Senior Vice President Vineyard Operations
Hal Huffsmith was born and raised in Tulare, California back when the place could still be characterized
as a small farming community. He fondly remembers his formative years growing up in an area known
for its flat ground, hot summers and more agriculture than anywhere on earth. The town motto pretty
much says it all: Cotton, Beef and Dairy, that’s Tulare. After high school Hal traveled nearly 30 miles
north to attend Fresno State where he received a BS in Enology and finished his formal education at
Cornell with a MS in Ag Economics.
After a harvest as a chemist at Sierra Wine Corporation, Hal worked for the British wine merchants, John
Harvey and Sons at their wineries in Jerez, Spain (Harvey’s Sherries) and Oporto, Portugal (Cockburn’s
Ports). In 1974 he was at Ch. Barbie and Ch. LaCarelle on the right bank in Bordeaux. Once back in the
States, Hal spent a short time at Buena Vista and Stag’s Leap Wine Cellars prior to going to work for the
Trinchero family in 1976. He rose up through the ranks to become Senior Vice President of Vineyard
Operations in 2004.
“After I completed high school, it was time to get out of Tulare. The wine boom during the 1960’s
generated a lot of scholarship money for students in the Fresno State Enology program. I was fortunately
able to access some of those dollars to fund my escape from Tulare and my undergraduate education. I
never anticipated a career in winemaking, but during my tenure at FSC I studied with premium wine
pioneers like Steve O’Donnell, Jerry Luper and Marcelo Monticelli – men who shared a clear vision of
making high quality California wines. At first the wine business was just an exciting job that allowed me
to travel to some of the worlds most beautiful places. Then I tasted a red Burgundy given to me by a wine
merchant in San Francisco and a barrel-fermented Harbor Winery Chardonnay and realized that
memorable wines not only are sensually satisfying, they can also elicit an emotional response. From that
point on, I was completely hooked on the wine business.”
As Senior Vice President Vineyard Operations, Hal manages all aspects of farming and vineyard
development for the Trinchero properties including Main Street, Chicken Ranch, Mary’s Vineyard and
Vista Montone. Working closely with the winemaking team, Hal is constantly fine-tuning each vineyard
to grow fruit that is intensely flavored and expressive of variety and site.
Hal lives in Napa with his wife Jeanne and two cats. They have one son in college and a daughter and son
who have both graduated.
“Assuming the winemaker does his job, wine quality is all about site plus farming strategy and
“Sure you can taste wine quality – but, if you look at enough vineyards, you can also see the potential for
“We strive to achieve vine balance in all of our vineyards. You would think this simple goal should be
easy to reach - it’s not.”