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by Fred McMillin
Bill and Jill
The dominant figures in the evolution of the William Hill Winery ...
"Bill Hill turned the development and sale of vineyards and wineries into a rarely encountered art form." (California Wine Atlas, J. Halliday)
Jill Davis, Buena Vista Vice President-Winemaker, (pictured), is brought in to achieve the "goal of being the best." New-owner Allied Domecq provides her the tools, such as $2,500,000 worth of French oak barrels.
The Rest of the Story
Bill—William Hill was an agricultural investment adviser, not an enologist. Oklahoma born, Stanford educated (MBA), William Hill's research developed such a convincing story about the economic potential of hillside vineyards that he took his own advice. He bought what became the prestigious Diamond Mountain Ranch and after three years of development sold it to Sterling Vineyards. Similarly he bought, developed and sold another hillslide vineyard, Mt. Veeder, to the Hess Collection Winery. While such work continued, Bill also developed a large vineyard and winery above the Silverado Country Club named "Willian Hill." The first wines were produced in 1990, reviews were excellent, and so two years later he sold to Allied Domecq. That's where Jill comes in.
Jill—Lured away from Buena Vista, Jill happily found, that thanks to Bill's past work, she was working with "some of the finest fruit in the Napa Valley."
"Granite wrapped in velvet" is the way she describes her Reserve Cab, from their own "Silverado Bench" vineyard, as well as from those earlier Mt. Veeder vines...1996... $35.
The Reserve Chardonnay is also from Napa Valley grapes, grown way down south in the Carneros...1998...$22. To achieve top quality, Jill's producing only five wines, 2 Cabs, 2 Chardonnays and a Merlot. Also, she's reduced volume from Bill's 100,000 cases a year, since she's strictly a hands-on winemaker.
Four years ago Wineday gave a HIGHLY RECOMMENDED to the '93 RESERVE CAB. That year my panel also tasted one of the earliest Hills, the 1982 Reserve Cab. As I published in On San Francisco, it won Best of Tasting. William Hill knew what he was doing when he decided to start planting Cabernet vines on Napa hillsides back in 1974! (pictured).
Just the FactsWilliam Hill Winery
Wines—Chardonay, Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot Owned Vineyards—125 acres in the Napa Valley
Contact—Office of George Rose, Director of Public Relations, (707) 433-8268, FAX (707) 433-3538
About Those Hillside Vineyards—William Hill's first exposure to European winemaking came when the U.S. Army was providing him room and board. Later he had time for more detailed examination, and came up with the right answer. His Napa-purchase criteria: cool climate, rocky soil and HIGH ELEVATIONS. Jill is grateful!
Watch for some striking photos of the winery. George Rose's work with the lense has twice brought him nominations for a Pulitzer Prize.
03/29/00—Bland but Grand?
03/28/00—The Boss Blew It
03/24/00—A Giant in the Valley
03/23/00—Another Bulgarian Bargain
03/21/00—Feast of St. Benedict
03/20/00—A Divine Ice Wine
03/16/00—A Cab From Puckerville
03/15/00—The Peju Debut...Doom & Gloom
03/14/00—Birth of a Blanc
03/13/00—A Bargain Hunter
03/10/00—Hogue's in Vogue
03/09/00—Unordinary Fred Cherry
03/08/00—It Was Quite a Fight
03/07/00—The White Zin Cash In
03/06/00—Ah-Mah-Row-Nee is No Phony
03/03/00—A Medoc Moment
03/02/00—Take a Pott Shot
03/01/00—The Wrong Name: Women & Wine
This page created March 2000