Houston native Randy Hester knew he wanted to make wine after working in the fine wines division of a major distributor. Hester discovered it was more than just sales for him – he wanted to be in a profession where he could create with his own hands and share the fruits of his labor to elevate the wine drinking experience. In order to gain the right education, training and experience to achieve their goal of making a difference in the Texas wine industry, the couple moved to California in 2006.
After moving to Napa, Hester began as a 36-year-old intern at Cakebread Cellars, eventually working full-time, and coupled his training with viticulture and enology courses at Napa Valley College on nights and weekends. Though his formal education was essential to his growth in winemaking, Hester credits his craft to the world class winemakers that he was fortunate enough to work with, including highly acclaimed winemakers such as Andy Erickson, Michel Rolland, Mike Hirby, and Helen Keplinger, at various distinguished producers including Colgin Cellars, Caldwell Vineyard, Realm Cellars, and Marciano Estate. The Hesters launched Lightning Wines in 2011 and focused on making Grenache and other Rhone varietals.
As the final step to the 10-year plan, C.L. Butaud Wines was created in 2014 with a focus on creating high-quality wines that proudly utilize 100-percent Texas grown grapes. Their first Texas harvest took place in 2014 before the couple moved to Austin, Texas in 2017.