Dr. Revana and His Journey into the World of Wine

When it comes to owning a winery, we don’t envision a practicing doctor as the sole proprietor. Houston cardiologist Dr. Madaiah Revana is here to change our minds. He owns three wineries, two in different states and one overseas, all of which have had their wines listed in the Wine Spectator Top 100 Wines of the World.  The wineries are Revana in Napa Valley, California, Alexana in Willamette Valley, Oregon and Corazon del Sol in Mendoza, Argentina.

Dr. Madaiah Revana. Photo by Kopol Bonick Studio.

Growing up in rural India, alongside nine siblings and with no electricity, Revana, with his older brother’s help, managed to graduate with a medical degree and the highest honors from The University of Mysore, India. He then accepted a residency position in New York, arriving in the United States with only $8 to his name.  To follow his career and fortune from there is almost inconceivable.

After short stints in Philadelphia and Dallas, Revana set up shop in Houston as a cardiologist. He was first introduced to wine tasting by his fellow doctors, and he quickly became hooked on the subject. His love for wine grew, and he started thinking about purchasing a vineyard of his own.

His journey began in 1997 when Revana viewed one of the last unplanted Napa Valley vineyard sites along the famous Highway 29, just north of Saint Helena. With Jim Barbour’s help, one of the top-tier vineyard managers in Napa Valley, he purchased it and planted a vineyard. Next, he needed to hire a winemaker. Hiring an accomplished winemaker was no small task, but with his Midas touch, Revana was able to garner the winemaking skills of one of California’s leading winemakers, Heidi Petersen Barrett.  She is most famously known for her work with Screaming Eagle, Dalla Valle and Grace Family wineries, to name just a few. Fast forward to 2001, and the first Revana Estate Cabernet produced was very successful. In 2007, the Revana Estate Cabernet Sauvignon was named number four in The Wine Spectator’s Top 100 Wines.

The Alexana Estate Winery. Photo by Andrea Johnson Photography.

Revana’s current winemaker is Thomas Rivers Brown, who is on just about everyone’s list of the top five winemakers in California.   

After considering making a great Pinot Noir for some years, Revana decided to head to Oregon. He met with Lynn Penner-Ash, noted winemaker and owner of Penner-Ash Winery. Of course, she agreed to be his winemaker, and he began making wines at the Penner-Ash Winery until he found the perfect location. Penner-Ash helped Revana find the ideal spot for his winery, an 80-acre forest with 16 acres of mature vines, and in 2012, the doors to Alexana Winery were opened. It is now one of the most beautiful and successful wineries in Oregon.  His 2010 Alexana Pinot Noir was named the 17th greatest wine in the world in the top 100 wines.

Even with Revana and Alexana wineries in production, plus a full-time cardiology practice in Houston, Revana wanted more. In 2014, he purchased a vineyard site ripe for planting near The Vines of Mendoza, a Luxury Resort and Spa, with the gorgeous Andes Mountain range looming nearby. He named it Corazon del Sol and hired Santiago Achaval, one of the top three winemakers in Argentina, as his wine consultant. A few years later, his Malbec Gran Reserva 2016 was named the 74th greatest wine in the world of the top 100.

A selection from each of the three wineries. Photo by Bob McClenahan.

A selection from each of the three wineries. Photo by Bob McClenahan.

Revana personally loves to market his wines. He has traveled worldwide to promote them and speak at his wine dinners. On a recent trip home from Mendoza, he stopped in Lima, Peru to conduct wine dinners at several restaurants. Even in his early seventies, Revana is indefatigable and looks and acts at least twenty years younger. The passion he has for his wine is contagious.

Over the last several months, I have been fortunate enough to taste most of his current releases.  My wife and I returned from The Vines of Mendoza on March 1st, 2020 — pretty-good timing!  A score of 90 is the first in the outstanding category, but in my opinion, all of the wines are a score of at least 92 or higher. Here is my best of the best from all three wineries:

Bodega Corazon del Sol: Luminoso RMVG (Roussanne, Marsanne, Viognier and Grenache Blanc) 2019 at $40; Luminoso GSM (Grenache Syrah and Mourvèdre) 2017 at $40; Cabernet Sauvignon/Cabernet Franc 2016 at $85; and Gran Reserva Malbec Block 13 2017 at $75 – the latter two being in the 95 range.

Alexana Estate Vineyard and
  Pinot Noir Signature 2017 at $80; Pinot Noir East Blocks 2018 — only 327 cases produced at $80; Pinot Noir West Blocks 2018 — only 334 cases produced at $80; and Pinot Noir Revana Vineyard 2018 at $80.  All are in the 95-96 range.

Revana Vineyards: Cabernet Sauvignon Terroir Series 2017 at $105, 93; Cabernet Sauvignon Estate 2017 at $150, 97; Cabernet Sauvignon Rutherford 2016 at $150, 95; Cabernet Sauvignon Stags’ Leap 2016 at $150, 97; and Cabernet Sauvignon Howell Mountain 2017 at $150, 96.

Revana’s quiet confidence and charming charisma hide his persistence and determination that everything he does must continue to be improved.  According to the good doctor, “The status quo is not acceptable.” While providing each winery with the best equipment and personnel to get the job done, he is always asking, “What more do you need, and what can we do better?”

For an enlightening digital experience, visit corazondelsol.com, alexanawinery.com and revanawine.com.