The grape grower that famous wineries built their reputations on
Great wine starts with great grapes and Ned has been working in the fields, perfecting his craft, since he was 9 years old.
Big brands pay top dollar for Ned's prized fruit and his expertise as a grape grower. But now when he has an opportunity, the first call he makes is to the Angels.
With Angel funding, we can work directly with the down-to-earth grape grower and cut out all the marketing gurus who usually stand between you and the farmer.Angels are changing all that
Ned Hill's Story
"I started working in the vineyards at age 9 and was driving tractor by age 12. In High School I realized I wanted to work with Dad and/or follow in his footsteps. This is what led me to NakedWines.com, and working first with Robin and then with Jacqueline, to make a wine under our own label, to have a more secure path for our fruit and to be able to put fruit that we were farming directly into our own label/bottle and reap the rewards/quality of all of our hard work.
My Father Steve moved to Sonoma in 1979 and started farming what were then some of the first grapes on the West side of the Valley. He 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 wine grapes.
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. Upon graduation I moved back to Sonoma and began to work with Dad on the Durell property and my family’s Parmelee-Hill Vineyard. I also began to manage vineyards all over the Sonoma Valley.
I’m proud to be very involved in community activism for the grape-growing community that I grew up in. I served on the board of the Sonoma Valley Vintners and Growers Alliance (SVVGA) for 6 years and was president for 3 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 bilingual “Life in the vineyard” book for school children.
I was also a member of Class 35 of a 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 so that my wife and I could form La Prenda Vineyards Management Inc., our own vineyard management company.
My philosophy in growing grapes is to let the site do i’s 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. Once upon a time, we tried in certain cases to manipulate the vines to give us what we want in terms of production and flavors, etc, however we’ve learned that this doesn’t really 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.
I also feel that things in the vineyard don’t need to be “perfect” for the wine to be perfect. Again, let the site express itself. We’ve had plenty of instances where grapes “just aren’t ripe enough” or “are hanging a bit too much crop”, etc, however when we’ve made the wine from it it’s fantastic.
I really enjoy seeing the growth and changes of the vines through the year, the feel of the changing of the seasons, the smell of freshly tilled soil or the first rain of the season. I love the equipment part of the job, there’s nothing like driving tractor to calm one’s nerves, it’s great enjoyment for me. I also like the challenge of the job. Every day, every year is different, we’re dealing with a living, growing product and the weather dictates everything we do. We can have a game plan in place for tomorrow, and when we wake up it can be hot, cold, raining, windy, etc. and we may have to change everything around based on that. In the end though, after harvest, come winter, we get to wind down and take some good time off. "
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