Lady of the Sunshine

Edna Valley

Gina Hildebrand grew up on her family's biodynamic farm in the Sierra Foothills of Northern California. She studied winemaking at Cal Poly and then spent the next few years working with biodynamic winemakers in Beaujolais, at Burnt Cottage in Central Otago, with Josh Bergstrom in Oregon, and in Napa. In Napa she saw grapes being meticulously farmed, but picked late when they were super ripe, over-extracted during the winemaking, and manipulated to bring back balance. At this point she decided she should put her theories into practice and make her own wine! Gina settled on the coast of San Luis Obispo, farming and making wine from the Chene Vineyard, which she has converted to biodynamics. The focus is on organic and biodynamic farming, expressing the purity of the land, and making wine without additives or manipulation. Gina picks on the natural acidity of the grapes and is looking at flavour development. The ultimate goal is to make fun, fresh, wines built on the mantra, 'know your farmer'. Gina says: It wasn’t until I started farming that I felt like I truly connected to the real joy of making wine - spending every single day in the vineyard, tending to the vines, the soil, the weeds, the pests, experiencing the rain and sunshine and wind and heat - that I felt I truly understood how a wine can speak of place. It helped bring the idea of terroir full circle for me. Being a true vigneron, immersed in every stage within the cycle, has been what I have fallen in love with.