Life as a Winemaker: Rebecca & Peter Work

The next article in the series 'Life as a Winemaker' will examine the resolve and passion necessary to produce the hands-on craft wines that many boutique wineries produce throughout the world. Many will tell you that 80-85% of the work is all done in the vineyard, with hard work and determination. It is not an overnight fix or change that will make a big impact, but hands-on working the vines and walking the land. Paying attention to what nature is telling you, trying to coax out the best fruit, all while trying to have as minimal of an impact on the local environment as possible.

Our winemakers today have a simple philosophy, "Soil. Vines. Wines." They co-manage the 1st vineyard in the US to be certified Sustainability in Practice, Organic and Biodynamic. Their commitment to eco-friendly and organic farming shows through in the final bottle. Let's learn more about how and why the Work Family got into winemaking.

Rebecca & Peter Work

How did you get started in the wine business? What made you decide to become a winemaker?

We had purchased a piece of land in santa Barbara county in 1999 and thought it would be interesting to plant a vineyard – kind of a hobby. We fly into NY on 911 and my husband would have been at the world trade center but at the last minute the meeting was cancelled. On returning to LA we decided to leave the corp world and started our journey on learning how to make wine.

Do you have a degree in winemaking? Or are you self-taught?

We are self taught. We had several very well known wine makers who helped us along the way.

Are there any memories / lessons you learned in your training that have stuck with you?

We have lots of memories of the wonderful folks we have meet along the way. There are so many people who are interested in wine and love to learn about it.

How would you describe your winemaking style?

European style with a California twist.

What does your day-to-day actually look like as the winemaker?

One thing about this industry is there is no day-to-day. One day we are out picking grapes, another we are working an event, another we are bottling, another we are making sales calls, etc.

What has surprised you most about being a winemaker?

How hard it is.

What is your favorite varietal to work with and why?

Peter's favorite is pinot noir because of it delicate nature. Rebecca's is Grenache – very temperamental.

In the world of wine, who do you most admire and why? Who influenced you?

We are strong into biodynamic farming and admire the vineyards that first began farming biodynamic.

How involved do you get in the vineyards?

We are part of every aspect of it.

Do you have a favorite wine or vintage that you have made?


What is one of the hardest things about winemaking year in and year out?

Selling the wine.

What is one of the most rewarding things about your job?

Continuing to learn – always something new.

What’s your favorite wine region in the world – other than your own?

We are partial to wines from Burgundy

If you could drink wine anywhere, in any region or country, where would it be and why?

We love the balance of the burgundy wines.

What goals in winemaking are you still working to achieve?

We like to raise the bar every year on what makes a better wine.

The title photo of Ampelos Cellars is courtesy of TripAdvisor.