Hilliard Bruce Winery
Sta. Rita Hills AVA
One of the most cutting-edge and sustainably minded wineries in the Sta. Rita Hills
Hilliard Bruce offers a simply amazing setting for producing premium, Burgundian-inspired wines. The new Hilliard Bruce Winery is perched on a 101-acre ranch property on the western edge of the Sta. Rita Hills AVA. Here, a 21-acre vineyard is surrounded by extensive landscaping, an unusual collection of plants, a large, state-of-the-art gravity flow winery, and a beautiful oasis-like reservoir. It is a feast for the eyes, and the senses, at this rather impressive winery that’s starting to make big waves in Santa Barbara County.
Hilliard Bruce was founded in 2004 by husband and wife team, John Hilliard and Christine Bruce. Both John and Christine have rather diverse and extensive backgrounds and it was only after they met that they pursued their love of wine. The couple was inspired by the famed wine growing region of Burgundy, France, and thus chose to focus exclusively on Pinot Noir and Chardonnay with their namesake winery.
Prior to joining the wine industry, John Hilliard held a number of different careers with stints in maritime insurance sales and painting, before directing an arts organization, and finally taking over his family’s shipyard business, which he successfully expanded in just a few short years. Talk about diversity! His wife Christine is also incredibly well-rounded. An avid horsewoman and musician, Christine studied classical piano and contemporary jazz in college and went on to become a professional keyboardist. She also eventually started a small breeding operation for Arabian horses.
After John and Christine met, they discovered their shared love of wine and began taking wine tasting classes together at Rice University in Houston, Texas. They also explored their interest in cultivation and both earned certifications as Master Gardeners.
In 2002, they decided to make something of all these areas of interest and purchased the 101-acre Hilliard Bruce ranch in the Sta. Rita Hills. There, Christine could expand her business of breeding Arabian horses and together they could plant a vineyard of their own to make world-class wines. In 2004, they planted 21 acres to Pinot Noir and Chardonnay, using their own background as gardeners, along with key advice from some of the industry’s best viticulturists.
The Hilliard Bruce ranch also includes an extensive farm with vegetables, lettuces, herbs and mustards, palm, date and apple trees, an avocado orchard, and a stunning flower garden. It is truly a sight to be seen! Hilliard Bruce currently produces 1,500 cases of estate grown, SIP Certified (Sustainability in Practice) Chardonnay and Pinot Noir. Many of Hilliard Bruce’s wines have earned prestigious 90+ ratings, but with availability so scarce, these wines are nearly impossible to get your hands on. We hope you enjoy their latest, and one of their best, achievements to date. Cheers!
John Hilliard & Christine Bruce - Winemakers
After years of help from winemaker Paul Lato, John now oversees the Pinot Noir production, while Christine directs the Chardonnay winemaking. The couple furthered their winemaking expertise by taking courses at UC Davis’ Extension Program, the Allan Hancock Viticulture and Enology Program, and the Grayson County College Viticulture and Enology Program.
They are intimately involved with every step of running Hilliard Bruce Vineyard, from viticulture and winemaking to sales and marketing. The pride they have for Hilliard Bruce is evident not only in the winery’s pristine setting, but also in the award-winning wines they release each year.