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Liliana, Chris, Jesse & Michele Padberg/Owners

HOW IT STARTED:

Vivác Winery is the creation of brothers Jesse and Chris Padberg, along with their wives,

Michele and Liliana Padberg, respectively. In November of 1998 Jesse and Chris embarked on a new mission
"to make the best wine possible and have a good time doing it!" This meant professionally crafted, world-ranked, dry red wines-a first for New Mexico.

Jesse and Chris found inspiration in France and Italy, and were especially drawn in by the Old World wine culture, where winemaking is a dance between art and science. The brothers began reading every publication they could find about grapes, winemaking, and the world of wine. Though extensive travel around the world and mentorships with other local winemakers, they learned about the wine business in general and more specifically about the wine business in Northern New Mexico; "At every turn people were there to help us out" say the brothers.

WINE EDUCATION:

Through the world-renowned enology department at the University of California at Davis, the brothers gained credits and knowledge. Both Jesse and Chris continue the pursuit every day and will soon obtain their Wine Making Certification from this very prestigious school. Chris, Jesse, and Michele completed a certified wine sommelier course through the International Wine Guild in Denver, Colorado. Jesse and Michele passed their second-level wine sommelier exams and both have achieved the rank of Certified Executive Sommelier. The couple has also completed several Master-level classes. Chris and Liliana will complete their second level soon. Liliana completed her first level during their visit to Argentina at the Esencial Sobre Vinos, Tecnica de la Cara.
 
  THE GUYS:

Chris and Jesse were born and raised in Dixon, New Mexico. Chris attended the University of Tulane in New Orleans, Louisiana, for three years before transferring to and graduating from the University of New Mexico in 2001. While at UNM, Chris worked on Vivác Winery with Jesse, while he finished up his degree in history. He now lives with his lovely wife, Liliana Zavala Padberg, and son Maddox and daughter Chablis in Dixon."

Jesse attended the University of Colorado at Boulder, where he got his degree in Spanish Literature. He now lives in Dixon with his lovely wife, Michele Alexandra Padberg (formerly Bartley), and their son, Denim.

Jesse and Chris are a nonstop team, making the wines, testing the wines, tasting the wines, and working the vineyards, each step done by hand, together. The perfectionist in each of them drives the two forward to create ever-better wines. Jesse and Chris's studies through UC Davis and The International Wine Guild continue, helping them to unearth the secrets to "the perfect wine." By nurturing each varietal, coaxing each wine through a slow and steady fermentation, and breathing soul into each wine, Jesse and Chris show their true love and passion for winemaking.

THE LADIES:

Michele and Liliana form the team that runs the business side of Vivác Winery. Michele is the Director of Marketing and Publicity. Liliana is the Tasting Room and Wine Club Manager. Together they push the winery into the forefront of people's minds through events, the Web, social media, and advertising. Vivác's growth is dependent on products getting into the hands of customers every day; the follow-up is that the product in the bottle is superb.

Michele was born and raised in Taos, New Mexico. In addition to her work with the Vivác line, she is Creative Director for Red Hot Mama Wines and the host of "Great Grape TV" a wine travel show due to air soon. Michele has a background in fine art and theatre. She studied at the renowned The School of The Art Institute of Chicago, and spent an additional 3 years as a B.F.A. Theatre major with an emphasis on Performance at the University of Colorado at Boulder. Michele is an Executive Sommelier, certified from the International Wine Guild. With her extensive knowledge of fermentation and taste profiles, she created Kissable Cheeses and is now Vivác's in-house Fromegére creating hand crafted cheeses. Her contemporary paintings and Kissable Cheeses are for sale at the Vivác Winery Tasting Room and Gallery.

Liliana was born and raised in Aguascalientes, Mexico. She has worked as a model and studied photography both in Mexico and at the University of New Mexico-Taos prior to completing her sommelier certification at Esencial Sobre Vinos, Tecnica de la Cara, in Argentina. In addition to her managerial roles with Vivác, Liliana handles the extensive taxes for the winery, happy-hour events, and computer programming. Liliana's greatest fame comes from her business, Ek.Chuah Chocolates, along with her black-and-white photography, both of which are for sale in the Vivác Winery Tasting Room and Gallery. Ek.Chuah Chocolates are hand-made and -painted moulded truffles that delight the professional foodie and the young enthusiast alike.

 
 

WHAT IS VIVÁC?

The word "Vivác" is a Spanish term meaning "high-altitude refuge," and Vivác Winery is just that. By choosing only the highest-quality products-from the best grapes, the most advanced winemaking equipment and processes, and real corks, to Riedel logo glasses in the tasting room-Vivác is a rarity. At every turn the Padbergs treat their wines with the utmost care; hand-harvesting and hand-sorting grapes, and even using a gentle bladder pump and gravity feed so as not to bruise the wines. Only high-quality French oak barriques and stainless steel barrels are used for aging. After bottling, these unfiltered, unfined wines rest for 12 months before they are sold. Every winemaking step is done meticulously by hand.  The ever-expanding estate Fire Vineyard is farmed organically and keeps this area focused on agriculture. Each item in the tasting room that represents this boutique winery is one of elegance and refinement.

With record-breaking ratings in Wine Enthusiast Magazine, Vivác Winery has earned the title of "Highest Rated Red Wine Producer in New Mexico's History." Sunset Magazine has named Vivác "Notable up and coming wine makers" and "Winery to discover now!" With a commitment to excellence, the Vivác Winery family has pushed the boundaries of what New Mexico wine can be!

VINEYARDS:

While a major portion of the grapes used at Vivác are sourced from the southern part of New Mexico (in Deming), Vivác also cultivates their own estate vineyards.

The first to be planted was the Fire Vineyard in 1999. Organically farmed, this vineyard sits at 6,000 feet, and was so named because then 8-year-old Jesse and 6-year-old Chris lit the field on fire with fireworks. This vineyard is planted on the family property tucked into the hills of Dixon, near the winery facility and surrounded by apple orchards. When Jesse and Chris planted the vineyard, little was known in the area about what would grow. Local vintners and growers recommended French hybrids, including Leon Millot, Baco Noir, and Marechal Foch. As years have passed and these highly skilled winemakers learned to tame the briar-like rustic qualities of these grapes, the Fire Vineyard estate wine has become a customer favorite!

The newly planted 1725 Vineyard is organically farmed and sits at 5,800 feet. It was named based on the information given to us about the land itself by Dixon native and historian, Estevan Arellano. The land where the tasting room and new vineyard are located once belonged to Mr. Arellano's great-grandmother's companion, Francisco Martin, a great-great-grandson of the original Francisco Martin who settled the Embudo Valley in 1725. The couple never married, but had three children. The land passed down through generations and finally to Vivác.

Originally the boundaries of this land stretched from the Barrancos Blancos (the white sandstone mountain that is on our label and serves as a landmark to our tasting room) down to the Angostura (which is the present-day Arroyo de la Mina). The Padbergs were struck by the history of the land and the long-lost years of the past; what this soil has seen is awe-inspiring. To quickly articulate all of this, you need say no more then "1725," and thus the new vineyard name was found.

1725 Vineyard, thus far, is planted in white Chenin Blanc grapes, white Riesling grapes & red Petit Verdot grapes. Vivác looks forward to expanding the vineyard in the next year with Pinot Noir.

In 2008 we purchased an adjacent 2 acres to the tasting room property, and in 2010, we purchased another 8 acres, also adjacent to the tasting room property, which includes a vineyard house. All of this new property will be planted in vines and eventually house the entire winemaking facility as well. The vineyard will continue to be named 1725 Vineyard.

Southern New Mexico's Mimbres Valley (at 4,300 feet) is currently the state's only AVA (American Viticulture Area), and is the site where a major portion of the state's grapes are grown. Vivác works closely with the vineyard manager to pick when the grapes have an appropriate sugar level and yet a level conducive to good acidity. The grapes are handpicked in small baskets and delivered to our winery whole.

Vivác Winery, along with other growers in the area, are currently working to have the Embudo Valley named as an AVA. This will help New Mexico greatly expand its reputation and recognition in the wine world.

 
 

THE WINERY:

The winery facility is on the family property, tucked into the Dixon foothills, surrounded by apple orchards. The original building is a 500-square-foot Rastra-block space built by Jesse and Chris in 1999. This space was quickly outgrown. In 2004 the current facility, a 1500-square-foot metal building, was put up, insulated, and equipped with a full heating and cooling system designed to keep the wines at a constant temperature, from fermentation to oak aging and finally to bottle. The initial building is now used for storage of bottled wines awaiting release. The total winemaking facility is 2000 square feet, not nearly enough for the 20% yearly growth in production.

Everything in the winemaking process is done entirely by hand, from hand-sorting the grapes to hand-punch-downs and hand-bottling. The 100% French oak barrique collection is formed of both new and old oak barrels. Despite French oak's high price, the Padbergs insist on using only this top-quality wood because it imparts the sweet spices that are a hallmark of Vivác's Old World-style wines. When not in oak, Vivác wines are fermented and aged in temperature-controlled stainless-steel tanks.

THE TASTING ROOM AND GALLERY:

Located at the corner of Highway 75 (Dixon) and Highway 68 (between Taos and Santa Fe), this 900-square-foot adobe building was built by Jesse and Chris themselves. With vaulted ceilings and a striking flagstone bar, the tasting room offers guests a chance to taste impressive Vivác wines. Guests can shop for wine gifts (corkscrews in every budget, a library of wine education books, wine racks, games, logo shirts, Riedel logo glasses, and much more) and enjoy the famous handmade chocolates, contemporary jewelry, and exquisite art (paintings, photography, and blown glass). The Padbergs' thirst for knowledge is accompanied by a desire to share that information, including an intensive training and testing schedule for staff. Each tasting room attendant is required to not only know about the Vivác wines, but also about the process of growing grapes, winemaking, and general knowledge about wines around the world. This training is in an effort to create a knowledgeable staff ready to help each customer to their fullest.

Outside, the rock-framed flowerbeds welcome visitors and draw them along flagstones paths into the walled retreat of the patio. The views are breath-taking, one toward the river and mountains gazing over the vineyard, and the other of the massive sandstone mountain, Barrancos Blancos, which is so artfully depicted on the signature Vivác label.

The tasting room is open 7 days a week all year long, with free Wi-Fi and a happy-hour season (from spring through fall) that attracts locals and tourists alike to the live-music Saturdays and drink specials, making it truly a community winery.
 
 

TASTING ROOM STAFF: 

Jana is a Texas transplant, but has lived here long enough to be considered a local! She elicits the memories of summers past when she would visit New Mexico, lured by the beautiful high desert. Upon her move, she built a solar home in the small village of Ojo Sarco. Jana loves wine because "it encompasses all of the senses: taste, sight and smell." She goes on to say that her favorite things about Vivác Winery "are the people I work with and the customers I meet from all over the country and around the world." Jana has an extensive résumé working in retail prior to becoming a part of the Vivác family. Today, Jana's hobbies include road cycling, river rafting, and hiking.

Jasmine was born and raised in Taos, New Mexico, and recently moved with her husband, Zach, to Dixon. Her mother was actually one of Jesse and Chris's teachers at Taos High School. With a résumé built on retail experience, Jasmine is also an organic farmer. She appreciates that Vivác organically farms as well. Jasmine explains that she was drawn to Vivac for the winery's "quality of products and commitment to quality," along with her love of wine, "the history, the diversity of flavors and aromas. The more I learn, the more fascinating it becomes."

 
 

Heather moved to New Mexico from Vermont to pursue her Master's degree in Eastern Classics from St. John's College in Santa Fe. Her first introduction to wine was on a trip to France and Italy at the age of 18. There she "learned to understand the ritualistic love of wine and food." The wine she brought back and the experience drinking it has left an indelible mark. Heather's favorite thing about Vivác is "meeting all of the interesting people who come through the tasting room." Heather says, by working at Vivác, "I rediscovered my love of wine." Heather and her husband, Les, organically farm and keep 200 topbar hives, selling the produce and honey at the Santa Fe Farmer's Market.

Seraph grew up in Eugene OR, but moved to Vadito, NM with her husband and daughter after what she calls "a bad day at work"! As a children's clothing developer for a department store chain in OR, Seraph shifted gears to work at Sipapu Ski Resort and Espanola Public Schools here in NM. She loves that no matter how much she learns about wine, there is always something more to surprise her. She says "Vivac wines were the first NM wines i tasted that i really enjoyed! It was clear from the beginning that there was a lot of love thought that went into these beautiful hand-crafted wines. Getting to know the winemakers and their families cemented my admiration. Now i can combine my belief of supporting small businesses and eating locally, with my appreciation of wine!". Seraph also enjoys reading, baking, sewing and travel.