Winemakers, Enologist, Vineyard Experts
Jon Held graduated summa cum laude from California State University, Fresno with a degree in Enology–the science of winemaking. While attending CSUF, he was a two-time recipient of American Society for Enology and Viticulture scholarships and was also awarded the Alpha Zeta Agriculture Honor Fraternity Outstanding Senior Award.
My biggest goal is to see Stone Hill repositioned to the grand stature it held in the years prior to Prohibition.” – Jon Held
After graduation, Jon honed his winemaking skills with an apprenticeship at the Hans Schlatter Weinbau Kellerei in Hallau, Switzerland. This was followed with a position as assistant winemaker for Andres Wines Ltd., which was one of the largest and most successful wineries in Ontario, Canada.
In 1983, Jon returned to his family’s Stone Hill Winery as Vineyard Manager. Today, Jon serves as the winery’s Vice President and General Manager and directly oversees the production and operations aspects of the company. In 1994 Jon’s expertise at vineyard management was recognized at the Wineries Unlimited Symposium where he was named Winegrower of the Year.
Jon is actively involved in several industry and civic boards and organizations. He has served multiple terms on the Missouri Grape and Wine Advisory Board. He served for nine years as the Midwestern representative on the Eastern Viticulture Consortium Regional Guidance Committee, which administers USDA funding for viticultural research.
Dave Johnson graduated from Michigan State University in 1970 with a Bachelor of Science degree in Biology. He worked five years at Ford Hospital and Research Institute in his native Detroit, before returning to Michigan State in 1975 to pursue a master’s degree in the Grape and Wine Program. As Dr. G.S. Howell’s research assistant, Dave found himself heavily involved in viticulture research, the operation of Michigan State’s pilot winemaking facility and cooperative research works with several Michigan wineries. Making wines from new grape varieties at the university’s research center became his No. 1 priority.
It’s been gratifying to receive so much attention on wines like Norton and Vignoles, but I’m very happy with the success we’ve had on our sweet wines…. I pay as much attention to my Concord and Pink Catawba as I do the Norton-and I think it shows.” – Dave Johnson
After obtaining his master’s degree in 1978, Dave, upon Dr. Howell’s strong recommendation, traveled to Hermann, Missouri, where he became winemaker for Stone Hill Winery. In the past 30+ years, Dave’s winemaking expertise and penchant for perfection has earned him and Stone Hill Winery the industry’s highest accolades. The most awarded American winemaker outside of California, Dave was named Winemaker of the Year in 1994. In 2002, he received Missouri’s Pioneer Award for his outstanding service to the state’s grape and wine industry. Dave’s dedication to his craft is clearly evident in his ability to produce quality award-winning wines consistently year after year. Stone Hill Winery routinely ranks among the top awarded wineries in the nation and has earned seven Missouri Governor’s Cup awards since 1994.
When he’s not working, Dave pursues his two favorite hobbies-golf and scuba diving-with the same tenacity that makes him one of the best winemakers in the country.
Shaun Turnbull hails from Cape Town, South Africa. He studied winemaking at Elsenburg Agricultural College where he received his diploma in Cellar Technology in 1999. Teaching the science of winemaking since the early 1900s, Elsenburg College has earned a reputation in South Africa for being the best practical school of winemaking in the country. After completing his studies, Shaun furthered his practical education by taking harvest internships at WineCorp in Stellenbosch, South Africa, Jefferson Cellars in Charlottesville, Virginia, and Heitz Cellars in Napa, California.
Wine is made in the vineyard. The winemaker is basically a surrogate parent who nurtures what he receives from the earth into its final creation with the help of science and modern technology.”
– Shaun Turnbull
Before joining the winemaking staff at Stone Hill Winery in October 2005, Shaun served as winemaker at Slaley Winery, in the famed Stellenbosch area of South Africa. In his few years at Slaley, Shaun built a solid reputation for turning out award-winning wines from classic Vinifera varieties. Before Slaley, Shaun was winemaker for Lammershoek Winery in Malmesbury, South Africa.
Originally planning to study engineering, Shaun’s attention quickly turned elsewhere when his stepfather introduced him to wine and the possibility of a winemaking career. It was the idea of combining Mother Nature and the everyday senses of taste and smell with science and technology that intrigued him most. In winemaking, Shaun feels he is creating a piece of art that not only expresses a bit of his own individuality but also invites endless conversations from others who indulge in the same romance of wine.
As one of Stone Hill’s winemakers, Shaun’s goal is to improve on the already high quality of Norton and Chardonel. He expects the most challenging part of his career to be making wine from grape varieties other than Vinifera and in more extreme weather conditions than in South Africa.
Shaun is married to wife, Bernadette, and enjoys dining on fine wine and food with her. In his spare time he competes in mountain bike and cyclecross events.
Tavis Harris graduated with a Bachelor of Science Degree in Chemistry from Missouri State University in 1998.
After college, Tavis accepted a job at the State Fruit Experiment Station in Mountain Grove, Missouri, operated by Missouri State University. As Enology Technician at the Fruit Experiment Station, Tavis’ duties included research wine production, applied research, education/advisement, as well as support roles at wine competitions and conferences. Tavis operated the Wine Analytical Services Program within the Mid-America Viticulture and Enology Center, providing basic analytical services to the industry of the region. At MSU, Tavis also worked in support of the distillation program and the Viticulture and Enology Science and Technology Alliance program. During his four year tenure, Tavis worked on a number of research projects relating to wine chemistry.
Winemaking is the combination of science, nature and art to make something greater than the sum of its parts. Chemistry is a guiding science in the decisions a winemaker must make.”
– Tavis Harris
Tavis joined Stone Hill Winery’s elite winemaking team in August 2005. As Enologist for Stone Hill, Tavis performs chemical analyses on the wines throughout the winemaking process to ensure the highest quality to the consumer. In addition, Tavis can often be found in the cellar assisting the production crew with the day’s activities.
When he is not working, Tavis enjoys hunting, fishing and spending time in the Missouri outdoors.
Nick Pehle holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Agricultural Systems Management and a minor in Agricultural Economics from the University of Missouri–Columbia.
My highest objective in a vineyard is balance. There are countless, continually changing variables in the vineyard that all must be balanced to produce high quality wine grapes”
– Nick Pehle
After graduating in 2000, Nick began his career in the vineyard at Les Bourgeois Winery in Rocheport, Missouri, and was quickly promoted to Vineyard Manager in 2001. Also, in 2001 Nick started his own wine grape vineyard in Etlah, Missouri, which he owns and operates with his wife Stephanie and three children. In 2007 Nick joined Stone Hill Winery’s viticulture team as Assistant Vineyard Manager, he was promoted to Vineyard Manager in 2010. Nick currently manages a staff of 18 and oversees more than 180 acres of the finest wine grapes in Missouri Wine Country, consisting of 12 different grape varieties spread among seven Hermann-area vineyards.
Stone Hill Winery’s vineyards include popular grape varieties such as Norton, Chambourcin, Vidal, Vignoles, Traminette, Catawba, Valvin Muscat and Concord, with each variety presenting unique viticultural challenges. Nick has met those challenges head on, applying over a decade of viticulture knowledge, engineering expertise, and proficiency with vineyard mechanization systems, including pruning, shoot thinning, fruit thinning, shoot positioning, leaf thinning and harvesting. His efforts and dedication have paid off with consistently high quality wine grapes, improved labor efficiency and vineyard expansions earning him praise and respect from his employers, peers and staff. Nick has been a guest speaker at wine grape growing conferences around the country, including Viticulture 2010, Wineries Unlimited and the Justin Morris Vineyard Mechanization Workshop.
In Nick’s free time he enjoys spending time with his family, target shooting, and working on the family farm.