John Hilliard & Christine Bruce
Proprietors and Winegrowers
Husband and wife team, John Hilliard and Christine Bruce, grew up near one another in Houston. Christine was a horsewoman and a musician, and left Texas to study classical piano at Boston University before graduating from the Berklee College of Music. There she fell in love with the contemporary jazz music scene and began working as a professional keyboardist. Meanwhile, as a young man, John Hilliard studied finance and pursued a career selling maritime insurance, until deciding to follow his dreams of painting full-time. He was director and president of Diverse Works, a Houston-based arts organization, and a committee member for both the Museum of Fine Arts and the Glassell Artists in Residence Program. He later returned to manage his family’s shipyard business, where he grew the company from one to four shipyards in just a few years.
After they met, the couple pursued their passions, taking wine classes together at Rice University, and earning certifications as Master Gardeners from Texas A&M and the University of Arizona. Cultivation seems to come naturally to both of them, and it wasn’t long before they had not only a thriving garden with every possible vegetable that might grow in the Texas climate, but also a small breeding operation for Arabian horses at their ranch in Houston.
John and Christine left their home in Texas in 2002, after purchasing the 101-acre Hilliard Bruce estate in the Sta. Rita Hills. Christine wanted a ranch where she could expand her business of breeding Arabian horses, and John was open to new adventures after surviving two life-threatening illnesses. With a love of wine and an eye for precision and design, 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 viticulturalists. To further their winemaking experience, they enrolled in courses at UC Davis Extension Program, Allan Hancock Viticulture and Enology Program, and the Grayson County College Viticulture and Enology Program. Today John and Christine are intimately involved with every step of running Hilliard Bruce Vineyard, from viticulture and winemaking to sales.
Greg Brewer - Consultant
Having first met John and Christine upon their arrival to the appellation in 2002, Greg benefited from being associated with the vineyard development from its inception where he has always been drawn to their unwavering qualitative pursuit. Having initially started as a french instructor at UCSB, he has spent the entirety of his 27 year wine career in the Sta. Rita Hills. Established in 1996, Greg is also the winemaker for his eponymous label, Brewer-Clifton, which is similarly espoused to the appellation that he helped to map and establish in 1997 and which he has promoted around the globe ever since.
“I feel privileged to now be working with the Hilliard Bruce team as I have admired every stage of the evolution and resultant wines set forth by John and Christine. I have worked with virtually every vineyard in the appellation and this property is unrivaled in its diversity, energy and potential to create something very special from the vineyard to the facility and through our collective outreach.”