THE HILL FAMILY
One of the fundamental goals when forming Hill Wine Company was to raise the Hill children in the world of agriculture. Jeff and Rebecca wanted to not only supply a healthy, high quality product to the public, but to also provide their children the opportunity to learn to work hand in hand with mother nature.
Jeff and Rebecca are the proud parents of three beautiful children, each with a unique personality and energy.
Alexis, the oldest, was born 3 lbs 4.5 oz, full of spirit, vigor, and life. Tristan, the middle child, loves getting his hands dirty playing with tractors in the garden. The youngest, Peyton, is calm and easy going.
Hill Wine Company is a family business that Jeff and Rebecca look forward to passing on to their children with the hope of watching them continue the tradition by sharing it with the generations to come.
JEFF HILL PROPRIETOR
Jeff Hill has lived close to the earth his entire life. As a result, he has developed an approach to growing that respects the environment and produces high quality without sacrificing the integrity of the ecosystem of the farm. He is the embodiment of responsible agricultural stewardship, and his business reflects the care and appreciation he puts into his many agricultural pursuits.
It all started for him in high school. With a father serving in the military, Jeff, his mother and sister moved a bit. Somewhere along the way, he became involved in Future Farmers of America (FFA), an organization that provided the grounding he sought as his father sacrificed to serve the country and wasn’t at home. By the time he finished high school, Jeff knew he wanted to stay in agriculture. He headed off to Kings River’s College, later Reedly College, and studied general agriculture, animal science, and plant science. He earned three associate degrees, and also worked as a pest control intern.
Jeff then moved on to Fresno State College and studied plant science with an emphasis on agronomy and plant health. He earned a Bachelor of Science in plant science. He also expanded his practical experience working for eight years at a chemical company focusing on organics, giving him essential knowledge pertaining to the delicate balance between nature and man’s intervention to control nature. His expertise continued to expand as he took on positions as a pest control advisor for several years.
Ultimately, his experience prompted him to start his own company in 2008 called Jeff Hill Vineyard Group. Under Jeff’s direction, the company uses environmentally friendly farming techniques that take advantage of earth and moon orbits to maximize production, as well as other advanced techniques. His black Labrador “apprentice,” is constantly at his side, and is the inspiration behind the name for Hill Wine Company’s Black Dog Series.
Jeff is a Licensed PCA (Pest Control Applicator) and a Holder QAL (Qualified Applicator License) through the State of California.
REBECCA HILL CO-PROPRIETOR
Rebecca is the inspration behind the Hill wines. She grew up in a agricultural community where she participated in FFA and 4H. Rebecca competed in rodeo where she honed her passion for the land. After graduating Oakdale High School she moved to Fresno to attend Fresno State.
While at Fresno State, Rebecca majored in Agricultural Education with the hope of one day becoming a teacher. During her time in college, she helped found Sigma Alpha, a national agricultural sorority. With the same ideas as Aplha Gamma Rho, a national agriculture fraturnity she visited the house where she met Jeff and the rest is history.
When Jeff headed north to Napa, Rebecca continued to persue her studies, but later moved to Napa to join Jeff.
Once in Napa, she realized her passion for wine and love of talking to people about it. She worked for a hanful of wineries in both Napa and Sonoma, perfecting her palat and her idea of what her perfect wine would be.
After a few years of discussing the concept, the Hill Wine Company was started with the ideas and principles she learned during her studies and work: Provide a great product and experience, and do it for an exceptional price. With this concept, Rebecca assists with the development for the Jeff Hill Chardonnay.
Rebecca’s passion for wine is overshadowed only by her true love for Jeff and their three children. She devotes most of her time to taking care of the children, but with the future generation, she feels joy knowing they will have a great place to grow.
PHILIPPE LANGNER DIRECTOR OF WINEMAKING
Growing up in Africa, Philippe Langner was always fascinated with plants and how to grow them. His love of agriculture led him to the University of California, Davis where he graduated with a Bachelors degree in Agronomy and two Masters in Agronomy and Agricultural Economics.
After graduation, Philippe returned to his family in France and shortly thereafter started working at Chateau Clarke, a Rothschild property in Bordeaux. While at Chateau Clarke, Philippe fell in love with winemaking, a fascinating new world at the confluence of agriculture, science, art and business.
At Chateau Clarke, Philippe had the unique opportunity to work with two of Bordeaux’s most respected winemakers: Jacques Boissenot and Michel Rolland. Learning from these masters, Philippe participated in all aspects of viticulture and winemaking.
He also learned the art of developing and producing great wines. Furthermore, Philippe’s family ties to the Rothschilds allowed him to enter the closed world of Bordeaux’ great Chateaux Rothschild, which helped him develop benchmarks of excellence.
In 2000, Philippe further expanded his experience by spending a season of wine growing and harvesting in South Africa. In 2001, Philippe returned to California where he met the Sullivan Family in Rutherford, Napa Valley. He started work at Sullivan Vineyards during the harvest of 2001, and was promoted to viticulturist and winemaker in 2002. Beginning in 2008, Philippe became head winemaker for Hill Wine Company where he continues to lead the winemaking operations.
BRIAN BRAKESMAN ESTATE WINEMAKER
Brian was born and raised on Howell Mountain at Summit Lake Vineyards, a small family winery famous for its zinfandel. Working with his father, mother and siblings, Brian developed an appreciation for the art and culture of winemaking. “I learned every step of the winemaking process,” he says. “From harvest and barreling to blending and bottling, from the red soil on up. I developed, almost by osmosis, a deep knowledge of sustainable, responsible winemaking.”
Brian studied agriculture engineering at Cal Poly State University in San Luis Obispo, California. His intuitive grasp of the ways of wine confirmed when he found himself identifying wines by region without previously knowing where they were from. “It’s fun,” he says as he smiles, “being handed a glass of cab from Rutherford and recognizing the ‘dust’ of Rutherford.”
After graduation, Brian spent a year traveling. Among his adventures was a season playing rugby in New Zealand. During this time, his appreciation for the wines of the world evolved, and he realized what he was born to do.
He returned to the Napa Valley and was hired by acclaimed consulting winemaker John Gibson, formally of Stags Leap Wine Cellars and Vine Cliff Winery. Brian assisted John in making wines for Snowden Vineyards, Andrew Geoffery, and Salexis to name a few. “John taught me that attention to detail in the vineyards and the winery, no matter how small, all adds up to wines you can stand behind with pride.”
After apprenticing with John, Brian was brought on as Assistant Winemaker for Duckhorn Wine Company’s Paraduxx Winery. Under winemaker Bill Nancarrow’s tutelage, Brian learned the intricacies of winemaking, while upholding the high standards of Duckhorn Wine Company.
From there, Brian accepted the winemaker position at Ledson Winery in Sonoma, where he was able to elevate the quality of the wines by implimenting the unique enological insights his life experience has given him. Brian lives with his with wife and two children near the family vineyard on Howell Mountain.
DOG PERRO NEGRO
When Jeff moved to wine country, he was forced to leave his first loyal companion with a good family. In 2002, the time was right as Jeff and Rebecca were moving into a house of their own, so they purchased Perro Negro 2 as the second Black Lab for Jeff.
She was at Jeff’s side over the past years, walking the vineyards looking for the rabbits and pests that she could chase off of the property, making sure to do her part in tending to the vines.
She was a calm, lovable and loyal dog who was a dear part of the Hill family. She was the inspiration behind the Black Dog Series.
Sadly, Perro Negro 2 passed away in January of 2013. She will be sorely missed by Jeff and Rebecca, but even more so by the Hill’s children.
In March 2013, a new member of the Hill family was introduced, a cute and cuddly black Labrador by the name of Ele, to the great delight of all three Hill children.