Agricultural interests come naturally to Rick Small, raised as part of an Eastern Washington wheat farming family. He attended Washington State University, earning a Bachelor of Science in Agriculture from that institution as well as studying in the school of Architecture, before returning to Walla Walla and the family business. Beginning in the mid-70's he developed a personal interest in winemaking with his friend Gary Figgins who was to found Leonetti Cellar.
In 1976, Rick began planting vines on former wheat ground on the family farm in Woodward Canyon. he and his wife Darcey Fugman-Small founded Woodward Canyon Winery in 1981. Rick is essentially a self-taught winemaker, reading numerous texts and learning by doing. His approach to winemaking is that of artisan and he believes that the key to even higher quality lies in the vineyard. With Kevin Mott's employment as Winemaker in 2003, Rick has turned his primary attention to hands-on oversight of viticultural techniques at the Woodward Canyon Estate Vineyard, as well as Champoux Vineyard in which the family is a partner, as well as long term contracted vineyards.
Rick was President of the Walla Walla Valley Wine Growers Association, the precursor to the Walla Walla Valley Wine Alliance, when the growers petitioned and received approval from the federal government for the Walla Walla Valley appellation which was granted in 1984. Rick has served on the Washington Agriculture and Forestry Education Foundation Board of Directors as well as the Washington Wine Institute and the Washington Wine Commissions. He is currently chair of Walla Walla Valley VINEA, the Winegrowers Sustainable Trust. Anyone who has attended Holiday Barrel Tasting knows that Rick is an avid baker. He is also a bike rider and enjoys making the summer commute to the winery.