Bevill Family Vineyards
Duff Bevill owns 82 acres of vineyards in the Dry Creek Valley and his company manages more than 800 acres. Some wineries that use his grapes are Lambert Bridge, Dry Creek Vineyards and Nickel and Nickel.
Bevill Family Vineyards
Dry Creek ValleyHow long have you farmed this property?
27 years. Our first Sauvignon Blanc vineyard was planted in Dry Creek Valley in 1979.
Total acreage managed and grape varieties planted
82 planted acres: Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Petite Sirah, Sauvignon Blanc, Syrah, Viognier and Zinfandel. My vineyard management company currently farms over 800 acres for our clients.
Why did you become a grape grower?
My original intention was to specialize in fruit and nut production somewhere in Northern California. However, a summer job in Dry Creek Valley in 1973 transformed this career goal. I became acquainted with many older farmers in Dry Creek Valley and they taught me old timers’ wisdom and I admired their stories of self-reliance. I was in my early twenties and I would sometimes sit in Jim Guadagni’s cellar and drink his homemade wine out of a shot glass or jelly jar. It gave me a sense of history and an appreciation for what it means to be a grape grower in this valley. I began Bevill Vineyard Management in 1976.
I have been farming in Sonoma County for three decades. I am a strong proponent of the Vineyard Sediment and Erosion Control Ordinance as developed by SCGGA. I support other grape growing and agricultural organizations and work with the environmental community. I have developed hillside vineyards since the mid 1980’s and am an advocate of proper erosion control methods. I have also been one of the participating vineyard managers in the Integrated Pest Management (IPM) program that provides growers with opportunities to discuss vineyard pest management at a monthly meeting. I am a strong supporter of the Code of Sustainable Winegrowing Practices, a self-assessment approach to improving vineyard techniques developed by the California Association of Winegrape Growers and Wine Institute. Sustainable farming is based upon grape growing practices that are sensitive to the environment, responsive to the needs and interests of employees and society-at-large, and are economically feasible to implement and maintain.
What changes in farming practice do you anticipate making in the next 5 years?
I see two different demands facing growers in the future: the pressure to control expenses so that farming remains sustainable, and the demands of detailed farming to produce superior quality. Sonoma County growers need the small wineries that can support bottle prices that reconcile these two goals.
What was your worst horror story in grape growing?
The harvest of 1989 was my worst experience with 6-8” of rain in early September of that year. The grapes were not ripe, but close, so they rotted because we could not get into the rain-soaked fields with our equipment. Remarkably, there were still many very good wines made that year in Sonoma County.
Is your vineyard designated on any wine labels?
For our 2004: RoShamBo, Borri Vineyard Syrah, Dry Creek Valley. Lambert Bridge, Bevill Viognier. Nickel & Nickel, Wolcott Vineyard, Zinfandel.
Other wineries that have had designates in the past for our grapes: Dry Creek Vineyards, Late Harvest Sauvignon Blanc; Mazzocco Vineyards, Viognier, Dry Creek Valley.
What is your favorite food/wine combination?
I like Zinfandel with red sauce foods or steak; Sauvignon Blanc with a salad combination of feta, legumes, other greens and nuts.
Greatest length of service or other item of interest about your workforce.
I prefer having 20-year veterans working for me who are happy at whatever job they are doing and at every level in the company. That experience is invaluable and they have the ability, and interest, to mentor our newer employees. I have several such employees and am always interested in developing a lifetime staff for our vineyard management company.
Advice for young people
Get in the wine and grape community – it is a good and satisfying career.
Any other information that you would like to include about yourself, the ranch, your business, family or history of the area:
I couldn’t have accomplished any of this without my wife Nancy as a business partner as well as the person who shares my life. We have four great children: Nathan and Hanna Bevill, Kathy Doig, and Larry Smatt, and two grandchildren. I have enjoyed working professionally on various winegrape boards, serving as president of both Winegrowers of Dry Creek Valley and Sonoma County Grape Growers Association. Currently I am leading the campaign for the Sonoma County Winegrape Commission. As a family we have also been supporters of Canine Companions in Santa Rosa, Healdsburg FFA Fair, the Healdsburg Hospital and many other community supporting associations.