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The Beginning

Vineyard Blog

Fred Williamson
May 18, 2017 | Fred Williamson

The Beginning

Rivahil Winery Barrels

Rivahil Winery is the culmination of quite a few years of focus on winemaking.  I started with Jaffurs Cellars in Santa Barbara in 2009. My experience started with volunteering at Craig Jaffurs' winery for several years of bottling and harvests and then eventually being hired to work a full harvest.  Craig and his crew at the winery were very patient with my million questions over the years and they were more than willing to share their techniques in how they prefer to make wine. The wine industry as a whole is very welcoming and everyone I've met is willing to share suggestions and knowledge on winemaking.

Eventually Craig hired me to work a harvest full time. ( I just wore him down over 5 years to actually hire me ). All the time spent at Jaffurs was great experience and gave me the foundation to begin making my own wines.  One thing you learn in winemaking is that you need to take your experience and techniques and be able to apply it each year to different harvest situations. It takes years of experiences and learning how to deal with the different conditions that harvest may present a winemaker.  Dry years, wet years, sugar levels, ph levels and what you may need to do to produce the style of wine you prefer given the different grapes you receive each year.

I decided on calling it Rivahil Winery because it really has been a family process. The first year I made my own wine I had to send my eldest son (then 20) out to a vineyard to pick up a bin of grapes.  He had no idea where he was going or what the process would involve, but sure enough he had the grapes back at the garage to be processed. Everyone in our family has been involved either with the hand bottling, labeling, foot stomping, punchdowns and pressing.  You name it and they've helped with it.

After several years of home winemaking in the garage, it was time to move up to a legitimate wine business level of operation.


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