In 1943, Fred McCrea and his wife, Eleanor, stumbled onto a 168-acre plot of land hidden away on the slopes of Spring Mountain, which they purchased and later named Stony Hill Vineyard. With their love for French white wines combined with the ideal growing conditions of their property, the McCreas built the first post-prohibition winery in 1951 and released their inaugural vintage the following year. Stony Hill’s terroir and climate mirrored that of Burgundy, made of volcanic mountain soil with a limestone sub-layer and a northeast-facing hillside, making it perfect to craft their preferred style of Chardonnay. Some would later refer to Stony Hill as “America’s greatest white wine estate.”
Over the years, the McCreas planted more European white varietals including Pinot Blanc, Johannisberg Riesling and later Gerwurztraminer and Semillon. It wasn’t until 2009 that Stony Hill began producing red wine made of estate-grown Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot.
In 1972, Fred brought on Mike Chelini as his assistant winemaker and protegee, who would later take over after Fred’s passing in 1977. Since then, Chelini carried on McCrea’s legacy and philosophy of winemaking for over four decades, maintaining the “big little winery” and selling primarily through a hand-selected list of buyers.
In 2020, under new ownership of the Lawrence Family, Stony Hill Vineyard welcomed its newest winemaker, Jaimee Motley. Motley caught the attention of Stony Hill’s managing partner Carlton McCoy, Jr. who admired her style of winemaking, referring to it as “ethereal” and believes she will continue the legacy the McCrea family began so many years ago. Motley shares, “I look forward to maintaining a deep reverence with the land, honoring the past, and embracing the future of Stony Hill.”