William L. Arbios - Winemaker

Bill Arbios happened upon his career in winemaking while pursuing his childhood dream of becoming a veterinarian at the University of California, Davis. He took a summer job at a veterinarian’s office where he soon realized that being a veterinarian was more emotionally challenging than he had expected and he risked caring for a backyard full of unwanted dogs and cats.

While surveying the University catalog, Bill noticed a class called “Introduction to American Wine.” Knowing that Davis is one of the best enology schools in the world, he thought that he might as well learn something about wine while trying to figure out what he really wanted to do. Soon after Bill began studying the subject, he fell in love with winemaking; he was thrilled that winemaking encompassed chemistry, biology, physics and bacteriology as well as art and creativity.

Bill graduated from Davis in 1973 with degrees in Fermentation Sciences and Bacteriology and immediately embarked on his career in the wine industry. Prior to launching his own label in 1993 with the creation of Arbios Cellars, Bill held winemaking and consulting positions for a myriad of well-known wineries in California’s Napa Valley, Sonoma County and Central Coast regions. His earliest experience in winemaking was in 1973 through 1976 at Chateau Souverain, where he was mentored by the dynamic Chateau Souverain owner Lee Stewart.

In addition to his winemaking and vineyard management skills, Bill has had extensive experience designing wineries from the ground up. Specifically, he designed and supervised the construction of Fieldstone Winery in the 1970s, and was an integral part of the winery design and development of the William Wheeler Winery and Lyeth in 1980.

In 1981 Bill joined Sonoma County’s Lyeth winery, first as winemaker and production manager and then in 1988 as winemaker and vice president. While at Lyeth, Bill pioneered Bordeaux-style blended wines in Sonoma County, which eventually set the standards for all subsequent “Meritage” wines in the North Coast wine regions.

In 1992 Bill was appointed winemaker for Napa’s Jarvis Vineyards, where he aided in the design and implementation of a state-of-the-art underground winery. Following Jarvis, Bill spent two years as winemaker for Chateau DeBaun in Santa Rosa, where he was responsible for winemaking, quality control and data tracking for custom winemaking for clients such as Robert Mondavi, Delicato and Sebastiani.

Although Bill enjoyed his successful career making wine for many prominent wineries, he occasionally felt restricted by the bottom line to which large wineries must adhere. In addition, this self-described “vagabond vintner,” was starting to yearn for roots. With the creation of Arbios Cellars in 1993, his dream of expressing his artistry through wine and creating something lasting for himself and his family was realized.

After nearly four decades of artful and innovative winemaking, Bill has achieved minor cult status and has earned the respect of his peers for his winemaking skills and vineyard savvy. He currently resides in Healdsburg in Sonoma County with his wife, Susan and his three sons. When Bill is not making wine, he enjoys scuba diving, cooking, music and gardening. He also has his pilot’s license and loves to fly.