Riverbench Vineyard was established in 1973, when the first Chardonnay and Pinot Noir grapes were planted on the bank of the Sisquoc River, known as the Santa Maria Bench. For decades since then, some of the most renowned wineries have purchased our fruit for their wines. In 2004, we began producing our own wines in limited quantities, with many available exclusively through our tasting rooms in Santa Maria and Santa Barbara, California.
Situated on the southeastern edge of the Santa Maria Valley, the northernmost AVA in Santa Barbara County, the vineyard currently consists of 115 acres of Pinot Noir and 15 acres of Chardonnay. We continually evaluate the vines as they age, replanting as necessary. In 2008, we committed ourselves to our premium sparkling wine program. We continue to take steps to make wines that are inspired by centuries of sparkling wine making history in Champagne, France. In 2015, we added the third great grape varietal famous in that area, Pinot Meunier, to our vineyard. We anticipate incorporating these grapes into our sparkling wine blends beginning in 2017.
A transplant from the Carolinas, Laura has been in the Santa Barbara County wine business since 2004. Raised in a family dedicated to wine importing, distributing, and sales, she was attracted to the wine industry at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, and after graduating moved directly to Santa Ynez.
Through many years of exploring foods from all parts of the world, Laura has developed an expertise in pairing food and wine. In 2013, she received a Masters in Business administration from Pepperdine’s Graziadio School of Business. A substantial retail background and experience in the local wine business led her to Riverbench, where she has worked since 2007.
Clarissa fell in love with the aromas of Pinot Noir when she started working with wine in 1995. She received a Bachelor of Science in Food Science from California Polytechnic State University, and began her career as a Lab Technician at Edna Valley Vineyards. From there she moved through the roles of Research Assistant Winemaker at Byron Winery, Assistant Winemaker and Vineyard Supervisor at Longoria Winery, and winemaker for Bonaccorsi Wine Company since 2006.
Clarissa is known for her elegant and sophisticated winemaking style, and for her appreciation for fruit that comes from the Santa Maria Valley. She continues to refine Riverbench wines each vintage, and adds her own unique twists to our portfolio.
Rawley was born in Santa Maria and raised on the Central Coast, where he has been directly involved in agriculture since childhood. He attended California Polytechnic in San Luis Obispo and double majored in Viticulture and Agriculture Business. While there, his interest in wine grape growing flourished, and he developed a love of nurturing vines.
Rawley gained experience working for private and corporate wine grape growing companies throughout the state, namely Santa Barbara and Sonoma counties. Rawley enthusiastically looks forward to the opportunity to manage our vineyard, which is close to his heart, and seeing the contribution of the vineyard growing phases in the resulting wines.
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