Nelson Hill Winery: Anderson Valley Winery with Orange County Roots

Proprietors Greg and Barbara Hill divide their time between family who live in south Orange County and Anderson Valley in Mendocino County. In 1999, they bought a small ranch from the Pinoli family in Philo, close to well-known wineries including Goldeneye, Husch and Roederer Estate. They rebuilt one the valley’s oldest farmhouses, which became their home, and in 2001, planted a small vineyard.

The Hills acquired a taste for fine wine, particularly pinot noir, during their many trips required by their professions. Now both retired, Greg was an editor for the Wall Street Journal, and Barbara worked in the software industry. Their recent retirement has allowed them to embark on marketing their boutique wines, which are a source of considerable pride.

The vineyard is named Deep End Vineyard, referencing the more northern or “deep” and cooler end of the Anderson Valley where the vineyard is located. The Hills planted several Dijon clones and the Pommard clone of pinot noir, and produced their first commercial estate pinot noir from the 2007 vintage. Deny Dudzik, who worked as co-winemaker at nearby Handley Vineyards for 10 years, is the vineyard manager and winemaker.

I recently met the Hills locally and tasted the 2009 and 2010 Nelson Hill Deep End Vineyard pinot noirs. Both wines are limited in production to 300 cases. The wines were nicely crafted, offering plenty of cherry goodness, baking spice, a silky mouth feel, and a lively cherry-driven finish. Imagine a fresh cherry pie just out of the oven. The 2009 vintage wine has a subtle vein of savory herbs in the background and a little riper fruit profile, more black cherry than red cherry, reflecting the warmer 2009 vintage, but both wines are enjoyable.

Nelson Hill Anderson Valley Deep End Vineyard Pinot Noir is currently available at Best Wine Online in Santa Ana and Marbella Farmers Market in San Juan Capistrano. The Hills also offer the wines for sale ($42 a bottle) through their website at Tasting is available by appointment at the Hill’s home just west of the main thoroughfare in Anderson Valley, Highway 128, in Philo, 707-895-2555.


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