Meet the Owners

Chris Padberg – Co-Owner/ Co-Winemaker/ Sommelier

Chris, an artist at heart, and his older brother Jesse were born and raised on an apple farm in Dixon, New Mexico. After graduating from Taos High School in 1996, 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 completing his degree in History, Chris worked on learning the craft of winemaking and securing the Vivác Winery licensing alongside his brother. Continuing education has been a sincere focus for Chris and he received his Sommelier Certification from the International Wine Guild in 2006 while also working toward his Winemaker’s Certification from UC Davis. Chris, his wife Liliana, his brother Jesse and his brother’s wife, Michele, opened the winery tasting room in Dixon in the fall of 2003. While he and his brother manage the vineyard and do all the winemaking together, Chris’ mastery of crop management and canopy pruning along with a love for the art of winemaking, ensure that their Estate Vineyards bring forth International Award Winning grapes every year. He lives with his wife, Liliana, son Maddox and daughter Chablis in Dixon. He enjoys biking and running with his son Maddox who competes in triathlons and now also with his daughter Chablis. Chris is an avid sailor and each year he and his family indulge their love of travel by seeking out a new adventure in a far off destination.



Liliana Padberg – Co-Owner/ Co-Business Management Team/ Sommelier
Chocolatier/ Owner of Ek.Chuah Chocolates

Liliana was born and raised in the beautiful city of Aguascalientes, Mexico. She worked as a model and studied photography in Mexico prior to moving to the USA in 2001. While assisting in the formation of Vivac Winery, she learned  the art of painted mold chocolate making and studied photography at the University of New Mexico-Taos. Liliana created her phenomenal business Ek.Chuah Chocolates in 2002 and completed her Sommelier Certification at Esencial Sobre Vinos, Tecnica de la Cata, in Argentina in 2006. Chris, Liliana’s husband, her brother-in-law Jesse, and his wife, Michele, opened the winery tasting room in Dixon in the fall of 2003. The business management partnership with her sister-in-law Michele, allows Liliana to focus on the vital internal structure of the company centered on over seeing our tasting rooms. Her mastery of management includes developing and overseeing a cohesive team of staff  that reflect the Vivac Winery branding, coordinating popular weekly tasting room events, developing exciting tasting room marketing campaigns and evolving our diverse wine clubs as they grow. Liliana lives with her winemaker husband Chris, her son Maddox and daughter Chablis in Dixon. She enjoys assisting her son Maddox with his pasta company “nefertiti” (available at Vivac Winery tasting rooms) and teaching Chablis photography skills to support her  interest in animation and film making. Teaching both her kids to read and write in spanish, not just speak fluently, is a current goal. Each year Liliana and her family revel in their love of travel by seeking out a new adventure in a far off destination and visits back home to Mexico.



Jesse Padberg – Co-Owner/ Co-Winemaker/ Advanced Sommelier
President of the NM Wine Association

The ever inquisitive Jesse and his younger brother Chris were born and raised on an apple farm in Dixon, New Mexico. After graduating from Taos High School in 1994, Jesse attended the University of Colorado at Boulder as a Spanish Literature major and graduated in 1998 after a study abroad in Chile. Returning home with a love for wine, he worked on learning the craft of winemaking through UC Davis’ Winemaking Certification program and worked toward securing the Vivác Winery licensing alongside his brother. Jesse received his Sommelier Certification from the International Wine Guild in 2004, his Advanced Sommelier Certification in 2005 along with several Master classes. Jesse, his wife Michele, his brother Chris and his brother’s wife, Liliana, opened the winery tasting room in Dixon in the fall of 2003. While he and his brother manage the vineyard and do all the winemaking together, Jess’  mastery of advanced chemistry brings precision to their winemaking that allows their wines to become International Award Winners every year. He lives with his wife, Michele, and daughter, Denali Dae in Dixon. He enjoys skiing and playing poker with his daughter Denali and is an avid hunter. Each year Jesse and his family bask in their love of travel by seeking out a new adventure in a far off destination.



Michele Padberg – Co-Owner/ Co-Business Management Team/ Advanced Sommelier
International Wine Judge

Michele was born and raised in Taos, New Mexico, an arts community north of Dixon. After graduating from Taos High School in 1996, she studied at The School of The Art Institute of Chicago, and spent an additional 3 years as a B.F.A. Theatre major at the University of Colorado at Boulder. She returned to New Mexico and in 2001 assisted Jesse, his brother Chris and his brother’s wife, Liliana, open the winery tasting room in Dixon in the fall of 2003. Passionate about the world of wine, she received her Sommelier Certification from the International Wine Guild in 2004, her Advanced Sommelier Certification along with several Master classes in 2005 and became a worldwide International Wine Judge in 2018. The business management partnership with her sister-in-law Liliana, allows Michele to focus on the vital external structure of the company centered on the winery’s brand development. Her skills in the wine industry allow her to develop and coordinate exciting events and partnerships, give wine history lectures and informative wine appreciation classes, craft a diverse social media presence and manage a distribution team that get the Vivac wines out into the marketplace. Michele is a freelance writer and was the owner and fromagere of “Kissable Cheeses”  from 2014-2018. She enjoys assisting her daughter, Denali Dae, with press for the publication of his books (‘How Relative is Relativity’ available on Amazon.com, under the name Denim Padberg, ‘Tumbling Down’ is soon to be released) and attending cultural events with her. Denali is Twice Exceptional (Gifted and Dyslexic) and Michele has nurtured his ability to self advocate and teach other students with challenges to do so as well. Each year Michele and her family gratify their love of travel by seeking out a new adventure in a far off destination.