In 1998 our son and daughter-in-law purchased vineyard land in Calistoga, Napa Valley, California.  Shane (son) and I decided at that time that we should take some viticulture (grape growing) classes at UC Davis.  Over the next few months we completed some very intensive classes and found that this is going to be a very exciting ride.  

In the meantime I had been helping a very good friend (Ron Wilson) with a few menial jobs in his winery. From this experience  I knew that winemaking was for CRAZY people and probably not for me.  

As Shane and I took more classes at Davis we met some of the professors in the Enology (winemaking) section and I was convinced by one of them to take his beginning winemaking class.  That was the beginning of “the end of life” as I knew it.  

From that first vintage of wine in 1998 came a gold and silver medal in the amateur winemaking division at the Orange County and Los Angeles County Fairs.  And what does one have to do after that? Defend! Of Course!  So now there was the wait of one year until the next harvest.  How better to fill that time but with wine chemistry classes, filtration classes, wine production classes, yeast biology classes, and any other class available in the Enology division at UC Davis?  Crazy I became.  This passion for winemaking is a step up in the ‘crazy” category from my sailing days when I constantly threw $100 bills into the hole in the water where my boat was kept. It is amazing how many $$$ it takes to fill up a barrel with wine.

My biggest regret is that this winemaking passion didn't consume me many years ago.  I have so few harvests left and so many mistakes to make and so many great wines to create.  

I began a UC Davis "winemaking certificate course" in September 2004 which coincides with a number of the upper division masters courses.  It is so heavy into organic chemistry that I enlisted the help of a UCLA chemistry professor as my tutor and thanks to his expertise and the complete understanding and support I received from my wife and office staff I graduated in July 2006.

Since my graduation I have partnered with my son and daughter-in-law and wife in the Pavitt Family Winery in Calistoga. Click on the Phifer Pavitt tab on the home page to look at our "for profit" wine endeavor. I am excited to say that our first bonded bottling of 2005 Cabernet Sauvignon was completed March 25,2007. I know it is a very good Cab. I hope you will enjoy some soon. We have named it "DATE NIGHT". The history of that name is that Shane and Suzanne (son and daughter-in-law) have made virtually every decision in the married life during their weekly Thursday night "DATE NIGHT".

As far as my winemaking down south, at the moment, 01/12/2008, here in Manhattan Beach at Chateau Pacific Winery, I have Cabernet Sauvignon, Sangiovese, Merlot, Nebbiolo, Petite Sirah, Syrah, Pinot Noir, Zinfandel, and Sangiovese (natural yeast fermented) all in barrels. There is Pinot Grigio Rose' and Sangiovese Rose' in stainless tanks, and lots of Champagne in the riddling rack ready to be dosaged and corked. Just out of the cold stabilizer is the Pinot Grigio, Sauvignon Blanc, and Viognier all ready to be filtered and bottled.

The  2007 Dream Team just bottled 80 cases which included Tempranillo Reserve 2005, Cabernet Sauvignon 2005, Zinfandel 2004 , Pinot Grigio 2006, Viognier 2006, and Sauvignon Blanc 2006. This just proves some people will do almost anything for paella.

With that in mind I have to get out into the garage and clean up the mess I made in the lab this afternoon.


I’ll keep you all updated.