughs) I love this one. Drive Like You Stole It. I really like that one a lot.
Jim Regusci: (laughs)

Doug:
Um, Love Removal Machine, and the newest one, Post Disco. I'm sure there's new ones since.
Jim Regusci: Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Doug:
And so, these are just blends.
Jim Regusci: They're blends. They're just California Blends, but it's one of those things, where wine sometimes gets too serious.

Doug:
Oh, yes.
Jim Regusci: Of the world, the end we're at.

Doug:
Yes.
Jim Regusci: And these are just good, solid, we call them quaffable wines. You can just drink 'em.

Doug:
Price, price points are-
Jim Regusci: They're in 40 bucks.

Doug:
Yeah.
Jim Regusci: Some are a little higher.

Doug:
Yeah.
Jim Regusci: You get some nice little brands are a little bit higher. Most of them are just, just super nice made wines, and you know, casual good California quality.

Doug:
So, you can stop, and you can taste. You can buy the wines. Can you sell them? Are they, can people buy them online?
Jim Regusci: Yes, you can buy everything. All of our wines we've taken all of Regusci, James Cole, T-Vine, Tank. See, let me clarify. I own Regusci in my family.

Doug:
Right.
Jim Regusci: My wife, kids, we all own Regusci. Okay? James Harder, and his wife Colleen, and their family own, James Cole Winery.

Doug:
Okay.
Jim Regusci: Together, we have T-Vine, Tank, and our Devlin Road is our production facility for those.

Doug:
Okay.
Jim Regusci: So, that's kind of our world, where we live in.

Doug:
So-
Jim Regusci: And then we have the farming side, is Regusci.

Doug:
So, if people were curious about these different wines, is it all on one site, or do they need to go to a diff-
Jim Regusci: No, Tank, Tank is 100, Tank, Tank Wine Garage is built around this California great wines, great vibe and that.

Doug:
Fun stuff, yeah.
Jim Regusci: T-Vine is built around growers. Old time family growers, old time historic vineyards.

Doug:
Right.
Jim Regusci: So, you've kind of got two different, you have a mixed type, um, venue.

Doug:
You've got both, both ends of the, the spectrum.
Jim Regusci: Right. Regusci is 100% old-time estate wines, you know, made out of the heart of Stags Leap. James Cole is Oak Knoll. Excuse me. It's right on the corner of Oak Knoll Avenue and Silverado Trail.

Doug:
Right.
Jim Regusci: So, it could have been Stag's Leap.

Doug:
Yeah.
Jim Regusci: Depending on where they drew the line.

Doug:
Yeah.
Jim Regusci: Great wine quality out of there, and he's a Canadian, so he makes some Canadian ice wines, and things like that, and we've taken the decision that all of our wineries now are direct to consumer. We have zero wine and the three-tier system.

Doug:
So, those of you who might not know, real quickly, the three tier system, traditionally, because, direct to consumer has just come on in the last 10 or 15 years, before it was mostly illegal to do that. So, a winery would sell their wine to a distributor, in lets say, some state like Illinois. You had to sell it to a distributor. The distributor then sells to restaurants, and retail shops. So, the consumer ends up buying it from a retail shop in Illinois, if that's where it's at, or a restaurant, and that's called the three-tier system, and basically as a winery, we, we have to discount, like 50% on that first sale, and it ends up at our suggested price, in, you know, in that store in Illinois, and so, what Jim's saying is, he's walked away from the three-tier system, and is basically going just, we, we call it, DTC, Direct To Consumer, which um, bypasses all that rigmarole.
Jim Regusci: Yeah.

Doug:
And you have established great relationships with consumers, and um, it's, it's, uh, it's something I know you feel strongly about. So, so that's what you guys are doing.
Jim Regusci: Yeah, that's what we're doing. Um, the, the direct to consumer models worked for us.

Doug:
Mm-hmm (affirmative).
Jim Regusci: You've been on the road for a number of years, forever.

Doug:
Ever.
Jim Regusci: And I look at that, and you are the belle of the ball, the week you're in, in, in Indiana-

Doug:
Right.
Jim Regusci: Or wherever you are, and then you leave, and then the next winery comes in, or the next spirits comes in.

Doug:
Exactly.
Jim Regusci: So, I look at the three-tier system, we may see it go away in our generation. Everyone thinks I'm just talking up my hat.

Doug:
Mm, you never know.
Jim Regusci: It'll, I believe it will end up going direct to retailer, or direct to on and off premise, you know, eventually, because the three tier system are just truck drivers.

Doug:
Right.
Jim Regusci: You know, they deliver for you.

Doug:
Yeah, well, you can argue both sides. They, you know, my, my feeling on that is, I've got all these distributors, and all their sales people out there, and yes, they're selling other wines than Shafer.
Jim Regusci: Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Doug:
But, you know, I've got people telling the Shafer story out there at some points.
Jim Regusci: Yeah. Uh, I, You're 100% right in that. If you're like, okay, Caymus, Shafer, these blue chip solid brands, that, when you think of wine, they, they're the first ones that come to the top of your mind. Those wines benefit and work well, in the three tier. When you have smaller producers like, I'm not throwing stones, but like ourselves-

Doug:
Mm-hmm (affirmative).
Jim Regusci: You know, and that's where it's hard to get any traction in that three tier world.

Doug:
What-
Jim Regusci: I have a lot of friends in the three tier world-

Doug:
It's, it's true.
Jim Regusci: You know, that's where, it kind of, it's kind of, rubber hits the road.

Doug:
You're-
Jim Regusci: It's difficult.

Doug:
You're spot on.
Jim Regusci: Yeah.

Doug:
The smaller wineries are, are having a tough time.
Jim Regusci: Yeah.

Doug:
Because the, the, the larger wineries have more clout.
Jim Regusci: Yeah.

Doug:
And with the distributors out there, they get the attention.
Jim Regusci: So, when I talk about the, um, the three tier and that, it's from a, it's from my perspective-

Doug:
Sure.
Jim Regusci: Of a small winery, versus a larger house.

Doug:
Well, we're all, that's what, that's what makes us, it's fun.
Jim Regusci: Yeah.

Doug:
We're all doing our own thing.
Jim Regusci: Yeah, it's kind of interesting how back, say 15 years ago, no one ever visited Napa. You know, no-one came here.

Doug:
Yeah.
Jim Regusci: But now we have the hotels. We have, you know, we have limo services. We have-

Doug:
Restaurants.
Jim Regusci: We have traffic problems. We have housing problems, but fortunately it's an ag commodity that should make enough money, that we can figure out how to work these problems out.

Doug:
Oh, and we are.
Jim Regusci: Yeah, and we're doing a pretty good job of it, so far.

Doug:
We're keeping this place, keeping it green.
Jim Regusci: Yeah.

Doug:
And it's a beautiful place.
Jim Regusci: I mean, just think if the Ag Preserve wasn't in our world.

Doug:
Oh, the Ag preserve to those of you who don't know, is, came down, it was '68, 1968, the county.
Jim Regusci: Yeah, it's 50 years this year.

Doug:
Yeah, it's been 50 years, and it was fairly revolution, very revolutionary at the time, and it basically, we can go on and on with it, but basically you have to, um, you have to have at least 40 acres or 60 acres, to build a house.
Jim Regusci: To be able. Yeah, you cannot split a parcel.

Doug:
You can't split a parcel.
Jim Regusci: Now, it's at 160, I believe.

Doug:
Parcel size.
Jim Regusci: Yeah.

Doug:
Minimum parcel size, and that's what's helped keep Napa green, especially in those early years, before the wine industry took off, and now that the wine industry took off, it makes sense. You can make money growing grapes and making wine.
Jim Regusci: Yeah.

Doug:
So, that helps keep it green also.
Jim Regusci: For sure. I mean, you drive through the valley, in some of the ag areas, you'll see five or six houses in a row, and they kind of look out of place, and that was kind of that first push-

Doug:
Yeah.
Jim Regusci: That made the super, the supervisor that did that was Haubergeon. He rallied all of the, um, farmers and Ag community together.

Doug:
Right.
Jim Regusci: That was a big deal to give up all your property rights.

Doug:
Yeah. It was, it was contentious.
Jim Regusci: Yeah, very contentious.

Doug:
It was a good-
Jim Regusci: You will give up all your property rights.

Doug:
Yeah. It was contentious.
Jim Regusci: Yeah, very contentious.

Doug:
It was a good thing. So, I want to flashback to your dad. So, lost him just a few years ago, he was 87.
Jim Regusci: Mm-hmm (affirmative)-

Doug:
But you guys worked together forever.
Jim Regusci: Yeah.

Doug:
And, uh, you know, from where I sit, it was a successful working relationship and, you know, sometimes you hear these family stories where things go a little sideways and yours didn't-
Jim Regusci: Yeah.

Doug:
I think. What was the secret with you two?
Jim Regusci: Um, I don't really know.

Doug:
Hmm.
Jim Regusci: I never really thought about it, just always worked.

Doug:
Yeah.
Jim Regusci: You know. And, um, what I think it was is my dad was in the holding era. Everything was changing around-

Doug:
Mm-hmm (affirmative)-
Jim Regusci: Around him and he leased ground out and was able to just hold on to the family farm. Our rents then were $333 an acre for lease payments.

Doug:
Wow. Wow.
Jim Regusci: You know, I mean-

Doug:
Nothing.
Jim Regusci: That's what the rents were going for. And those were tied up on 20, 30 year leases. You know, so it was incredible that, you know, kind of went around, and then what I think was when I started the farming company, and then later when I started the winery stuff, it actually gave my dad something to do and be around. He was active.

Doug:
Was he, what was like when kicked the winery thing? Cause that's a big move, was he supportive?
Jim Regusci: Oh yeah. I mean, well, I was fortunate because I sat all my cousins, I talked to my cousins and my brothers and sisters, cause we had already, you know, with transitional family who had already passed on the land.

Doug:
Right.
Jim Regusci: And I would have been partners with all of them. But, um, they were all older than I was. So, it's back to that product of timing.

Doug:
Mm-hmm (affirmative)-
Jim Regusci: So, I was one of those American farmer families that I sat down with everybody. Chuck Wagner told me, he goes, "Jimmy, before you start a winery, make sure you get everything lined up and, cause if it becomes successful, you're gonna have family problems."

Doug:
Yeah.
Jim Regusci: And, um, I took that to heart, because you look around and a lot of families have torn up about it.

Doug:
Mm-hmm (affirmative)-
Jim Regusci: So, I sat everybody down and I asked my brothers and sisters if they wanted to get in the wine business with me. And at that time it was $60,000 I needed from each one.

Doug:
Mm-hmm (affirmative)-
Jim Regusci: No one did. Um, they, my aunt thought, "Jimmy, you're nuts."

Doug:
(laughs)
Jim Regusci: You know, she's my biggest supporter. She goes, "You're nuts, getting into the wine business." So, started the wine business-

Doug:
And none of them, none of them signed up?
Jim Regusci: Well, no, because my-

Doug:
Interesting. Well, I get it.
Jim Regusci: My siblings all grew up poor. Farm kids.

Doug:
Mm-hmm (affirmative)-
Jim Regusci: Wine grapes were not here then, you know. It's back to that timing situation. So, I sat everybody down and we had that conversation. And then later on, my one sister came to me and said, "Jimmy, at my age, would you like to buy me out?"

Doug:
Huh.
Jim Regusci: Of my future inheritance.

Doug:
Wow.
Jim Regusci: And she kicked the ball off. And then, I went, "Yeah." So, we sat down my aunt, uncle, mom, dad, and all the matriarchs, patriarchs, and they were okay with it. So, then I bought then that and I bought, my brother came on board, my other sister, and then my two cousins. And so that's how our world kind of worked, so our land will go generations down the road.

Doug:
Yeah.
Jim Regusci: You know, stay in without having to sell it.

Doug:
You know, I'm going to help out, you say you don't know what the secret was, but you just told me. It's communication.
Jim Regusci: Yeah.

Doug:
Talk to them.
Jim Regusci: Yeah, I guess.

Doug:
Yeah.
Jim Regusci: Yeah.

Doug:
You talked to them.

Doug:
You mentioned something, I got to hear this story. Your dad and Zinfandel.
Jim Regusci: Oh, my -

Doug:
What happened with your dad and Zinfandel
Jim Regusci: My dad and Zinfandel. I, um, raised the price, now you have to think about what they were getting a ton for grapes, right?

Doug:
Right.
Jim Regusci: My dad, I raised the price of Zinfandel to $50 a bottle. My dad,

Doug:
(laughs)
Jim Regusci: I'll never forget, he walks in the tasting room and he looked at it and he looks at me, he goes, he's old Italian, he goes, he has another saying that I won't say on the air, and, um, he says, "Jesus Christo," he says, "fifty dollars a bottle. I used to sell a ton of Zinfandel and haul in boxes and haul it to San Francisco for fifty dollars a ton."

Doug:
Oh.
Jim Regusci: "And now you're getting fifty dollars a bottle."

Doug:
Wow.
Jim Regusci: One time, um, I was traveling and I, um, had my dad, um, pay or had to sign for a fine for me to pay payroll tax. My dad called me up and it was like $24,000 payroll tax for that payroll.

Doug:
Right.
Jim Regusci: My dad calls me up and he goes, "Jimmy, this can't be right," he goes, "these guys are screwing you."

Doug:
(laughs)
Jim Regusci: I go, "What do you mean?" He goes, "Your grandfather paid $22,000 for the ranch. How can you be paying $24,000 for payroll taxes?"

Doug:
Oh.
Jim Regusci: You know, so think about his world.

Doug:
Yeah.
Jim Regusci: It was just, he was just an old farm boy that, you know,

Doug:
Just, everything just went "boom" around him.
Jim Regusci: Yeah, boom.

Doug:
Yeah.
Jim Regusci: Yeah, I always say that industry built around us.

Doug:
Yeah.

Doug:
Your Dad talked about, the Zinfandel, you know, sell them for $50.00 but the, the original Zin on the ranch. Are the original vines, any vines still there?
Jim Regusci: Yeah, that um-

Doug:
Or the original planting?
Jim Regusci: Yeah, um, my wife always, Laura tells the story best about this.

Doug:
Okay.
Jim Regusci: And um, with Laura, she, she's gone back and looked at all the history and that type of thing.
Jim Regusci: The story sites that I know we've backed up by researching it and that and those vines that were there when my grandfather bought the ranch-

Doug:
Right.
Jim Regusci: They were the vines that were there, when Grimsby, all the way back to that era. So, we do not know the age-

Doug:
So, when your Dad bought the ranch in the 30's-
Jim Regusci: My grandfather.

Doug:
Your grandfather. In the 30's.
Jim Regusci: Yeah.

Doug:
Those vines were there?
Jim Regusci: Right.

Doug:
But the Grimsby Winery goes, dates back to-
Jim Regusci: 1800's.

Doug:
The late 1800's.
Jim Regusci: So, in that era, we don't know what was there. The vines were ancient when, when my Dad could remember, and there was, so, there was a family next to us. There were three brothers. The um, there was the Heid brothers, and they were 90 years old when I was young.

Doug:
Right.
Jim Regusci: And they could, they always talk about the fact, they don't remember when those vines were planted. They were just always there.

Doug:
They probably had to be, that had to be the late 1870's?
Jim Regusci: Don't know.

Doug:
1880's.
Jim Regusci: Yeah.

Doug:
Something like that.
Jim Regusci: I would imagine. You know.

Doug:
It's like over, and you still have some.
Jim Regusci: Yeah, my brothers and sisters and I, we all learned how to, well, my Dad and my uncle used to still cultivate them with horses.

Doug:
Right. Huh.
Jim Regusci: Right, and then when it changed over to tractors and equipment, then, um, my Dad, my Dad still, the only thing they did was, when they would plow with horses, we got these cool photos, when they would plow with horses, you would hoe-plow, so two guys would be buddy gardener-

Doug:
Right.
Jim Regusci: And my uncle would be behind with a manual whole plow, and then, um, when time went on they got a tractor, but they didn't get the implements. So, they just replaced the horse, and put the two guys, you know, running behind a tractor now, and then as time went on, um, implements and everything came about-

Doug:
Right.
Jim Regusci: And then, that's when my Dad and my uncle taught all of us how to drive tractor-

Doug:
Right.
Jim Regusci: Was in those. So, it, it had a lot of misses in it, and then um-

Doug:
They call that tractor blight.
Jim Regusci: We call it tractor blight.

Doug:
That's when a tractor hits a, where you kind of miss. You take the vine out, but-
Jim Regusci: Yeah, and it always happens on the main road, right where everyone sees.

Doug:
Right. Right.
Jim Regusci: So, as um, time kind of rolled forward, those vineyards there needed to be replanted, and I um, would have, who would have thought to keep those old vines, right? In those days, it was VSP'd.

Doug:
Right.
Jim Regusci: All the new trellis systems and everything, coming into play, and I guess, in those days, you'd call it the new technology.

Doug:
Mm-hmm (affirmative).
Jim Regusci: So, the market was good for Merlot, so we planted eight acre block of Merlot, and we still kept two acres of that, um, zinfandel original Zn in front of Mom and Dad's house.

Doug:
Wow.
Jim Regusci: So, that's the only part we have left is a couple acres.

Doug:
It's, it's still there.
Jim Regusci: Yeah, it's still there.

Doug:
That's great.
Jim Regusci: You know.

Doug:
That's great.
Jim Regusci: So, it's kinda cool. Those old vines, it's one of those things where, it's those old history. You know?

Doug:
Oh, it's all history.
Jim Regusci: So, but coming forward, you know, now we sell direct consumer, all of this type of thing, and it's kind of funny because we have the social media world and all of that type of thing. Um, I remarried, my wife, Laura, comes from a background of sustainable Ag.

Doug:
Right.
Jim Regusci: So, she was on the original start out of Santa Cruz when they were doing the organic movement and all that type thing. Has a master's degree in sustainable ag-

Doug:
Yeah.
Jim Regusci: And taught for 18 years, college and high school. And, um, in the, she started the wine program in St. Helena.

Doug:
Right.
Jim Regusci: So, we've got a two acre garden in the winery. And, um, we tie in, we have one of those gentlemen I told you about, um, been with me all those years, is one of our chefs.

Doug:
Right.
Jim Regusci: And we've tied this all in, so our number one Facebook or shot place on our ranch is in front of a fruit stand, or wagon-

Doug:
Right.
Jim Regusci: With everything we produce. So, we, over the years, we're like the largest citrus producer. We do about 7, 8 ton of citrus. We do the gardens, we do all these kind of tie-ins.

Doug:
Mm-hmm (affirmative)-
Jim Regusci: I gave up an acre and a half of Cabernet ground. So, I always look at them, and like a zucchini cost me $500 bucks a piece.

Doug:
(laughs)
Jim Regusci: But, the, kind of the marketing and the feel and the heart and soul of-

Doug:
Oh, that, that's, it's worth it.
Jim Regusci: Yeah, it's not about selling wine, for us. It's about that experience-

Doug:
Yeah.
Jim Regusci: And that whole tie-in.

Doug:
Yeah.
Jim Regusci: And then, with our story, it's just, we're so blessed when you come to it. My oldest daughter, we have two grandchildren, my oldest is ... we go 29, 26, with Laura 16, and 11.

Doug:
I was gonna ask you, okay-
Jim Regusci: And then two grandkids on the back.

Doug:
By the way, I'm gonna to interrupt because something else about you that you folks out there need to know. This guy is a wonderful father. Let me tell you what happened, what used to happen on Halloween night.
Jim Regusci: Oh, (laughs).

Doug:
Or Halloween week. Oh my gosh.
Jim Regusci: Oh, when we lived in town.

Doug:
Yeah. Cause when you lived in town I lived next to you, back in the Wild Turkey days. Um, Halloween week would start out like about five days before Halloween, you'd come home and you'd have your pick-up truck and you'd have, like, about 50 or 60 pumpkins, maybe more, I don't know.
Jim Regusci: Yeah, we-

Doug:
And you went out with your kids and you carved every one of those pumpkins. It had to be 50, 60, 70.
Jim Regusci: Well, the way that whole things started, we were farming-

Doug:
(laughs)
Jim Regusci: We were farming in the Delta.

Doug:
Okay.
Jim Regusci: And right next to us was a big pumpkin patch, right?

Doug:
Okay.
Jim Regusci: And I knew the guys and they'd always pull off about six or eight bins for me and I'd haul them home.

Doug:
That's where they came from. I wondered.
Jim Regusci: Yeah, and it started off with my kids doing it. And then it started off with the neighbor kids doing it. And then it started off with every ... so we'd bring a couple hundred, by the time it was done, a couple hundred pumpkins would show up and the kids would do them all and it-

Doug:
It was pumpkin-
Jim Regusci: It was pretty cool.

Doug:
It was wall-to-wall pumpkins in your front yard.
Jim Regusci: Yeah.

Doug:
It was crazy, crazy.
Jim Regusci: And then, I mean, by the time that whole Halloween thing ended, there was, we had a hot dog vending machine, a popcorn machine,

Doug:
(laughs)
Jim Regusci: And-

Doug:
Another business.
Jim Regusci: We'd go through three cases of wine on Halloween night.

Doug:
Oh, oh, geez.
Jim Regusci: So …

Doug:
And then, tell me, where did you and Laura meet?
Jim Regusci: Oh, well actually,

Doug:
How'd you guys meet?
Jim Regusci: Well, we always laugh, I say we met in high school, right? And that kind of throws everybody, because Laura, I had gone through a divorce and then, um, Laura had gone through a separation and was headed to a divorce and she was, um, my kids, uh, she was the ag teacher at St. Helena High School.

Doug:
Oh, at Saint Alena High. Okay.
Jim Regusci: So, my son, James ... Alicia was in her class, and then James was in her class. And then as time rolls forward, you know, I ended up meeting and away it went from there.

Doug:
That's great.
Jim Regusci: So, it kind of just happened.

Doug:
Your kids' teacher. I love it.
Jim Regusci: Yeah.

Doug:
You met in high school. (laughs)
Jim Regusci: And then, what's funny is, James ended up going ... we have a cute story, my son-in-law is Matt Hardin.

Doug:
Right.
Jim Regusci: And, um, Matt is, I look back, Matt ... my daughter married her father, there's just no other way. Matt has a saying, it's funny because, uh, Matt's saying is, he told me one day, he goes, "Your daughter grew up on a beat up old cattle ranch, her daddy turned it into a mansion. She married a guy and moved back to a beat up old cattle ranch."

Doug:
(laughs)
Jim Regusci: And, they're building a home now, but they're raising their two, my two grandkids in a 900 square foot house,

Doug:
Right.
Jim Regusci: On the middle of an 800 acre cattle ranch, in the middle of Pope Valley.

Doug:
Nice.
Jim Regusci: And, it's funny because Matt's parents live right next door, just like my daughter grew up with her grandparents living right next door.

Doug:
Yeah.
Jim Regusci: So, it's just a carbon copy and now Matt is kind of the alpha of the family and he's planting vineyard and building out and -

Doug:
Mm-hmm (affirmative)-
Jim Regusci: He's just building their family legacy.

Doug:
Neat.
Jim Regusci: So, it's kind of cool.

Doug:
And Alicia works with you at the winery?
Jim Regusci: Alicia, she worked, Alicia's been at all the winery, um, every winery that we've started. She's been there to start with, she went, um, my two kids are the first in our generation to go to college.

Doug:
Okay.
Jim Regusci: You know, and that was kind of a big deal for me.

Doug:
Yeah.
Jim Regusci: I didn't go to college and that, and it was one of those ones where all my friends had went to college, you know, you come back. Besides a degree and everything else, it's kind of, they have a group of friends and world that they saw-

Doug:
Right.
Jim Regusci: Outside of here. So, both my kids went off to college. Um, James worked, he's finished, um, James, he's 26, he works at the French Laundry in their gardens and that.

Doug:
Yeah, I haven't seen him, I haven't seen him in a while.
Jim Regusci: Yeah.

Doug:
So, he's doing the gardens at the French-
Jim Regusci: Yeah, he's working in the gardens there.

Doug:
Good.
Jim Regusci: He actually has, um, he kind of took the same path as Laura. You know,

Doug:
Okay.
Jim Regusci: It's kind of cool-

Doug:
Your wife.
Jim Regusci: Yeah, cause they have a lot, just have a huge amount in common.

Doug:
Neat.
Jim Regusci: You know, and that type of thing. And then Alicia worked at, you know, she bounced through all the wineries. She went to work at Darioush.

Doug:
Okay.
Jim Regusci: She worked at Darioush, she worked for her uncle at Caymus. Her and Jenny are best friends.

Doug:
Right.
Jim Regusci: Um, they've done everything in life together. They've married close together. They drove the same car, unbeknownst to them, they've been the two cousins that are like sisters all their lives.

Doug:
And Jenny is Chuck's daughter.
Jim Regusci: Jenny's Chuck's daughter.

Doug:
Yeah. I remember her.
Jim Regusci: And she's a great winemaker.

Doug:
Caymus.
Jim Regusci: You know all those kids, the Caymus kids have done extremely well.

Doug:
Yeah, they're doing great.
Jim Regusci: Yeah, they're doing good. So then, Matt and Alicia now have a brand they're doing. Um, they make one brand out of our place. I did something unique for the kids for, um, I ... it was one of those ones where I had watched all those kids around our valley, you know, coming out making brands and things like that.

Doug:
Right. Right.
Jim Regusci: So, Regusci will grow direct consumer to 17,000 cases, and that's where I'll stop.

Doug:
Okay.
Jim Regusci: And then, I'm leaving 2,000 cases for the four kids. Alicia and James, Jake and Andrew. So, each one of them will have the capability, I will give them the grapes to make 500 cases and start their own brands. If Matt has done a, Matt started a brand, Matt and Alicia started a brand at our place making it with Julien Fayard.

Doug:
Mm-hmm (affirmative)- right.
Jim Regusci: And then, Matt is buddies with Thomas Brown. So, now they have a brand that they've done, it's kind of on fire, called Caterwaul.

Doug:
Okay.
Jim Regusci: So, it's kind of cool for me to kind of sit back, watch Matt and Alicia do their world. Then I get to watch James, and then the little ones are too small, but I'll get to watch theirs. But, I think it's, it's a unique opportunity for each one of those kids to be able to, if they want to do it, fine. If they don't want to do it, that's fine, but they can do a brand on their own and kind of see what the wine business is.

Doug:
Right. Yeah.
Jim Regusci: I mean, it's not the-

Doug:
Well-
Jim Regusci: It's better than just jumping into our brands, let them have a brand and do it themselves.

Doug:
Do their own thing. Well, listen, look, like I said, who's the best dad in the room?
Jim Regusci: (laughs) you.

Doug:
You. You are. So, listen, Regusci,
Jim Regusci: Yeah.

Doug:
You know, you've got this vineyard management company with a, you know, thousands of acres and tons of employees. You got Regusci Winery, you've got T Vine, you've got Tank Garage, you've got your kids, you've got your lovely wife. You're busy. You're really busy.

Doug:
But every time I see you, you're always smiling and you're happy. Tell me, my friend, what's the secret?
Jim Regusci: Delegate.

Doug:
Delegate.
Jim Regusci: Put yourself around with good people and just delegate. I think when it, um, I hired my CFO out of Duckhorn.

Doug:
Mm-hmm (affirmative)-
Jim Regusci: He came out of Duckhorn and it took him a couple of years to kind of get away from the corporate world.

Doug:
Right.
Jim Regusci: And realize, I mean, what do we is fun. We're gonna make money doing it, okay. That's fine, but you got to have a good family life, you know?

Doug:
Right.
Jim Regusci: All of my guys, when, um, a lot of guys, their kids, all of our main guys have moved from Mexico, moved their families, they're all here. If, um, if you pull into a school, you'll ... like, if there's something going on, choir or something, I don't care if it's the middle of harvest, you'll see our work trucks in there.

Doug:
Yeah.
Jim Regusci: Because it's important for you to go see your kid sing.

Doug:
Right.
Jim Regusci: It's important-

Doug:
And school.
Jim Regusci: To do those things. So, that's one of those deals where, like Jason and Randy, they know the, they'll make decisions for the company or for me-

Doug:
Yeah.
Jim Regusci: All the way up to major decisions, and sometimes wrong ones were made, but they weren't done on purpose.

Doug:
No.
Jim Regusci: You know,

Doug:
They’re thinking of the best for the business.
Jim Regusci: And 99% of them are the right decisions.

Doug:
Right.
Jim Regusci: So, that's kind of my comfort zone is just surrounding myself with good people and literally, delegate my ... I do not, I no longer have an office.

Doug:
You don't have an office?
Jim Regusci: I really have never had an office. I've bounced from-

Doug:
You've got your truck.
Jim Regusci: Yeah.

Doug:
Okay.
Jim Regusci: I've bounced around, I've almost gotten rid of my mailbox.

Doug:
(laughs)
Jim Regusci: You know (laughs). I mean, it's like, I'm kind of, I look at my role in the company as kind of a feeder.

Doug:
Yeah.
Jim Regusci: You know, get more work, you know, and that type of thing, and then, if there's issues on direction we all get together. Our meetings are pretty, James Harder and I have built all these businesses and never really sat down for a meeting. We'll do it in a pick-up or just, "Hey, what do you think about this?" And I think having that flexibility to be able to change quickly -

Doug:
Right.
Jim Regusci: Is a very, you know, we ... for us, we don't report to a bank, shareholders, anything.

Doug:
No, you're doing your own thing.
Jim Regusci: Yeah.

Doug:
All right, so here's the last question. So, once this thing airs and people start calling me up and writing me and saying, "I want to work for Regusci, how do I get in touch with him," where should ... I'll have them go to your website.
Jim Regusci: Yeah.

Doug:
They can contact you that way.
Jim Regusci: Well, actually-

Doug:
Cause they're all gonna want to work for you.
Jim Regusci: Well -

Doug:
Or with you.
Jim Regusci: Thank you. Yeah, we, um, with ... we started the term, "The Farm Collective," because of the fact, when we were selling wine across the country, and instead of going in as Regusci is this brand, that brand-

Doug:
Right.
Jim Regusci: And, that's where everything runs through is our Farm Collective.

Doug:
Cool.
Jim Regusci: That's where we hire everybody, we're always, I tell you, when someone comes in and interviews for us, we're really fortunate because they'll come in, if they're a good person, you know, you'll look, you know, you've just got to find that right fit.

Doug:
Right.
Jim Regusci: Everyone doesn't fit in the right or different places. So, we had someone come in interviewing for, um, for Regusci and we looked at him, and it's like, "You're perfect for Tank."

Doug:
Right.
Jim Regusci: You know, and then all of a sudden the whole interview changed to, like, would you like to-

Doug:
Right.
Jim Regusci: A little ink, a little piercing, whatever it may be-

Doug:
Yeah.
Jim Regusci: It's the right look and feel and then they dump into a world like Tank, and it's just like they blossom.

Doug:
Perfect.
Jim Regusci: You know, and then Regusci, it just depend what the right fit. So, pretty much, if you're a good person and, you know, you want to work in the wine business and you've ... at the end of the day, you've got to have a good personality and fit in.

Doug:
Right.
Jim Regusci: That's more important than, everything else can be taught.

Doug:
Amen.
Jim Regusci: Yeah.

Doug:
Well, my friend, thanks for coming by today. It's super to see you and thanks for the stories, there's a bunch of stuff I learned today. Thank you for that.
Jim Regusci: Well, thank you.

Doug:
And, uh, we're due for a bottle. Let's just do a bottle of Cabernet, that and Wild Turkey, how about that?
Jim Regusci: We'll do both.

Doug:
Okay, thanks, Jim.
Jim Regusci: Thank you, Doug.