A Lawyer in Love With Two Blind Disciplines: Justice and Wine-Tasting
Both Randy Roach and his wines have depth and good character
Published in 2009 Texas Super Lawyers magazine
on September 14, 2009
Updated on September 23, 2009
If you want to make a small fortune in the wine business, winemakers say, you have to start with a large fortune. It is a pursuit driven more by passion than by profits.
But Houston attorney Robert M. “Randy” Roach Jr. has plenty of passion. “I became interested through a high school girlfriend whose family was very serious about wine,” he says. “We would get to drink great French champagnes and French burgundies, mostly in the home, but sometimes in accommodating restaurants.”
That was in the early 1970s. The girlfriend is history, but Roach’s appreciation of fine wine has never wavered. In fact, it has led to numerous trips to Napa Valley and an eventual partnership with Fred Schrader, who founded Schrader Cellars, the boutique winery in Calistoga, Calif., that was the first winery ever to earn two perfect 100-point scores for cabernet in the same vintage (2006) from renowned wine critic Robert Parker. The 2006 vintage of his own wine, Schrader RBS (Roach Brown Schrader), received Parker’s “nearly perfect” score of 99 points.
Roach, 54, a founding partner of litigation boutique Roach & Newton, says his love of wine has frequently proved to be a great networking tool. “It always seems to come up in conversation,” he says. “People find out and the world changes.”
While completing his undergraduate studies at Georgetown University, he worked on Capitol Hill and selected and served wines for political dinners. And he started his own wine collection while in law school at the University of Texas, and remembers his first major purchase fondly. “It was a 1974 Chateau Montelena,” he recalls. “There was a wonderful place in Austin that had a fabulous collection of wines. I’ll never forget buying it.”
In the mid-1980s, Roach began visiting Napa Valley two or three times a year. He befriended Schrader, who asked him on New Year’s Day 2000 if he was interested in investing in a new venture along with noted winemaker Thomas Rivers Brown. That led to the launch of a Schrader Cellars line of Napa cabernets—the Schrader RBS—that have not only garnered the tremendous reviews from Parker but also received the highest blind-tasting scores ever from the Wine Spectator, and which are featured on wine lists at some of the finest restaurants around the country.
Roach also tackled important legal battles for Schrader, most notably winning a trademark infringement suit brought against them by industry giant Robert Mondavi.
Roach says he considered moving to Northern California at one point, but realized that his heart—and his business—was in Texas. “Texas is a great place to be a litigator,” he says. “The law is my first love, and the ability to advise clients and resolve disputes in Texas can’t be beat.”
Even by a ’74 Chateau Montelena.