Our Story

Without knowing the history of a region and its people, it’s impossible to make expressive wines

John Kinney
John Kinney

John Kinney

Founder & Director of Winemaking

I don’t think you choose to become a winemaker any more than you choose to become a scientist. It is something that grows within. I’ve always had an interest in food and wine and historical methods of preparation and presentation. Moving to California, I experienced the Bay Area’s revolution in food and wine firsthand, and was among the first to join the Slow Food Movement, which seeks to preserve traditional foods. Alice Waters, Jeremiah Tower, and Robert Mondavi were my heroes. It was easy to become enthralled with the creative energy of that time – it was like living during the Renaissance.

I had always been fascinated with Livermore Valley. From the beginning, Livermore had been noted for producing some of the finest Bordeaux wines in the world. However, by the end of the last century, two large wine companies dominated the region; there was little to be excited about in the wines. I felt driven to rediscover the fabled Livermore Valley.

Occasio was founded in 2007. Named for the Roman Goddess of Opportunity, she comes in an instant, and then is gone forever. Knowing that my greatest regrets were for opportunities not taken, I felt this was a defining name for a winery. My passion is to produce fine wine, but with an emphasis on a style unique to Livermore Valley alone. Not Napa, nor Paso, but Livermore Valley. I’m dedicating my craft to preserve and nurture the Heritage varietals of the Valley.

My Muse

It is said of Henri Jayer (the late Burgundian winemaker behind Vosne Romanée Cros Parartoux) that he created his wines in his head, years before he put them into bottle. I have been creating wines in my head for more than 40 years. It is only in the last decade that I have been actually putting these thoughts into the bottle. It is the beginning of what I hope to be a long voyage of learning and discovery.

I founded my winery with a keen desire to contribute to this Valley I have come to revere. Livermore Valley is my muse – I’m inspired to recapture the classic elegance of our Valley’s historic wines, wines that commanded the world’s attention and placed our valley among the finest winegrowing regions in the world.

My commitment to those varietals with over a century of excellence in this illustrious Valley is unwavering, my research never ending and the timing, well, she is elusive.

“Occasio aegre offertur, facile amittitur”

– to know that the right moment comes along rarely and is easily lost.


Craft Winemaking

For thousands of years, the crafting of wine was intricately linked to history and culture as much as climate and soil. It explains why foods and craft wines of a region pair so naturally.

Our wines are handcrafted. Time in the vineyard is extensive – walking, noting, analyzing, tasting, timing…

We hand harvest, we hand sort, we purposefully keep our production low to ensure nothing escapes our care. Our bottling line is so slow, you may even say we bottle by hand.

We craft less than 150 cases per varietal, marrying rich historical context with the nuances of our terroir. This approach maintains the utmost integrity of the terroir, and allows for us to create expressive wines with an indelible sense of place.