- August 4, 2017
Name: José Luis Lopez Rivas
Number of years at Hafner Vineyard: I started in 1975 with the very first vineyard manager, Dan Rotlisberger. In 1979 I left and worked at a lumber company, but came back once in a while to help part-time. On April 25, 1992, I joined the Hafner Vineyard team full-time. I am celebrating 25 years with the vineyard this year! I have spent time working off and on at Hafner Vineyard for over the 42 years, and I’ve actually worked with every one of the vineyard managers.
Department/Role: Tractor Driver/Trellis Aficionado/Expert Posthole Rebuilder
What’s something most people don’t know about you? I enjoy grafting trees. I tend to the fruit trees here at Hafner Vineyard but also at other people’s home around the county. I have an apple with five different varieties on it and a peach tree that produces peaches the size of grapefruits.
Where did you grow up? Palo Alto, Michoacan, Mexico.
Favorite local restaurant: Taco Grande in Healdsburg for the tostados, and I also like Chinese food.
What’s your perfect weekend day look like? Fishing with my family. In a normal day, I catch about 20 fish, mainly bass that are 14 – 15”. We took my grandson fishing for the first time recently, and he actually caught three!
How else do you spend your free time? I’m in the garden. I have 110-120 trees at my house, so that keeps me pretty busy.
Favorite Hafner wine (yes, just one!): I actually haven’t had any alcohol for 25 years, but I would have to say Cabernet. My family and friends are always excited when I receive my allotment from the winery. It’s their favorite, so it’s mine too. Always nice to see everyone happy.
What’s the best part of being part of the Hafner Vineyard team? I have a good boss and team. We have family roots here. I work with my brother, Gerardo, every day and over the past four decades, four of my brothers and three cousins have worked here.
What’s the most exciting time of the year at Hafner Vineyard? Pruning. I prefer cane pruning over spur pruning because I think it is better for the vines.
What’s the best part of living in Sonoma County? The climate first and foremost, but also there are many lakes for fishing and plenty of fruit trees for pruning. The trees do very well in this climate.
Personal motto or saying that you live by: We come here to work, so let’s work hard.
Favorite day of the year: My birthday because I always take it off to go fishing.
What’s a memory of when you started working at Hafner Vineyard? In the 70s, I lived on the ranch with my brother. Dan, the vineyard manager, had an old GMC truck that he would spend hours working on it after he already put in a full day in the vineyard. I was always surprised by that.
What’s the craziest/funniest job you’ve done here? When we were replanting the Kellogg block in 1996, we couldn’t get in with the tractor because it had rained so much. We needed to get the posts in for the vines, so we had to carry all the posts on our backs. 138 posts! I haven’t forgotten that.