In 2006, a casual dinner at the Napa Rose restaurant in Anaheim, CA would forever change the way Ryan Hill thought about marketing wine. A three-hour conversation about the wine industry with Master Sommelier Michael Jordan and Fender Custom Shop Manager Michael Eldred led to Ryan and winemaker Alison Green-Doran collaborating on the Fender Project. They came up with a staining mixture called "Hill Harvest Red" and stained 100 60th Anniversary Stratocaster Guitars. These guitars were sold with a 6-pack of the Hill Family Presidential Blend. Little did we know this was the beginning of something big for Hill Family Estate.

The Fender Custom Shop has announced the release of the Presidential Select Stratocaster® guitar, which includes a six-pack case of custom-blended, hand-selected Fender 60th Anniversary Presidential Blend wine. The Presidential Select Stratocaster guitar is the only instrument offered by the Fender Custom Shop that includes the 60th anniversary logo. This unique opportunity to celebrate the 60th anniversary of Fender includes a case of hand-selected wine custom blended for the Fender Custom Shop by Yountville, Calif.-based Hill Family Estate. Only 100 of these instantly collectible instruments have been made available to the public, and therefore only 100 cases of this unique blend of wine are available as well.

The guitar features a hand-selected flame maple top, gold hardware throughout, custom-designed pickups and the Fender 60th anniversary logo inlaid in pearl at the 12th fret. The top of the guitar has been hand-stained using grape must from Hill Family.

The guitar comes with six 750 ml bottles of hand-selected wine, a blend of Cabernet and Merlot. The bottles are packaged in a unique case built in our Ensenada factory using a variety of tone woods including spruce and Paloscrito. The Fender Custom Shop Limited Edition logo is inlaid on the top using abalone, rosewood, maple and ebony.

Hill Family Estate’s Ryan Hill brought four different blends to Fender’s Scottsdale, Ariz., headquarters, presenting each blend to Fender and to restaurateur Mark Tarbell (at his Phoenix restaurant, Tarbell’s). Tarbell, along with Fender President Matt Janopaul, Hill, and FMIC Custom Division Director Mike Eldred, each sampled the blends and unanimously selected the final blend. Every aspect of the process was documented down to the last detail, including the selection of the glass for the bottles.

Tarbell studied in Paris, receiving wine training at l’Académie du Vin and earning a Grande Diplome d’Etude Culinaire from La Varenne Ecole de Cuisine. In the past ten years, his restaurants have earned 24 “best of” awards, including “Best Restaurant” (Tarbell’s) from Food & Wine magazine. For nine years, Tarbell has also been a judge for the Los Angeles County Fair wine competition, one of the nation’s oldest such events.

The unique wine blend stems from the relationship between Hill Family Estate and the Fender Custom Shop. The Hills are a fourth-generation California farm family and have been growing grapes for some of Napa Valley’s finest wineries for the past 28 years. Doug Hill and winemaker Alison Green Doran were commissioned to develop a delicate blend that would capture the same attention to detail that the Fender Custom Shop produces in its famous one-of-a-kind masterpiece instruments. This blend was hand-selected from four different blends that were developed specifically for Fender, and is limited to a small release to celebrate the 60th anniversary of Fender Musical Instruments Corporation. Each blend was blind tested, and the participants were unanimous in their choice of the final blend.

“The final blend chosen for the 60th anniversary of Fender is 82% Cabernet Sauvignon and 18% Merlot, from the Hill Family Beau Terre Vineyard,” Doran said. “Cabernet from this area is deep and smooth, while the Merlot is feisty and well-supported by ripe tannins. This blend captures the point where they can complement each other and grow together. Aromas of blackberry and black licorice will tone down a bit with age. The rich mouth-covering palate where fruit is the focus, surrounded by a moat of young and vibrant tannins, will age into a polished and unified structure. Those who like the focus on the fruit can start to drink the wine now; those who like more sweetness and integration could wait until 2008, and the wine should hold for 10 to 15 years in great shape.”

Doug Hill noted that his family’s Beau Terre Vineyard is an exceptional one. “In 1988, when I first put my shovel into the soil of the walnut orchard that would later become our Beau Terre Vineyard, I was amazed at the texture of this soil. It was loose and full of gravel. The soil was different than many of the surrounding areas. I could see it had life that would support the growth of grapevines but also cause them to struggle. It is that struggle in a vine’s growth that creates grape berries that are smaller in size and more concentrated in flavor.”

“For the past 17 years, the Beau Terre Vineyard has produced incredible wines, distinct from vineyards in the surrounding areas. The 2004 vintage is, without a doubt, our best vintage yet. The wine exhibits dark color, deep aromas, soft ripe tannins and richness. These attributes are achieved from this single-vineyard blend of Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot. The 2004 Presidential Blend was crafted with my love, passion and commitment to excellence that started over 28 years ago as a farmer in the Napa Valley. It gives me great pleasure to share this wine and to celebrate Fender’s rich legacy and heritage." -Doug Hill