|Owner(s)||Christine Hilliard, John Hilliard|
|Link to this site|
The proprietors, Christine Bruce and John Hilliard, have a colorful background. Christine worked as a professional keyboardist for various pop bands for 11 years and then founded HB Arabians, a breeding operation for Arabian norses. John managed a successful shipyard business on Brady Island in Houston, Texas. Because of the challenges of successful winegrowing in Texas, they moved to California and together, bought the 101-acre Hilliard Bruce property in 2002.
The estate 21-acre vineyard was planted beginning in 2004 to Pinot Noir and Chardonnay. The vineyard is located on Highway 246 directly across from Dos Hermanas Vineyard (formerly Ashley's). The vineyard had 15.7 acres of Calera, Pommard, 115, 667, 777 and "828" (later grafted over to Chardonnay), 2,420 vines per acre, and 5.3 acres of Chardonnay (clones 76 and 96). Yields are very low (1lb per vine in 2010). Certified Sustainable by SIP. The vineyard is meticulously farmed by owner John Hilliard and noted viticulturist Jeff Newton.
A new LEED-certified winery was finished in time for harvest 2014. The facility includes an underground cellar, a demonstration kitchen and dining room and a tasting room.
The estate Pinot Noir was first offered in 2008. The owners are well-educated winemakers with John focusing on Pinot Noir and Christine on Chardonnay.The wine is sold primarily online through the website and via a mailing list. Tours and tasting by appointment only.
2012 Hilliard Bruce Sta. Rita Hills Chardonnay
600 cases, $45. Clones 76 and 96. Barrel fermented (30% new French oak), full malolactic fermentation. · Light golden straw color in the glass. My favorite Chardonnay tasted at WOPN. Invigorating aromas of lemon-lime, apple and subtle nutty oak lead to a highly flavorful core of white stone fruits, lemon oil and caramel flavors. Slightly creamy, with a lasting finish fueled by mineral-driven acidity. Score: 92-94. Reviewed April 4, 2015 ARTICLE »
2011 Hilliard Bruce Earth Sta. Rita Hills Pinot Noir
13.75% alc., 240 cases, $45. Clones “828” and 777. Aged 18 months in 75% new French oak barrels. · Medium reddish purple color in the glass. Expressive nose that becomes more appealing over time in the glass. Aromas and flavors of dark red cherries and blueberries with an earthy tone and hints of toasty oak and sassafras. Lightest in weight of the three 2011 Pinot Noirs, but equally flavorful with plenty of bright Sta. Rita Hills acidity in the background. The wine displays impeccable balance and the evolution over time in the glass suggests age ability. Score: 91. Reviewed January 20, 2014 ARTICLE »
2011 Hilliard Bruce Sta. Rita Hills Chardonnay
14.3% alc., 475 cases, $45. Clones are 76 and 96. Aged 16 months in 30% new French oak barrels. · Light golden yellow and clear in the glass. Vibrant aromas of lemon, lime and walnut lead to a discreetly concentrated core of lemon curd, yellow peach and subtle butterscotch flavors. Nice fullness on the palate with a slightly creamy texture, and a long, soprano finish. I like this wine for its restraint and seamless quality. Score: 90. Reviewed January 20, 2014 ARTICLE »
2011 Hilliard Bruce Sky Sta. Rita Hills Pinot Noir
13.57% alc., 420 cases, $55. Clones include Calera, Pommard, 115, 667 and 777. Aged 18 months in 50% new French oak barrels. · Moderately dark reddish-purple color in the glass. The aromas of fresh black raspberry, spice and subtle oak really draw you into the glass. There is plenty of sappy fruit concentration like the Sun, but there is more vibrant acidity and resulting juiciness. The core of darker berry and stone fruits is flatout delicious and very plush on the palate. The finish is strikingly endowed offering waves of bright fruit returning over and over for an encore. This beauty blurs the line between wine and heaven. Score: 94. Reviewed January 20, 2014 ARTICLE »
2011 Hilliard Bruce Sun Sta. Rita Hills Pinot Noir
14.2% alc., 529 cases, $55. Clones include Calera, Pommard, 115, 667 and 777. · Moderately dark reddish purple color in the glass. The aromas arrive over time in the glass, offering a blend of boysenberry jam, plum, black grapes and spice. The sappy mid weight core of black cherry and dark berry is strikingly vivid and pure, set off by an appealing earthiness. Everything is in balance with modest tannins and bright acidity. The fruit-driven finish is noticeably long and intense. This is highly enjoyable juice. Score: 92. Reviewed January 20, 2014 ARTICLE »
2010 Hilliard Bruce Sun Sta. Rita Hills Pinot Noir
14.9% alc., 600 cases, $55. Can’t get Paul Lato Wines? Try Hilliard Bruce where Paul is the consulting winemaker. The wines are not identical to Paul’s but his imprint is evident. Hilliard Bruce planted 21 acres of Pinot Noir and Chardonnay on 101 acres starting in 2004. The vineyards are Certified Sustainable and are located off highway 246 near Clos Pepe and directly across 246 from Dos Hermanas Vineyard (formerly Ashley’s). Aged in 50% new French oak barrels for 16 months. · This wine is beautifully composed offering enticing aromas of ripe black cherries, dark berries and cardamom spice, and luscious flavors of the same fruits with added notes of plum, cola and vanilla. Moderately rich with tannins that threaten to take over now but tend to mellow over time in the glass. The silky texture is very seductive. This wine is still a bit closed and will benefit from a few more years in the cellar. Very good. Reviewed October 26, 2012 ARTICLE »