Rebecca and her husband Peter Work started out in the corporate I.T world. They liked wine a great deal and would travel around, attending seminars and tastings to try and learn more about it. They thought it might be nice to own a vineyard one day, after they retired from the corporate grind. The idea of cultivating grapes and making wine wasn’t really a pressing notion. They expected it was a long time off. As fate would have it, though, starting out in the wine industry came sooner than they thought. In September 2001, the pair was in New York City. Peter was scheduled to attend a meeting that morning at the World Trade Center. At the last minute, his meeting was canceled.


Ampelos Cellars' vineyard


Going through that experience made them think. Or, perhaps, more accurately, it caused them not to think so much. “We didn’t spend a whole a lot of time looking at it. We decided that we were going to get into it and if it didn’t work out then it didn’t work out,” Rebecca explains.

Starting up Ampelos Cellars, in Santa Barbara County’s Santa Rita Hills, was a bit nerve racking. They had to wait several years for the vines to mature and then another two before they could start selling wine. With checks going out and no revenue coming back in, Rebecca and Peter had to be mindful about steps they took. Thus, it was a priority that the techniques employed in their vineyards ensured the vines were as healthy as they could possibly be. Rebecca and Peter were always asking their vineyard consultant about what else they could do, and towards the end of 2005 he recommend trying biodynamic farming (biodynamic farming, in a basic nutshell, is a specific type of organic farming using natural sprays made from the surrounding land and animals.) Once the pair started using those methods, it caused them to look much more closely at the life around them, and they realized just how important it was to focus on the environment. “We believe in the saying that we didn’t inherit this earth from our parents; we’re borrowing it from our children,” Rebecca offers.

From that point on, Rebecca and Peter’s commitment to earth-friendly farming only grew stronger. When the Central Coast Vineyard Team, a group that promotes green farming practices, wanted to start offering a Sustainable Farming Certification for vineyards, Ampelos Cellars signed on to be one of the pilot vintners. Going through certification meant having outside sets of eyes come and evaluate how their vineyards were farmed. Doing so revealed new techniques for helping to promote an even healthier Eco-system in their vines they simply weren’t cognizant of before hand. The Work’s strong desire to protect the environment and being able to get feedback from experts on their approach made certification an extremely positive experience. So Rebecca and Peter continued. Today, Ampelos Cellars is the only winery to have organic, sustainable, and biodynamic farming certifications. As Rebecca puts it, “Our thinking was that if we are doing all these good things, let’s put some proof in the pudding.” When it comes down to it, thinking that you are doing right by nature and having an outside authority certify your efforts are two very different things.


Rebecca and Peter Work


Now, after a ten years, Rebecca and Peter have no regreats about their decision. While working in I.T, they would start up a project and then be moved to another one before the work had been finished. That was simply how things operated. With Ampleos Cellars, they get to be present and involved every step of the way. “We’re out there during harvest; we’re the one’s punching down [during fermentation]; we’re the one doings the bottling,” Rebecca explains. Being able to combine their passion with their careers has been very satisfying. “When people come in and respond favorably to something we’ve put so much work into, it’s a great feeling,” Rebecca remarks. The joy of making people happy is a great motivator, and it’s kept the Works striving as best they can to make great wine and produce it using earth-friendly farming methods. Doing right by others and themselves has been a great formula. Sticking with the same approach is sure to being nothing but good things in the future.

 Click the links to read reviews of Ampelos Cellars’ Pinot Noir, Syrah, and Rhone-style blend.