Part Art, Part Science
Bill Harrison’s ancestors have been in the business of making fine wine since the early fifteen hundreds. Prior to 1902 the family winemaking took place in Italy. Now Bill Harrison continues the family tradition in the Napa Valley. Antonio immigrated from Italy in 1902 and was the first winemaker in California to hold a winemaking degree. He is considered to be one of the most important figures in California’s winemaking heritage. His daughter Conchita Perelli-Minetti married and had a son named William Moore Harrison (Bill), who continues the tradition of quality winemaking, now in the Napa Valley.
In 1993 Bill Harrison produced the first wine under his own label. Wm Harrison Vineyard and Winery carefully crafts classic wines that would make his forefathers proud.
Bill Harrison grew up at his grandfather’s winery in California’s San Joaquin Valley. After earning a Bachelors degree at the University of Santa Clara, and an MBA at U.C. Berkeley, he served for two years as an Armor Officer in the First Infantry Division.
No stranger to winemaking, Bill began working in the 1960s for the California Wine Association (CWA), a company owned by his grandfather and uncles. “Winemaking is part artistry, part science,” Bill says, “As luck would have it, I found a unique vineyard location in the Napa Valley which produces very good fruit, and makes very good wines.”
Chuck McKahn has been Winemaker at Wm. Harrison since January of 2016. He was raised in the sleepy almond farming community of Ripon, CA and a keen interest in winemaking and viticulture led him to Cal Poly San Luis Obispo, where he graduated in 2011.
Shortly after graduation he made the pilgrimage to the Napa Valley to work for the Chappellet family as a harvest intern. Hard work and a lot of luck kept him at Chappellet after the 2011 harvest to be their Enologist, and eventually their Assistant Winemaker. Prior to Chappellet he interned for McManis Family Vineyards and Tolosa Winery.
He lives in Napa with his beautiful wife, Brittany.
Providing guidance for the winery is our consultant, Phillip Titus. Famous as the Napa Valley winemaker at Chappellet Winery (as well as for his family label, Titus Vineyards), Phillip’s philosophy towards making each of the wines of Wm. Harrison Vineyard and Winery is simple — “Handle the grapes very gently, process as little as possible and use fermentation and cellaring techniques which preserve the varietal characteristics produced from the Estate vineyards. The Estate vineyards in Rutherford produce fruit which creates wines of great elegance and style,” says Phillip.
Napa Valley & Rutherford Dust
Our estate vineyard is nestled up against the eastern hills of the Valley. Overall, the Rutherford region encompasses the soils from three alluvial fans that are primarily gravelly, sandy and loamy. These fans are formed from shattered, well-bedded sandstone found on the hills above the valley. The soils at our vineyards are classified as Bear Creek Loam on the Napa Valley soil survey from 1935. Examining this map, one is struck at how few areas of this particular soil type there are present in the Napa Valley. Found 18 inches to 4 feet below the surface is a white layer of soil comprised of decomposed volcanic ash called tufa. We believe this rare soil combination results in wines we like to think of as having our own personal, unique identity.