Fred and Eleanor McCrea first stumbled across the property that would become Stony Hill Vineyard in the early 1940s. By 1943, they had made the rugged hillside spot on Spring Mountain their home. Fred and Eleanor loved the white wines of Burgundy, and while they would have planted the entire property to Chardonnay, viticulture advisors from the University of California recommended they diversify. They planted the first vines on the property in 1948 to Chardonnay, Riesling and a small amount of Pinot Blanc, followed a few years later by fields of Gewurztraminer and Semillon. The 21st century has seen the addition of Cabernet Sauvignon and a small amount of Syrah.
The first Stony Hill harvest came in 1952, and the wine was snatched up quickly by family and friends. By 1954, every bottle was sold via mailing list, with a waiting list growing by the day. Eleanor ran the business end of things and Fred made the wine, developing Stony Hill’s signature restrained style and minimalist approach. Upon Fred’s death in 1977, his assistant and protégé, Mike Chelini, picked up the winemaking mantle and has carried on Stony Hill’s winemaking tradition for now over 40 years.
After Eleanor’s passing in 1991, her son Peter and daughter-in-law Willinda assumed day-to-day management of the winery. And in 2011, their daughter Sarah joined the family business. Sarah’s entrepreneurial spirit, along with a commitment to maintaining Stony Hill’s reputation for wines of impeccable quality and longevity has brought the winery into a new era of renewed respect for Old World style winemaking with success and grace.