William Moore (Bill) Harrison’s ancestors have been making fine wine in southern Italy since the early 16th Century. In 1902, his grandfather, Antonio Perelli-Minetti immigrated to California and was the first winemaker in the state to hold a degree in viticulture and enology. He is widely considered one of the most prominent figures in California’s winemaking heritage. His daughter, Conchita was born in Torreon, Mexico during Prohibition, where Antonio established a large vineyard operation, and became the US liaison to Pancho Villa. Conchita later married back in California, and her son, Bill now continues the family tradition in the Napa Valley.
Bill Harrison grew up at his grandfather’s winery in the San Joaquin Valley. After earning a Bachelors degree at the University of Santa Clara, and an MBA at UC 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), an influential industry concern owned by his grandfather and uncles. “Winemaking is part artistry, part science,” he says, and “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.” In 1993, Bill produced the first wine under his own label, Wm. Harrison Vineyard and Winery, carefully crafting classic wines that would make his forefathers proud.
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.