What This Winemaker and Industry Advocate Says You Need To Get Started

When John Rivenburgh purchased Kerrville Hills in 2019, he bought it to establish a wine incubator: a communal space for educated winemaking accelerating boutique operations. 

Rivenburgh, an award-winning winemaker, has a passion for growing high-quality, sustainable Texas grapes.

Rivenburgh was recently elected president of Texas Hill Country Wineries, a non-profit association that promotes the development of the member wineries in the Texas Hill Country AVA by promoting Hill Country produced wines, increasing visitors, and overall awareness of the industry.

Rivenburgh took the time to answer a few questions from Vintner Magazine about important lessons he’s learned since becoming a winemaker, business development and proposed legislation that could potentially reshape the wine industry in Texas.

VINTNER: Since you began working in the Texas wine industry, what are some of the most important developments you’ve witnessed?

RIVENBURGH: The development of a bulk market that can supply Texas wineries with 100% Texas wine is well on its way to be in a place where it can support the demand.

VINTNER: What is one of the most important lessons you’ve learned as a vintner, a business owner, and a grower? What advice would you give others who are looking to grow their small-town winery?

RIVENBURGH: Patience! Patience with your grapes, patience with your wine, patience with your return on investment. Also, enjoy what you are doing!

VINTNER: How important is it for Texas wineries to make sure their wines are composed of Texas-grown grapes, and where do you stand on the state House (and companion state Senate) bills that are looking to enhance the meaning of what it means to have a Texas AVA designation?

RIVENBURGH: In my opinion as a winemaker, there is nothing more important than promoting vineyard designation and AVA in an authentic manner. I am 100% behind this bill. It allows us to focus on the identity of the distinct AVAs [in Texas] and highlighting vineyard designations without interfering in any structure or business model currently active in the state.

VINTNER: What is one winemaking tool you’ve acquired since you’ve been in the biz that you’d say no winemaker should be without?

RIVENBURGH: Jokingly, a good truck and trailer. Other than that, good press is worth its weight in gold.

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