After Stevenson, Sydney ’12 and Greg ’12 Hill followed their shared passion for wine and the complicated and rewarding process of producing it to Boulder and beyond. Ultimately, their journey took them to Tira Nanza in Carmel Valley. This month, they will release their spring wine offerings. We checked in with them to see how life on the vineyard is going.

[This interview has been lightly edited and condensed for length and clarity.]

Q: Since your Stevenson days, and, then, next at Boulder, you have been on a shared journey that has allowed you to follow your passion for wine and travel this path together. Tell us a little about this experience.

Sydney and Greg Hill ’12: When we graduated from CU Boulder, Sydney took a job in advertising as a jr. art director in San Francisco and I started working as a winemaking intern at a few local Carmel Valley wineries. That experience landed me an awesome cellar job in Livermore. After about a year and a half there, I took a seasonal job at a winery in New Zealand. It was at that moment that Sydney fatefully asked if they were looking for another worker. It turns out that they were and we set off for Marlborough, New Zealand together. Sydney instantly fell in love with wine production and was completely undeterred by the 12-hour days and constant stickiness from crushed grapes. When we returned, we moved to Napa as I took a job in the cellar at Staglin Family Vineyards and she took a job as director of digital marketing at Cline Cellars. After a few years in Napa, we were struck with a desire to return to the Central Coast and began looking for job opportunities. We had a shared dream on the backburner, to one day combine our talents and start our own winery label but we thought it would be years and years down the road. When the pandemic hit, we were presented with the opportunity to purchase this ranch with our family and start Tira Nanza. We took the leap which has been nothing short of a wild ride but we are learning so much every day and absolutely love what we do.

Q: During your high school careers, were there any moments that stand out as beneficial in preparing you for where you are now professionally? Were there any teachers who you found to play impactful roles? Any classmates with whom you have worked with professionally over the years?

S.H. & G.H.: One of the biggest takeaways from our time at Stevenson was the importance of community and connection. Building and maintaining a tight knit community where you have an array of personalities, ideas, and experiences to connect with and gain inspiration from is something that we have carried with us through life. The fact that so many of our closest friends still are classmates from Stevenson is a testament to the strength of the community built on campus.

Q: Have you had the opportunity to meet any Stevenson winemakers or vineyard growers along the way? Some that come to mind locally are Matt Shea ’89, Kirsten McIntyre ’05, and Josh Pierce ’89. Can you tell us about any experiences you have had?

S.H. & G.H.: Matt Shea is actually our next-door neighbor here in Carmel Valley! As well as just being an awesome guy, he has been an incredible source of local knowledge on the specifics of farming in Cachagua. We had no idea he was a Stevenson grad when we started out at Tira Nanza but it has been great getting to know him and being able to pick his brain about his experience farming here.

Q: The name of your winery has a special story behind it. Would you tell us a little about it? And, have there been any specific moments when “tira nanza” meant a lot to you?

S.H. & G.H.: Our name, “Tira Nanza,” is somewhat of a family motto coming from Greg’s mother’s side of the family. It’s an Italian dialect saying that roughly translates to “pull forward.” For our family, it has always been a message of perseverance and making the most of whatever challenges life sends your way. Anybody in the agriculture industry has an intimate understanding of how important those virtues can be. There are always challenges beyond your control and it is all about how you are able to respond to and overcome them. The phrase “Tira Nanza” took on especially poignant meaning when the Carmel Fire raged through our ranch just two months after we started farming it. It was the ultimate test of “pulling forward” and looking back on it, we’re incredibly proud of what we have achieved in the three years since then.

Q: As you look forward, what are you excited about professionally and/or personally?

S.H. & G.H.: Looking forward, we are super excited to see and experience the results and changes spurred on by the work we have done both in our vineyards and around our ranch. Our conversion to certified organic farming and our commitment to treating the whole ranch as a larger ecosystem where things like biodiversity and soil health are just as important as crop yields have completely reinvigorated this property. It’s been amazing for us to see older vineyard blocks and sections of land coming back to life. We also have a few projects on the horizon including planting an organic market garden and building a short-term rental on the property. In addition to our tours and tastings that we hold here at the vineyard and winery in Cachagua, we are now looking to open up a tasting room in Carmel within the coming year. Stay tuned!

Q: And lastly, for current students and younger alumni who are interested in pursuing a career in winemaking, what advice would you offer them?

S.H. & G.H.: Our biggest advice would be to get into the field and get your hands dirty. In a lot of ways, winemaking is like cooking: theory and background knowledge are important, but they are no substitute for actually doing the work. If you come into this business with a strong work ethic and a willingness to work hard, you will find it to be one of the most open, collaborative industries you can imagine. Work a harvest as an intern; by the end of it, you will either never want to work in wine again or you will fall in love with this industry as we have and never be able to picture yourself doing anything else.