Meet the Winemakers
Winemaker, John Little, with help from his wife Jan, and his son John, are at the reins in all phases of the grape-growing and wine-making process.
John grew up on a farm in Port Angeles, WA, under the shadow of Hurricane Ridge. He spent his time milking cows (when he wasn’t sneaking off to do a little fishing in the creeks near the farm.) He was however, exposed to wine at a young age and enjoyed a sip or two of his grandpa’s homemade fruit wine on holidays.
John graduated from Central Washington University and taught school in Seattle for 9 years. But the big city was not where his heart lay. He realized that farming was the profession that held the most interest for him so he and Jan and their 4 kids moved to Eastern Washington where they purchased an apple orchard which he farmed for 10 years. During this time he also began experimenting with wine making.
After the orchard, John worked as head carpenter at Wenatchee Valley College and retired in 2004. Jan retired from teaching at the same time. They then moved full time to Rio Vista and became serious winemakers. John Jr. graduated from the viticulture program at Walla Walla community college in 2014 and has since moved home and is working as equally hard alongside his dad to make some of the best wine in the Lake Chelan/Columbia region. John is a believer that good wine is made in the vineyard and the wine’s ultimate potential comes from the winemaker’s skills and practices in the field. He does it all, from pruning to wine making and making all the important decisions that go with it.
Kelsey Chavez, John and Jan’s granddaughter graduated from Eastern Washington University with her business degree in 2014 and is now the Operations Manager for both of Rio Vista Wine’s tasting room locations. Aside from growing up around wine and the vineyards, Kelsey has a ten year history working within the wine industry. Managing Rio Vista Wines at the Cabin is Janice Vyborny of Manson, with a business degree and an extensive background in the wine industry, dating back to 2001, Janice is the perfect addition to Rio Vista Wines. She may not be related but she is definitely family. Together the two make a great team and can often be found at both the River and the Cabin.
Winemaker: John Little • Winemaker: John Jr. Little • Tasting Room Associates: Janice Vyborny, Kelsey Chavez, Karen Naranjo, Alexa Leedy