our story so far
My parents Steve and Gwen moved to Sonoma in 1979, when I was three, and started farming what were then some of the first grapes on the West side of the Valley. Dad worked for a lifelong family friend named Ed Durell, and through his 30 years of managing the Durell Ranch it gained a world renowned reputation as a supplier of quality winegrapes.
I started working in the vineyards at age nine and was driving a tractor by age 12. In High School I realized I wanted to work with Dad and/or follow in his footsteps. I went to Cal Poly, SLO and got a major in Fruit Science (the closest thing they had to viticulture at the time) and a minor in Plant Protection. I was named the “Outstanding Fruit Science Graduate” for that year. I hold my PCA (Pest Control Advisor) license which I was able to obtain with that schooling.
Upon graduation I moved back to Sonoma and began to work with Dad on the Durell property, my family’s own Parmelee-Hill Vineyard, as well as began to manage properties for others in the Sonoma Valley.
During the 2000’s I was heavily involved in community activism for the grape-growing community. I served on the board of the Sonoma Valley Vintners and Growers Alliance (SVVGA) for six years and was president for three years. My greatest accomplishment there was the great growth and success of our “Community Action Committee”, which spread the word of the positive impact of grape growers and wineries through things like scholarships and a “Life in the vineyard” book for school children.
I was also a member of Class 35 of the prestigious California Ag Leadership program, and in 2005 I was named “Outstanding Young Farmer” by the Sonoma County Harvest Fair.
In 2008 I stopped working full time for my Father and Erika and I formed La Prenda Vineyards Management Inc., starting our own management company.
My philosophy in growing grapes is to let the site do its own work. Each site has a specific variety that will be optimal for it. I’ve tried to use my experience in growing up here in Sonoma to plant the right variety for the site, farm it in a healthy, sustainable manner, and let the vines do the talking. We’ve tried in some cases to manipulate the vines to give us what we want in terms of production and flavors, etc, however from experience learned that that really doesn’t work. Use the expressions that a site will give you, each one will be unique and each one has a place in the nuances and winemaking that will come from it.
We are proud to farm for estate wineries such as Schug, Nicholson Ranch, Roche Family, Bartholomew Estate, Bennett Valley Cellars, Parmelee-Hill and Fifth Hill, where we get to focus on quality and follow the entire process from grapes to bottle. In 2013 we launched our wine collection to the world and have continued to develop our craft with the help of our award winning Winemaker Mike Cox and present them here today for your pleasure.
Ned Hill & Family