Hans Nef is an entrepreneur, engineer, developer, and restaurateur — but his greatest passion is wine. Growing up in a rural village outside Zurich, Switzerland, he gained an early appreciation for agriculture. Having studied civil engineering, Hans eventually founded his own civil engineering consultancy firm. He later became a collector of fine Bordeaux wines, and ultimately branched out into the wine importation business. As his interest in California wines intensified, he dreamed of establishing a New World winery dedicated to the production of distinctive estate-crafted wines. That dream was realized in 1996 when he acquired prime viticultural land in Paso Robles and established Vina Robles. “I want Vina Robles to express a unique balance of European heritage and American opportunity,” Hans says. “Both worlds bring value to what we do, and we endeavor to capture this distinction in our wines.”
As a young man, Hans worked on a diversified family farm near Zurich, Switzerland. He graduated from the Technical College of Agriculture in Zollikofen, Bern with a degree in Agricultural Economics, having already gained diplomas in Commerce and Agriculture. In 1982, he came to the United States to work for a farm management company, and later started his own agricultural consulting and management firm. Hans met Hans Nef in the early 1990s, and they eventually partnered in laying the agricultural and business foundation of Vina Robles. “I want Vina Robles to be known for producing distinctive, high-quality wines, and for providing excellent service to the guests who visit our hospitality center,” he says.
Kevin Willenborg is a versatile winemaker who has over 28 years of extensive experience working in key regions such as Bordeaux, Napa Valley, Sonoma, British Columbia's Okanagan Valley, as well as California's Central Coast. A graduate of University of California at Davis, his fast paced career started with an internship at Chateau Petrus in 1984, which provided him with a great introduction into the industry's traditions and philosophy. Ever since, he has enjoyed shaping world class wines from ground to glass. "Each wine has its own life. That life begins with the planting and development of the vines. It is then transferred from the earth through the vine as the grapes are harvested, crushed, fermented into wine and eventually bottled. The role of the winemaker is to respectfully steward this life with care and attention to detail.”
Sukhy grew up on his family’s farm in the San Joaquin Valley, where he helped grow almonds, raisins and wine grapes. As far back as he can remember, he has always been actively involved in farming. Sukhy later earned his degree in Agricultural Business and Farm Management from Cal Poly in San Luis Obispo. After working in the local wine industry for several years, Sukhy joined Vina Robles in 2003 and now oversees the management of our four estate vineyards. “By dedicating our finest vineyard blocks to the Vina Robles winemaking program, we can grow and select the very best fruit for our wines,” he says. “We are relentless in our pursuit of quality throughout the growing season.”
As a native of France, Marc has always been an avid student of his homeland’s culture of food and wine, a passion that ultimately led him to the wine regions of the West Coast and to Paso Robles. Marc today wields more than 20 years of experience in wine marketing and sales. Since joining Vina Robles in 2003, he has engineered exponential growth in the winery’s distribution channels and overall sales. “This is a very exciting time for both Vina Robles and Paso Robles,” Marc says. “People are really starting to take notice on a national and international level.”