We interviewed Lucas Heldfond, proprietor of Rocky Hill, and grandson of Richard Dinner, the famed namesake of Sonoma's Richard Dinner Vineyard, which is where the fruit that goes into his wines comes from. The Richard Dinner Vineyard supplies fruit to some of the best winemakers in California, perhaps none more notable than Paul Hobbs. The 2007 vintage of Rocky Hill's flagship wine, the proprietary red blend, received 93 points from Wine Enthusiast and the 2008 vintage received 94 points from Robert Parker's Wine Advocate.
What is your name and title? What is the name of your winery?
Lucas Heldfond, Proprietor at Rocky Hill.
How did you get your start in wine? When did you know you wanted to make it a career?
My family has been growing grapes for over three decades, so I have known that I want to work in wine since I was very young. I took a few classes at the UC Davis Extension while doing cellar work, including a harvest at the renowned Harlan Estate.
What is the worst wine you’ve ever made and why was it so bad?
The worst wine we made was our first white blend. I wanted to recreate what we did with our red blend and blend the different varietals grown at our vineyard. But instead of listening to the grapes and the wine, we forced a blend. We corrected this in the second year and now have a beautiful white blend, Buddy’s Blend – a tribute to my grandfather (Richard Dinner) who planted the grapes.
What is your favorite thing about being in the wine industry? Passion and, when at its best, community.
How do you see the wine industry changing over the next 5-10 years?
Authenticity trumping all else, and wine drinkers opting for wine that tells a story of a time and place, versus consistency and standardization.
Who or what are your biggest influences? My wife and children.
If you could meet any person, deceased or living, who would it be and why? Living, Jon Stewart. Deceased, Hemingway or Twain.
It’s an early Fall evening, sweater weather, what are you drinking? An Etna Rosso.
What’s your favorite drink other than wine? Ballast Point’s Even Keel and a good Negroni.
What is your favorite food? Like picking a favorite band: really anything Italian, Mexican, or off the grill.
Favorite band? That’s tough. Ella Fitzgerald, My Morning Jacket, Zeppelin, Gregory Issacs, Vampire Weekeend, Buddy Holly, Clash, Sturgill Simpson… I am happy to keep going.
Best concert you’ve ever been to? Aretha Franklin at Jazz Fest in the 90s. U2 in Italy in the early 90s. Mark Knopfler. Beastie Boys and Run DMC. Jeff Buckley at the Great American Music Hall. I am running into the same problem as the last question.
Most amazing place you’ve ever visited? Place you’d most like to visit that you haven’t yet?
Most amazing place was probably safari in South Africa and Botswana. Place I most want to go, Tofino or Buenos Aires.
Other than wine country, what is the best place for people to visit in California? The coast of West Marin – from Muir Beach to Point Reyes.
Article of clothing or accessory you can’t live without? Rainbow Flip Flops.
What is your favorite Hobby or pastime? Being on a trail or in the water.
What is your favorite book of all time? Why? Man's Search For Meaning. Because it shows that even in the deepest despair, we choose our own attitude and how we experience any given circumstance.
You can taste the very best wines from Rocky Hill and many other acclaimed small wine producers by joining one of Winestyr's premium wine clubs. To learn more about our wine clubs, click here.