1. First and foremost, what is your role with Hill Top Oaks and what does your position entail?
I would say I oversee (manage) the entire operation. From the vineyard duties, sourcing extra grapes, buying equipment or sourcing winery equipment, assisting with winemaking, planning for the inventory of bottles, corks, capsules, labels, yeasts, and chemicals. Scheduling seasonal crush dates, bottling dates, and grape press dates. Also, I help with a lot of the cleanup…
2. The name Mark Davis is well-known in and around the Sacramento community, primarily for your company’s work on some of the areas top restaurants, wineries, healthcare facilities, etc. Given the success of Sierra View, why is it you decided to break into the wine market?
Building several wineries over the past 10 years, I was always intrigued by winemaking and the wine business. In the summer of 2016, I ran into a contractor friend of mine (sometimes a competitor ) in Granite Bay who shared some of the wine he had made. I was very impressed with his wine. He encouraged me to join the Sacramento Home Wine Makers Group, which I did, to learn to make wine with his help.
3. Whether or not an individual is intrigued by and/or knowledgeable of the industry, it’s common knowledge that California is one of the world’s foremost producers and distributors of wine. That being the case, how has Hill Top Oaks approached marketing its existence and operation in this very saturated market?
We are not that far along yet. We only recently received our ABC license in the past 30 days to start selling wine. Our plan is to start out slow and just sell directly to consumers. We hope to stay a boutique winery producing great wines and create a following of wine customers.
4. Behind every label is a story, and the intricate, detailed labels that represent the Hill Top Oaks wine beg the question of their inspiration. How is it that the designs for your wines came about in the first place?
Back in the mid 60’s we were raising registered shorthorn cattle on our property. My mother came up with “Hill Top Oaks” as the name for our cattle ranch. When I was cleaning out our barn a couple of years back to make room for the winery I came across an old sign of our cattle ranch and I thought it would be appropriate to keep the same name as the cattle ranch. Each label has a story that we can share when people come to taste our wines.
5. Sierra View General Contracting is a proud family business. Will the same be said for Hill Top Oaks, or will it be more of a personal passion project of yours?
This is both a passion and a family affair. My wife, kids, and in-laws are all involved in the winemaking operation. Hopefully, one of our younger generation family members will develop a passion for winemaking and want to continue where we left off.
6. Hill Top Oaks provides a quaint and classic ambiance that many wine enthusiasts search for when visiting a winery. Is it your hope to always provide that very atmosphere, or do you have hopes of expanding your tasting room, production, and operations over time?
We have a very unique setting, being located on a hilltop with views of the Sierra Mountain Range on the east side and the Sacramento valley and coastal range line on the west side. We are in the middle of converting our sixty-year-old cattle barn into a production winery which will be spectacular once completed. I can confidently say that because I am married to the architect that has designed some amazing projects in the past. Our goal at Hill Top Oaks is to wow our customers with our wines, our winery, and our views and sunsets we can offer and keep them coming back for more.
7. Now, for the obvious question that’s on everyone’s mind; of the varietals Hill Top Oaks offers, which one is your most preferred, and why?
People ask me all the time; “What is your favorite wine you make?” That’s like asking, who is your favorite kid? We have four by the way. My first response is always ”my favorite wine is the one I’m holding in my hand”. I do prefer our Bordeaux style reds, Cabernet Sav., Merlot, and Cab Franc. They all have their own unique characteristics which I enjoy very much.