Tom & Holly Cooper, owners
Tom and Holly Cooper fell in love with the varieties of Southern France’s Rhone Valley when they shared a bottle of Chateauneuf du Pape on their honeymoon. Years later, Holly decided she wanted to live on a hill and convinced Tom to move to his family’s cattle ranch in the foothills of the Sierra Nevada. She got her hill and he got to fulfill his life long dream of planting a vineyard.
Carrie Bendick (Cooper), co-winemaker
"I love living and working within the vineyard; seeing the full transformation of grapes to wine." Carrie appreciates the long history of winemaking and uses traditional winemaking techniques choosing not to over-manipulate the grapes. In this way, the varietal flavor of each grape comes through in the finished wine. Working in a small family winery allows her to oversee every aspect of the winemaking, beginning with the treatment of the grapes in the vineyards. Quality grapes are key to great wine and Bendick feels fortunate to be able to work with the highest quality El Dorado fruit. This hands-on aspect of winemaking is what attracted her to the wine industry.
Carrie grew up in Davis and after completing a BA in Romance Linguistics at the University of Washington and exploring other career paths, she turned her attention to wine. She began working and learning under a winemaker in El Dorado, the same area where her parents had planted their vineyard. Together, they created Holly's Hill Vineyards, focusing on Rhone-style wines. Shortly after moving to the area, Carrie met her husband, Josh Bendick, who was also in the wine industry and who has become an instrumental part of the winemaking and sales team at Holly's Hill. They have three daughters, turning Holly's Hill into a multigenerational affair.
Bendick has traveled to the Rhone wine region of France to learn more about her craft from long time producers. The region is significant to her because the estate vineyard is planted exclusively to varieties that originate from the Rhone Valley. Carrie continues to educate herself with UC Davis extension courses in viticulture and winemaking and through communication with other California Rhone producers. Motherhood occupies most of her time outside of the winery, but when she has a chance, Carrie likes to head outdoors to run, hike or mountain bike with the family. She also serves on the board of El Dorado County Ag in the Classroom.
Josh Bendick, co-winemaker
Josh took an introductory winemaking course at UC Davis while studying for a degree in International Economic Relations. He enjoyed the class, finding it a breath of fresh air and felt he had finally found his calling. He ended up taking courses in viticulture (grape growing) in between politics and economics classes to satiate his desire for wine knowledge. He then began fermenting everything in sight. Nothing was safe--apples, blueberries, strawberries…and grapes too! In fact, he was making wine before he was twenty-one.
While still in school Josh's first experience with a commercial winery was at Winters Winery where he had extensive first hand education in both siphoning and sanitation. After graduation, and a couple home winemaking vintages of UC Davis Cabernet grapes, he got a job on the weekends at Boeger Winery in the tasting room. It was at this time when he met his wife and current boss, Carrie Bendick. He was pouring for Boeger and she for Windwalker at the Amador County fair wine tasting. A mutual friend introduced them and they were married seven months later. She was at the time just starting a new venture with her parents Tom and Holly Cooper named Holly's Hill Vineyards.
Shortly after being married he took a job at Perry Creek Vineyards as Assistant Winemaker. About a year later Josh was hired at Holly's Hill to run the tasting room. The job expanded to include local sales, marketing, as well as helping in the cellar.
Josh is Past-President of the board of directors for the Rhone Rangers. He is also on the Bond Oversight Committee for the Gold Oak School District and is an active member of El Dorado Search & Rescue.
Marin, Isabel and Esme Bendick
The girls enjoy welcoming new friends to the tasting room and playing with their cats and dog. The girls ride the forklift with Dad and look forward to fall when they help 'sample' the grapes. When not in school, they love to play board games, read and play rec sports. Soccer is the family favorite!
"Navi" and her two sisters were born from a cat rescued from Montana's wildfires.
Drake is a rescue dog from Sacramento's Homeward Bound