Since the 1970’s, Bob Tillman has looked for the site where he could plant a world-class vineyard. He didn’t find that property until the Tillman family moved to the Central Coast of California and tasted the wines coming out of Paso Robles. Finally, he and his wife Lynn knew they were in the place where they could produce the kind of wines they love to drink.
In 2003, after an extensive search for the ideal location, Bob found the beautiful hilltop property on Adelaida Road in Paso Robles that would become Alta Colina Vineyard. Nestled high in the rugged coast range mountains, Alta Colina Vineyard’s natural beauty soothes the spirit with its 360 degree vistas and calming seclusion.
To achieve great wines from this spectacular site, Bob assembled a world-class team: John Crossland, Dean Harrell, and Steve Vierra from Vineyard Professional Services planned, planted, and farmed the vineyard; Scott Hawley consulted on the winemaking and the crucial decision on when to harvest; and Bob makes his wines in space leased from Alex and Monica Villicana. Collectively, this expert group has over 100 vintages under its belt!
Finding the incredible site and assembling the expert team were only the first steps in preparing the property for planting. First, the narrow track up the mountain had to be expanded to a workable agricultural road—a non-trivial task given the very steep terrain. A high volume water well was drilled at the bottom of the mountain and piping installed to carry water over 500 feet up the hill where a reservoir holds the vital irrigation supply. Then the soils were ripped to allow free vine rooting, the drip irrigation system constructed, and finally the trellis was put in place.
After more than a year of site preparation, the first vine was planted on April 23, 2005 by Ann Walsh, Lynn’s mother. That vine was Petite Sirah in vineyard block 7—now named Ann’s Block to commemorate the event. By the end of May, 40,773 vines were planted, consuming 31.1 acres broken into 15 blocks. Four Rhône red wine varietals and 4 white Rhône varietals are planted. Most are sourced from a French government nursery (the so-called ENTAV selections) with 1 block coming from John Alban’s vineyard in the Edna Valley, located in Southern San Luis Obispo County.
The first three growing seasons were dedicated to vine development. The focus was on developing robust plants with extensive root systems while carefully pruning to shape the above-ground canopy for optimal fruit production. In 2007 the vineyard produced Alta Colina’s first crop—tiny by commercial standards, but adequate to give the first taste of what is to come. As we had hoped, the wines are excellent—the future looks very bright for Alta Colina Vineyard & Winery.
Bob Tillman is the man behind Alta Colina. After 35 years in the high-tech business world, Bob launched Alta Colina in 2003. From the beginning, the enterprise was dedicated to nurturing world-class wines from a magical site tucked into the Coast Range west of Paso Robles. But it’s really more than creating world-class wines—Bob also pulled together a group of top-notch people that have formed an exceptional team with collective experience stretching over 3 generations. It’s not just the vineyard site that is magical at Alta Colina.
Lynn Tillman is the one-woman support staff for the vineyard and winery operations — and she supervises Justin, the harvest intern.
EMMA SWAIN – CEO, ST. SUPERY – NEW VEGGIES & VINO PAIRING
Emma Swain is the CEO of St Supéry Estate Vineyards & Winery. She received her Bachelor of Science in Agriculture and Managerial Economics from the University of California, Davis and is a Certified Public Accountant. Emma has worked in the wine industry for more than 20 years. She began her career with Niebaum-Coppola Winery and served as the Chief Operating Officer at Sebastiani Vineyards prior to joining St. Supéry Estate. Emma currently serves as a board member for the Napa Valley Vintners, as well as serving on multiple sub-committees. Emma also volunteers locally with a number of environmental, educational and health-based charities. She is an avid runner and has several half marathons under her belt of accomplishments.
ABOUT VEGGIES & VINO PAIRING:
- Available to all winery visitors by appointment, $40/guest
- Call 707.963.4507 or visit www.stsupery.com to reserve the experience
- Features four of our Napa Valley estate wines and four vegetarian small bites
- Each pairing features seasonal produce from our Culinary Garden and Dollarhide Ranch
- Changes regularly based on what’s coming out of the gardens
- Pairings are developed by our Sommelier and Guest Experience Manager, F. Scott Tracy
- Current pairings include:
- 2012 Napa Valley Estate Virtú (Semillon-Sauvignon Blanc blend) and bruschetta with kale and hummus
- 010 Dollarhide Estate Vineyard Malbec and beet, turnip and potato salad
- 2012 Napa Valley Estate Élu (Cabernet Sauvignon dominant blend) and eggplant parmesan
- 2010 Rutherford Estate Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon and mushroom caps stuffed with burrata drizzled with truffle oil
- All guests are treated to full recipes for each pairing so they can bring a taste of Napa Valley home to their kitchens