Hill Wine Co – Proprietor Jeff Hill graduated from Fresno state in 1996 and promptly spent the next four years walking vineyards up and down California’s Central Valley as a pest control advisor. He moved to Napa in 2000 and continued his vineyard education in the valley. He founded his vineyard management company in 2008, “Jeff Hill Vineyard Group” which today owns or manages over 500 acres in Napa County and 200 in neighboring Sonoma County.
This company manages vineyards from Carneros to Calistoga in the Napa Valley and as a result, in a relatively short amount of time Jeff has come to know Napa’s vineyard terroir in great detail. This insight helped when he decided to choose specific vineyards and blocks to make his own wine – their first vintage was from 2008.
In 2012 Jeff took over the winery and hospitality facilities of the Kent Rasmussen winery along the Silverado Trail in St. Helena. This property has significant potential for entertaining and hosting a number of tastings – some of which is already in place. Tastings are held in a picturesque house in the back of the property – they have plenty of place for tastings – out on the porch, private rooms and the main bar.
This scenic property is located along the Napa River and can truly be utilized for hospitality and wine education. The grounds of the property are picturesque – plans call for a Bocce Court, a short trail leading along the Napa River with outdoor artworks, a demonstration vineyard so once can visually see the difference between the the varietals they grow and learn about trellising and why they choose specific trellising for specific vineyards, varietals etc.
Hill Wine Co, as Jeff indicates, is about “good food, family, friends and wine”. By Napa standards, their wines are very reasonably priced. Jeff believes in offering a wine at a price that everyone can afford – yet at the same time over deliver on the quality.
Jeff makes wine for a number of clients as well as for himself. The use of concrete as a fermenting vessel plays into his winemaking style for his white wines.
Take the 2010 Sauvignon blanc for example. Fifty percent of the fermentation was conducted in a concrete tank specially designed for Hill Family (square on the bottom, and pyramidal shaped on top). Jeff tries to make a Sauvignon Blanc that is more tropical in nature – compared to say a leaner, more acidic wine. The initial aromas are certainly tropical in nature – papaya and passion fruit with flavors of passion fruit continuing onto the palate, noticeable mineralities and a nice balance between crispness and viscosity.
The 2010 Chardonnay also saw some concrete during its aging – it has a “clean” nose – notes of pineapple and a rich rounded mouth feel but with good crispness up front.
The 2009 Cabernet Sauvignon was made with fruit from Rutherford, Coombsville and Atlas Peak. With those names “behind” the wine you would think this would be a rather pricy bottle of Cabernet. Not so, Jeff farms all these vineyards and with access to the fruit for reasonable costs, his price is passed on to the consumer. This is certainly one of the better value Cabernets coming out of Napa.
The bouquet is appealing – ripe but elegant at the same time – refined with red both red and black fruit aromas – more black fruit as the wine opens. The entry is soft but the finish is not. Good acidity throughout – with a big finish, sizeable structure and lingering tannins for some time.
Nearly all their vineyards are farmed organically and an intertwining philosophy in all they do involves sustainability. Their hospitality center is run from solar cells on the roof, plans are in place to incorporate water reclamation on site for their local needs – thus saving thousands of gallons over time. Even their corks are organically prepared – rather than the normal sparging by sulphur dioxide, these corks go through an autoclave where the only treatment is by heat.
Hill Family donates 1% of their total gross profits to an organization called 1% For The Planet – funds from businesses who participate in this are distributed to organizations protecting the environment worldwide. Hill Family produces a number of labels – 2% of the proceeds from their “black dog” label are donated to The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA).
They produce a number of wines for all budgets – ranging from their “Little Rascals” to their more boutique label – the Appellation series – focusing on smaller production wines highlighting each one of Napa’s sub appellations.
Their normal tasting fees are waived for active military and they are pet friendly. For more information and to join their mailing list, visit: www.hillwinecompany.com