In 1978, John Guilliams and his wife Shawn left the Bay Area to move to a little forgotten winery on the slopes of Spring Mountain in Napa. John had attended U.C. Berkeley where he majored in Engineering and Conservation of Natural Resources, building his first house in Berkeley hills. Now with starting a family in Napa, he began building their new home. It was not long before the Guilliams caught the wine-bug, since they lived in Napa, and soon they were making their own home wine. With the help of family and friends, the Guilliams built up their 7-acre vineyard, bringing it into production again. It had originally been planted in 1890 but abandoned during the Depression. They planted a majority of Cabernet Sauvignon vines but also Merlot and Cabernet Franc varietals.
With the vineyard being at an elevation of 2000 feet, with four distinct soils, and several microclimates, the Guilliams expertly figured out where each varietal would prosper, making the end result of wine ever so better. They aged the wines in French Oak barrels for two years and all are Estate Bottled and sold under the Guilliams label. They vineyard is farmed sustainable and the family does most of the work themselves. Now, John Guilliams is a member of the committee that wrote the Code of Sustainable Winegrowing Practices for the California Wine Institute, as well as being the Director of the Napa County Farm Bureau. In 1984, Guilliams Vineyards was commercially producing and selling wine and has been doing so ever since. Their little vineyard and winery is off the beaten path up Spring Mountain and the tastings are free.