Home Industry News Releases Aperture Cellars Announces Hillary Sjolund as Director of Winemaking

Aperture Cellars Announces Hillary Sjolund as Director of Winemaking

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Veteran Winemaker Will Have a Larger Hand in Leading Next Chapter of Acclaimed Winery

Healdsburg, CA, February 14, 2024 — Aperture Cellars, the renowned winery in Sonoma County dedicated to expressing the region’s potential in producing world-class Bordeaux varietals, has formally announced the promotion of Hillary Sjolund to Director of Winemaking. The first-generation winemaker has been with the winery since 2019 in the role of Associate Winemaker alongside Founder and Head Winemaker Jesse Katz; in this new position, Sjolund will assume increased responsibility in shaping the direction of Aperture Cellars, as well as Katz’s highly acclaimed Malbec brand, Devil Proof Vineyards, as it continues its international growth and constant pursuit of perfection. 

“My time with Aperture has afforded me some of the most rewarding, educational, and enjoyable work in my career,” notes Sjolund, “I’m thrilled that Jesse and the team have entrusted me with this new role, and that I get to have such a significant impact on the next chapter of a winery that’s on the forefront of pushing Sonoma forward and highlighting some of the greatest vineyards in the world.”

Sjolund fell in love with the culture of wine when she began studying enology at UC Davis in 1998, and was soon convinced to pursue a career in the industry. She began her professional work with Pine Ridge Winery in Napa, CA, in the fall of 2000, where she spent six years—three years as Assistant Winemaker—before relocating to Washington in 2006 to assume the position of Head Winemaker at DiStefano Winery. Under her leadership, the winery earned multiple 90+ scores from Wine Spectator and was named Wine Press Northwest’s ‘Winery of the Year’ in 2008. Soon after, Hillary became Associate Winemaker under Washington icon Charlie Hoppes at Fidelitas Wines and opened her own commercial wine laboratory, Enomama. During her time in Washington, Sjolund also launched her own label, Sonoris Wines, spent five additional years teaching online wine chemistry and intermediate winemaking courses across the country, and additionally represented Vicard Generation 7 cooperage in growing their barrel business with winemakers throughout British Columbia and the Pacific Northwest. Sjolund returned to California to join Aperture for the 2019 vintage, the same year the producer’s state-of-the-art winemaking facility opened for its first year of operations on the estate property. 

“Hillary is the leader and the head of the winemaking department; she has built an incredibly talented and passionate team who are all striving to make some of the best wines the region has ever seen,” notes Katz, “Over our last five years of working together, I have been incredibly impressed with the way Hillary has adapted to—and influenced—our winemaking program. We will continue to work very closely together on every aspect of wine growing and making, but the diversity and value of the work she does for the winery is deserving of the Director of Winemaking title, and I’m excited to have her on board to help steer the future of the winery.”

Aperture Cellars and Devil Proof Vineyards have been steadily expanding their reach in recent years through vineyard acquisitions, introduction of new wines, and increased distribution throughout the U.S. and abroad. In doing so, the team has set new benchmarks for the quality of the region’s wines, earning eight 100-point scores—including the first perfect score ever—for Cabernet Sauvignon and Malbec in the Alexander Valley appellation. Sjolund will continue to be based in Healdsburg and will be the primary caretaker for the estate winery. She will additionally be tasked with evolving the brand’s winemaking ethos, working with Katz on all vineyard decisions, blends, trials, and obstacles to push the limits of what the winery is capable of producing.

“Hillary and I have a very similar vision for what quality is in the vineyard and in the winery,” comments Katz, “She has already brought so much to the wines, and I’m excited to see this desire for perfection to continue to evolve and have this talented leader push the limits.” 

For more information on Aperture Cellars, visit aperture-cellars.com or follow them on Instagram @aperturcellars.

ABOUT APERTURE CELLARS

Aperture Cellars champions a range of stunning Bordeaux-style wines from Sonoma. Founded in 2009 by winemaker Jesse Katz, Aperture wines are crafted from unique, cool-climate vineyards in Sonoma’s top regions for Bordeaux varietals. Aperture controls 140+ acres of vineyards, in addition to their 32 planted acres on the estate site, specifically sourced for their unique terroir and soil composition. Wanting to craft wines on par with the quality and refinement that are so integral to a Bordeaux but with the richness and beauty that the best of California has to offer, Jesse set roots in Sonoma, believing it offers the best of both worlds: new world fruit and old-world elegance.

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