ARTISAN | BUSINESSMAN
Behrens & Hitchcock
A basement, in Humboldt County, outfitted with just two dairy tanks, was the humble beginning of our winery. Of this tiny, dug out space, Les assured Joe Bob that, "We have all the room we will ever need."
However, the roots of Behrens & Hitchcock are found in Folie Douce, the award-winning restaurant Lisa Drinkward and Les Behrens launched in 1991 in Arcata, California. While Lisa was developing an incredible, French-inspired menu, Les was busy cultivating a superb wine list and cellar which eventually received the Wine Spectator's Award of Excellence. In the course of creating the wine list, Les met many winemakers and received encouragement from several to begin making his own wine. The idea, which seemed almost nonsensical at first, quickly began to take root in Les' mind.
As customers of Les' frequent winetastings at Folie Douce, Joe Bob and Lily Hitchcock learned of Les' winemaking idea and that Les was trying to raise the startup capital. Almost immediately, the wheels began to turn in Joe Bob's mind.If Les was really crazy enough to make wine, Joe Bob thought he just might be crazy enough to join in the venture. Joe Bob's background in business management - both in the corporate world and more recently as a business consultant and tax preparer - was the perfect complement to Les' winemaking. Joe Bob became General Manager of the winery and, together with Lily, handled the finance and administrative side of the business while also jumping into much of the "dirty work" of making wine under Les' winemaking direction.
The inaugural 1993 crush produced 175 cases and was indeed a labor of love. The two families quickly developed into a team dedicated to the common goal of making small batches of high quality red wine. Over the next three years, the winery expanded to 750 cases per year and took over a new building at Les and Lisa's home as well as a lot of Joe Bob and Lily's house which was used for case goods storage. In August of 1997, we decided it was time to give up our day jobs and move the winery from Arcata to the Napa Valley. We rented a winery east of Napa where the winery grew even larger to 3,500 cases, but something was still missing. What we really wanted was a winery of our own. After looking at every winery, shack and vacant acreage available in the Napa Valley, we finally found our home on top of Spring Mountain. Les designed the winery, and together with his son, Sean, and lots of helping hands, built the winery in possibly record time as the 1999 harvest was only a few months away. The 1999 crush took place in an incomplete facility with only a generator for electricity. There have been significant additions, including two caves, as production expanded, but this always-under-construction winery, with our crazy dog and beautiful views, continues to be the beloved home of our passion for making small batches of handcrafted wines.