Our History Meet the Team
In 1970, San Francisco firefighter Cecil De Loach and his wife
staked their claim in the wine grape business by purchasing 24 acres of old-vine Zinfandel in the Russian River Valley of Sonoma County. In the early seventies, the De Loaches decided to acquire additional vineyard land.
For several years they watched others make notable wine from their grapes before making the decision to produce wine under the De Loach label in 1975.
More than three decades later, Cecil and Christine sold that label and have continued their winemaking skills at the helm of a small family winery that employs a simple philosophy - craft exceptional wines, from the highest quality grapes, that people love to drink.
We consider each step of the winemaking
process an opportunity to showcase the distinctive flavors
contained within our carefully cultivated grapes. Every bottle of wine is a worthy representation
of the best effort from each and every person at Hook and
Ladder Vineyards and Winery.
OUR VINEYARDS TODAY
On 375 acres situated in Sonoma County's
Russian River Valley, our vineyards produce cool climate grapes
widely recognized as some of the finest in the world. Grape
growers of the early 1900's recognized the sites of our vineyards
as being uniquely suited for wine grape growing. Building
on their knowledge and experience, we have matched the soil
and climate of each parcel with the varietals most likely
to achieve its full potential.
Cecil De Loach, Owner and
For more than three decades, Cecil De Loach has farmed grapes in the Russian River Valley. He's made wine from his grapes for just as long. There are those who have invested more time in the grapes of the Russian River Valley and made wine here for longer. But few have made such and impact on proving this region's unqualified suitability for producing wines of world-class quality.
It was in the midst of a 16-year career as a San Francisco Fireman that Cecil discovered the Russian River Valley and grape growing. In 1970 he and wife Christine began looking for a vineyard where they could create a second career for themselves outside San Francisco.
They found Louis Barbieri's twenty-four acre vineyard west of Santa Rosa. The vineyard held vines planted in 1905 and 1927, but Barbieri couldn't entice his family to farm the vineyard. He needed a buyer and Cecil wanted a vineyard. This purchase would be the first of over 900 acres of Russian River Valley vineyards Cecil would farm over the course of the next three decades.
For the first six years Cecil sold his grapes to the Sonoma County Cooperative Winery in Windsor. At the same time he took classes in enology and wine chemistry at the University of California at Davis.
In 1975 he made his first wine, an old-vine Zinfandel. De Loach Vineyards would grow to more than 250,000 cases over the years and proved to be critical in introducing the name "Russian River Valley" to wine lovers world wide. The De Loach Chardonnays, Pinot Noirs and Zinfandels helped put the appellation on the map as one of California's premier growing regions.
In the course of developing De Loach Vineyards, Cecil would build a state-of-the-art winery, build a second full-functioning winery designed exclusively to produce Pinot Noir, help start the careers of a number of now well-known winemakers, and become a leader in the industry serving as president of The Sonoma County Vintners Co-op, The Sonoma County Winery Co-op, The Sonoma County Wineries Association and Russian River Wine Road.
Cecil retired from the San Francisco Fire Department in 1982 after a 16-year career. His time as a fireman was as influential to forming his character as nearly any other aspect of his life. He chose the name "Hook & Ladder Winery" for his latest winery project to honor his years on the fire truck.
By 2003, Cecil and family sold the De Loach Vineyards brand, which continues today. Cecil moved on to found Hook & Ladder Winery in 2004. It would be a smaller project that allows him to showcase the best of his Russian River Valley estate vineyards.
Jason De Loach was introduced to the wine industry in the customary way; physical labor. As a young man at De Loach Vineyards he eventually worked his way into the cellar. At the age of eighteen he became involved in harvest, crush, and eventually becoming the Production Coordinator.
After cutting his teeth at De Loach, Jason moved up to the title of Cellar Master for Balletto Winery, where he oversaw and operated a significant portion of the winemaking process. In his second out of three and a half years there, he also became the assistant Winemaker and lab technician under the well known Winemaking Consultant Dan Cedarquist.
Keeping with the tradition of his grandfather, Jason attended viticulture classes, and then took courses in enology from the University of California at Davis. After helping produce a number of gold medal winning wines at Balletto, Jason returned to his family roots at Hook and Ladder in 2006.
At Hook and Ladder, Jason began as Cellar Master and soon became Winemaker. Jason has been producing outstanding wines ever since; having his pick of the very best fruit from over 300 acres of vineyards farmed by his grandfather Cecil De Loach for over 30 years, Jason continues to generate exceptional wines.
On the rare occasions when Jason is not overseeing the winery, you can find him with his wife Nicole, son Lucas, and their German Shepard, Aspen. In the off season Jason will most likely be either flying real airplanes, or the models he builds at home, surfing, or training for his third degree black belt in Tae Kwon Do.
Born in San Francisco and raised
in Sonoma County, Hook & Ladder
Winery principal Michael De Loach grew up in the wine business:
he started working in the vineyard at age 11 and in the cellar
at 15. After college De Loach worked as Vice President, Sales
and Marketing at fledgling De Loach Vineyards, and completed
courses of study in winemaking at the Napa Valley School of
Cellaring, as well as the University of California at Davis
Agricultural Extension. He served as president of De Loach
Vineyards from 2001 to 2004.
Michael has appeared throughout the country on radio, television
and speaking engagements, and has been written about in Newsweek,
The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, The Los Angeles
Times, The San Francisco Chronicle, The Denver Business Journal,
The San Diego Tribune, The Austin Chronicle, Philadelphia Magazine, The Wine Spectator,
Wine and Spirits, Wines and Vines, Cheers, and The
Wine Enthusiast. He is now the president of Hook and Ladder Winery, and lives on the family's Los Amigos Ranch in Healdsburg, CA.
Joshua De Loach
Joshua De Loach first started working for his family at De Loach Vineyards repairing must pumps and maintaining work vehicles. After his time with cars and equipment, Joshua moved on to help out the international importing department at De Loach, but soon found one of his passions in high school: cooking.
While working in many upscale restaurants and catering at countless exclusive locations, Joshua also attended the Santa Rosa Junior College and California State University at Monterey Bay. Six years later he was offered the opportunity to once again work for his family, but this time for their new company, Hook and Ladder Winery
Joshua is now the Hook and Ladder Chef and Sales Manager, traveling the country, writing articles, creating tech sheets and updating our website. When he is not selling and making wine, or cooking, Josh can be found on his family’s Los Amigos ranch in Healdsburg playing guitar or drums, riding his bike, or hanging out with his cousins.
Kate Mann, a driving force behind Hook & Ladder's Sales & Marketing efforts, carries out multiple critical functions for the Hook & Ladder team. As our Marketing Director, she generates marketing collateral and press releases, coordinates a wide range of tastings and events, and works to build brand awareness through traditional and social media outlets. As our Sales Coordinator, Kate serves as the liason between our nationwide network of brokers and distributors and our sales team, coordinating schedules and travel, and maintaining local accounts.
Kate's exposure to the food and beverage industry began at an early age, as she was born and raised in Marin County among a family of chefs. She earned her degree in Communication Studies from California State University - Sacramento, with emphases in Marketing and International Relations, where she was a National Champion Debater and student body leader. After moving to Sonoma County, Kate served as Marketing Coordinator with Hyatt Hotels before joining the Hook & Ladder team. In her spare time, Kate can be found coaching volleyball, or putting her photography skills to use in the vineyards.