Alumni Lives

The Winding Road to Grapeness

Martin Reyes, ’00, becomes the first Master of Wine of Mexican descent.

By Melinda Sacks

Photo: Nicole Marino

Martin Reyes, ’00, attributes his love for wine and all of its intricacies to a memorable Thanksgiving dinner with classmates in Paris during his Stanford study abroad. A lavish spread, he recalls, was offered to “us 20-year-old kids.” He adds, laughing: “We realized there was a lot more to alcohol than doing body shots.”

It was the conviviality and joy of sharing great wine and food that pulled him in, says the soon-to-be father of two (daughter Aria is 3 ½ and his wife, Nysa Lane, ’98, is pregnant with their second.) “Conviviality was a word I didn’t even know back then,” he admits. “But it was the moment when I realized, ‘I want to learn more about wine.’”

Fast-forward to today, and Reyes is the first person of Mexican descent to achieve the title of Master of Wine, a certification awarded by the Institute of Masters of Wine. The professional organization has conferred the title on 370 industry professionals worldwide who have met its professional requirements, passed the required tests and conducted research in their field. Reyes’s project evaluated the effect of crowdsourcing wine reviews on consumer behavior.

Photo: Nicole Marino

The path to Master of Wine was a winding one for Reyes, whose parents emigrated from Mexico to the United States before he was born. He applied to only four colleges because that’s how many vouchers his high school offered to cover the application fee for low-income students. He was admitted all four schools and chose Stanford, where he majored in international relations. After graduation, Reyes stuck to his job selling Cutco knives and eventually added a part-time job as bartender in Palo Alto “just to pay the bills.”

Through serendipity and his developing love for wine, he found himself first managing a wine store and later managing wine clubs for the New York Times and Williams-Sonoma, in addition to holding jobs as a wine buyer, importer, educator and winemaker. Reyes is co-founder of Breton-Reyes Wines, a consultant for Vice Versa Wines and curator of Reyes Selections, a winery portfolio for distributor Pip Imports.

While his life as a Master of Wine requires significant international travel, Reyes says his happy place is still at home sipping a glass of his favorite sherry, El Maestro Sierra. And yes, sherry is a wine, in case you weren’t sure. •


Melinda Sacks, ’74, is a senior writer for STANFORD.