Larry Andrews, the founder of Naples Fine Wine (formerly Fairways Wine Vault), remembers when he first fell in love with wine. It was 1992, and he was at The Lodge & Spa at Cordillera in the Beaver Creek, Colorado area, where he was visiting for a golf tournament. “I was a pretty good golfer at this time,” he says.
There, he met an avid collector from Castle Pines, Colorado, and a long wet dinner ensued. “It was hilarious because I’m 6 foot 4 (inches tall) and the young pro that I brought with me was 6’ 7, and he was drinking (wine) like soda pop, so I had to kick him under the table to get him to slow down,” Larry says, laughing.
Before this trip, Larry drank wine on occasion; his go-to wines were Sonoma Valley’s Jordan and Napa’s Caymus—maybe he’d go for an Opus One if it was an anniversary or special occasion. But the Cordillera holiday stands as a turning point in his wine education. Despite the revelry, the week proved to be as much about quality as quantity, when Larry learned to appreciate offerings from two Napa wineries—Colgin Cellars and Bryant Estate. “I knew they were more expensive than what I had been drinking,” he says. “We settled in and started enjoying it properly.” After a period of four or five days refining his palate, he was invited to Castle Pines for more golf and wine. He took to the latter so quickly that he asked his host how he could get involved with viticulture. The answer was for him to read up and join a wine organization. “And he said, ‘You’ll be surprised—you’ll meet friends who like wine rather rapidly,’” Larry recalls.
Wine has enhanced Larry’s life in ways he never could have imagined. Raised in Michigan, he’d come to Naples to follow his dream of becoming a professional golfer, found the sport far more competitive than he’d imagined, then got into the building industry and stayed. In 1975, he founded AA Stucco & Drywall, which outfits commercial and residential buildings from Tampa to Marco Island. As his construction business flourished (at one point he had 1,000 employees), Larry found that he was able to travel the world, golfing as an amateur. Thus, his life in Naples has allowed him to focus on his three loves: golf, wine and his wife, Cheryl, who helps him run Naples Fine Wine, with its impressive 25,000-plus wine inventory.
Cheryl, fortuitously, has a background in beer and wine distribution and accounting. She met Larry around 2007 and became acquainted with fine wines through him. When Larry decided to sell his portfolio, Cheryl developed a website to aid him in that endeavor. But Larry remains the connoisseur of the family: For Cheryl, wine is strictly business (save for the occasional glass of bubbly).