Napa Valley's Hidden Gem - Hill Family Estate Winery
“Great wines start in the vineyard” – a truth universally acknowledged.
There’s only so much manipulation that a winemaker can have on the overall wine, great wines start in the vineyard, and with over 25 years growing grapes for some of the most prestigious wineries in Napa, Hill Family just gets it.
Hill Family Estate Winery is the product of the love for beauty of Napa Valley and respect for the individual characteristics of the microclimates in the area. Doug and Darci Hill settled in Napa Valley after being enchanted by the fog rolling over the hills of Napa Valley, an impression echoed on the Hill Family Estate logo. Doug Hill has been managing vineyards in Napa Valley since 1981, and has managed and grown grapes for wineries including: Silver Oak, Duckhorn, Ramey, Stag’s Leap Winery, Quintessa, Robert Mondavi, Raymond Vineyard, Mumm, Caymus, and Cakebread.
The Hills planted their own vineyards in the Los Carneros and Oak Knoll districts of Napa, becoming premier producers of Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon. The Hill Family –including children Ryan and Carly, help manage the estate and the winery. Alison Green-Doran joined the winery in 2001 and has been with Hill Family Estate Winery ever since. After earning a degree from UC Davis and being the head winemaker for Lewis Cellars, Doran spent time in Alsace, France, and studied under the reknowned winemaker Andre Tcheliestcheff.
Brand ambassador and family friend of the Hills, sommelier and featured guest at the Hill Family Estate Tasting, Wes Kollar, reveals that one of the most intriguing and distinguishing facets of Hill Family Estate is that “[Hill Family Estate] Winery is always thinking outside of the box.” They were pioneers for planting different varieties of grapes in Napa, including the Spanish grape Albariño.
Kollar has been with Hill Family Estates since they first started selling outside of the tasting room in 2004, when he and Ryan Hill hit it off at a trade show. Kollar has sold every vintage of Hill Family Estate and has seen the winery grown –from producing two wines to twenty-four. With a history of cultivating grapes for illustrious Napa Valley wineries, Hill Family Estate Winery only reserves a fraction of premium fruit for themselves –producing a mere 14,000 cases over 24 wines, these wines over-deliver.
Not widely publicized is the family’s commitment to celebrity collaborations and passion projects. The popular Barrel Blend is a result of a collaboration between Hill Family Estates and pro surfer Kyle Knox. Knox took part in creating the wine and then helped partake in the staining of surfboards. Staining various objects is a point of focus for Hill Family Estates, with staining collaborations from surfboards and Fendi guitairs to baseball bats. A recent collaboration is the outcome of a collaboration from former 49ers and current Denver Broncos tight end Vernon Davis, who helped create a custom blend and also provided the artwork for his wine “Love.” Hill Family Estates also puts an emphasis in family and compassion; over the Labor Day weekend they donated 50% of their online sales to the JJ Watt Foundation to help victims of Hurricane Harvey in Houston.
Hill Family Estates may fly under the radar, but with the knowledge of viticulture, courtesy of proprietor Douglas Hill, and viniculture, courtesy of Alison Doran, these wines are not to be missed.
Third Street Wine Shop’s distinguished guest, Wes Kollar, owner of Decant Wine Events, graduated from Sonoma State University and is a personal representative for not only Hill Family Estate Wines, but also for Master Sommelier Michael Jordan’s (no relation to basketball legend hahaha) limited production Word wines (which you can find a few of under the Disney label – “Olelo.” Kollar, himself, has worked his way through Sonoma County, from working the cellars at DeLoach to various vineyards, tasting rooms, and labs in Sonoma, Santa Rosa, and Napa. Wes Kollar has worked all facets of the wine industry and is a wealth of knowledge for interested parties.
Wes Kollar will be representing the humble Hill Family Estates Winery today for our limited tasting of Hill Family Estate Wines, he may even be bringing a few extra goodies, including a wine stained surfboard (Kyle Knox’s Barrel Blend inspired) to MLB stained baseball bats and perhaps a few exclusive Hill Family Estate goodies to sip on.
Our Hill Family Estate Tasting is a singular tasting of an unpretentious Napa Winery, led by a hand selected brand ambassador and sommelier, Wes Kollar. Our packaged tasting includes a tasting of five wines, including their premier Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon, and light appetizers provided by Third Street Wine Shop and the Corner Butcher Shop. Participants in the packaged tasting will also receive bottle discounts on wine purchased that evening. Interested parties, please call for any available tickets.
Visit Hill Family Estate Winery, in the heart of Yountville, close to some of the most distinguished restaurants on the west coast, any day from 10 am to 6 pm. Groups of 7 or more, please call the winery to discuss tasting options (707.944.9580).