Growing up outside of L.A. County in the San Fernando Valley, Duff Bevill, founder and partner of Bevill Vineyard Management, was exposed to agriculture at a young age. By his early teens, he knew that he wanted to pursue a career in the industry. He studied general agriculture at Pierce Community College in Los Angeles and Shasta College in Redding. At age 22, he moved to Healdsburg to work with Joe Vogensen, founder of Vogensen Irrigation, in Dry Creek Valley. For the following two years, he was a foreman on-site for developing new vineyard blocks for his clients. Today, Duff and his wife, Nancy, own and lease 120 acres of their own vineyards in the Dry Creek and Russian River valleys. They have four (grown) children and live in the heart of Dry Creek Valley, surrounded by vineyards.
What is something people may not realize about the life of a farmer?
Three things: A farmer works all year for one paycheck, and it is never, ever guaranteed. Every year, we dance with Mother Nature, and she always leads. Farming isn’t rocket science folks—it’s harder.
What do you like to read?
Monthly periodicals on subjects I’m not familiar with. I just received my first issue of Archeology. The most recent Scientific American article on the origin of mammals on Earth is also a fascinating read.
Do you have any superstitions?
Not particularly, but it seems to be true that what goes around, comes around.
What is your favorite genre of music?
I learned to play folk music by ear as a teen. Now I like vintage ’50s and ’60s country western, and Mississippi and Chicago blues from the same or earlier periods.
What was your first job ever?
My first paid job that I can remember was watering 10 to 15 newly-planted shrubs along the side of my parents’ home in Southern California. I was paid 25 cents each week to do this watering. I soon figured out that if I hooked up three hoses to three faucets, I could cut the time by two-thirds and still get paid the same amount. It turned out to be a strong first lesson for a 10-year-old in economics and time management.
What’s your favorite activity to do with friends or family?
As many family get-togethers as can be arranged at our home near Healdsburg. Playing catch with my grandsons as long as they are interested. I have a teen grandson who is now interested in cars, so we have had a project or two together.
What do you daydream about?
All kinds of things—no limitations!
What is your favorite meal?
I’ve never been too focused on food. I appreciate well-prepared, multi-course meals lasting all evening at a special restaurant on a special occasion, but also enjoy a bowl of a spicy, hearty Southwest chili.
What do you love most about farming and agriculture?
It has to be one of the most rewarding professions in life. Initially, you take the chance, plant the crop (vines), and then nurture the vineyard until it comes into production. Then you continue caring for it year after year. It kind of speaks to you. You know you’ve done well when the vines do well.