Sparks traveled to Yosemite in the spring of 1984. Michael's eyes caught Rhonda's eyes through the packed space at the Cabin. Through glasses of wine, conversations were shared, addresses exchanged, and a relationship was formed. Their first home in Fremont overlooked the Weibel Vineyards, where they dreamed of one day owning their own vineyards. They planted 18 vines at their second home, also in Fremont. Before these vines reached maturity, Crane Ridge Vineyards were discovered in the Livermore Valley. They bought property with 8037 vines and designed their dream home. The winery of Wood Family Vineyards followed shortly. Rhonda took a leave of her career as an airline pilot to oversee the winemaking process. Michael, the CFO, helps where he can and enjoys the fruit of his labor, particularly the award-winning Chardonnay, his favorite.
The winery operations were moved to their new location and the tasting room opened in June 2017. Their oldest son, Harrison, has taken on the role of Executive VP. They have a deep commitment to each other and to enjoy life, family and friends. This same dedication contributes to producing luscious homemade wines. Many guests have said that they still feel like "Extended Family" while visiting the Winery and Tasting Room, which is a testimony to the wonderful environment of the Wood Family Vineyards.
The year was 1991 and the policy at USAirways, Inc. for pregnant pilots was to take a disability leave of absence from the first time they had learned about their pregnancy. Rhonda took her leave in 1991 and with 9 months on her hands, she found time to do the things she had been wanting to do for a while. She continued to renew the ranking of her flight instructor. She was skiing the slopes of Vail, CO with Gail Tworek Martin and Gina Grisofi (two other female pilots on leave under the same circumstance). She remembered the Old Wives Tale that... beer is good for breast milk. When she learned this, she thought that home brewing would be easier, and she started brewing her own.
After a few years of home brewing, Rhonda wondered why she wasn't supposed to start making wine. She and Michael enjoyed wine together in the evenings and visited the vineyards and wineries together.
They planted 18 grapevines in their backyard in Fremont with the goal of learning how to make wine. Before harvesting their backyard crops, Livermore Valley was discovered at the 1995 Harvest Festival. They saw a vineyard property for sale and decided that they should buy this property in the Bay Area while still working/moving to their day's work in San Francisco and Sunnyvale.
Michael continues to fly to Sunnyvale and supports throughout the harvest and during the year. Rhonda flew to San Francisco Airport before she ended her absence in 2001, took full time wine making and resigned from USAirways in 2006.
Rhonda continues to pursue her education in the wine industry by taking extension courses at UCDavis, courses offered at laboratories, more wine classes offered, discussions with wine makers and magazines for the wine industry.
This amazing winery is located near the following amazing must-see wineries in Livermore, California:
- Retzlaff Vineyards
- Las Positas Vineyards
- Nottingham Cellars - Livermore Winery and Wine Tasting
- Wente Estate Tasting Room & Winemakers Studio
- Concannon Vineyard
- Dante Robere Vineyards
- Page Mill Winery
- Darcie Kent Vineyards
All of these wonderful wineries are located just a short distance from our location, conveniently located just down the freeway at 1261 Locust St, Walnut Creek! Stop by for a visit anytime!