Our People (and wine dogs)

MEET THE GROWERS/OWNERS

Dr. Priscilla Higgins could easily be the heroine of an epic novel; an Isak Denisen (Karen Blixen) meets Madame Curie affair with the synthesized woman living harmoniously amongst the vines of Santa Barbara’s vineyards.   Of course, Cilla, as we know her, would have nothing of it; she is far too humble and private.

Born in Zambia, Cilla moved to Kenya at the age of eight.  Her father, Colin Trapnell, was an early ecologist in sub-Saharan Africa long before terms like ‘sustainable’ and ‘green’ were hip and cool.  Earning a Ph.D. in physics from Cambridge University, our underachiever later picked-up a Masters in International Education from Stanford University.  Her professional life centered on education and the computer and telecommunications industries both in the United Kingdom and in the valley to the north where they grow silicon ingots instead of grapes: Silicon Valley.

Roger and Priscilla Higgins (photo credit: Mark Robert Halper’s Photography Book Sunlight and Water)

Today, Cilla is a dedicated philanthropist focused on bettering the lives of less fortunate people in undeveloped and developing nations.  She is an avid hiker, global traveler, and enjoys a good laugh recalling the complexities of being one of five women in her class of 100 at Cambridge…over a glass of great wine of course.

Roger Higgins was born in the north of England – a Yorkshireman; not quite a Monte Python Yorkshireman, but a Yorkshireman nonetheless.  Too restless to wile away the hours at a drawing board with his degree in Aeronautical Engineering, Roger was seduced by the promise of technology and the excitement of business.

One of his early assignments included living in France for several years, resulting in fluency in the language and culture, as well as a lifelong love of well-made wine.  During the halcyon days of Silicon Valley, he worked with several start-ups in senior sales and operations capacities.  One of the reasons that he and Cilla chose to be among the Santa Ynez Valley wineries rather than those of Napa or Sonoma, was that the latter felt too mature.  As Roger says, “In hi-tech, one always wants to be part of a growing movement…Santa Barbara vineyards are youthful and growing.”

Roger’s youthful, entrepreneurial bent is evident in everything he does.  Cimarone has grown by leaps and bounds since its first release in 2008.  When not immersed in winery business, Roger golfs, squeezes in a game of squash, and travels far and wide with Cilla.

Together, the Higgins’ singular goal is to produce exquisite handcrafted wine from their carefully tended estate vineyard.

MEET THE WINEMAKER

Andrew Murray

Renowned Santa Ynez Valley winemaker, Andrew Murray, began crafting Cimarone’s wines with the 2011 vintage.  Consulted in the early stages of planting the Three Creek Vineyard, Andrew Murray has been a Higgins confidante and a Three Creek aficionado for years.  In fact, Andrew Murray Vineyards’ 2008 Syrah Three Creek Vineyard earned 94 points from Steve Heimoff of Wine Enthusiast magazine.

Having registered ten (10!) wines at 91 and higher in the acclaimed Wine Advocate 2011 review of Central Coast wines, Andrew’s expertise will be used to take Cimarone and 3CV to the next level of wine craftsmanship.  Andrew had this to say about his new role with Cimarone:

“I must confess that it is a bit daunting to walk into a winemaking role for a winery that is currently making such delicious wines.  My challenge will be to craft the wines in the style in which they’ve been made and to slightly tweak them over time, but only as needed.  I am also excited about the fact that the core of their wines are being crafted from Bordeaux varieties…a large departure from my day-to-day experience with Syrah (but I have been crafting Cabernet Sauvignon and blends in our winery for ourselves and others for nearly a decade).  I am confident that my twenty years of winemaking experience, combined with the impeccably farmed vineyard and the dedicated ownership at Three Creek, will yield some remarkable and delicious wines…stay tuned…”  We will.

MEET THE DOGS

Kali and Mac are our winery dogs.  They came along shortly after Roger and Cilla selected the Three Creek Vineyard property – one could say it ‘passed the sniff test’.  Born in 2003, these male litter-mates have developed distinct personalities.

Kali and Mac

Mac, a classic long-haired border collie, was given a fine Scottish name.  He is crazy for a ball, and like a good Scot, hangs onto it with his life – eating and sleeping with it.  He does not love junkets to the veterinarian’s office, as was well evidenced when he lifted his leg to ‘water’ the vet’s sofa.

Kali’s name means ‘fierce’ in Swahili, which he is not.  He tries desperately to speak like a human and has even perfected a human smile.  Though the beta dog of the pair, he’s got a bit of a racy kleptomania side to him.  He once stole the builder’s lunch when he wasn’t looking, and he delights in secreting away Mac’s beloved ball.

Together, they preside over vineyard and winery affairs with careful attention to detail.

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