Dr. Priscilla Higgins could easily be the heroine of an epic novel; an Isak Denisen (Karen Blixen) meets Madame Curie affair with the synthesized woman living harmoniously amongst the vines of Santa Barbara’s vineyards. Of course, Cilla, as we know her, would have nothing of it; she is far too humble and private.
Born in Zambia, Cilla moved to Kenya at the age of eight. Her father, Colin Trapnell, was an early ecologist in sub-Saharan Africa long before terms like ‘sustainable’ and ‘green’ were hip and cool. Earning a Ph.D. in physics from Cambridge University, our underachiever later picked-up a Masters in International Education from Stanford University. Her professional life centered on education and the computer and telecommunications industries both in the United Kingdom and in the valley to the north where they grow silicon ingots instead of grapes: Silicon Valley.
Today, Cilla is a dedicated philanthropist focused on bettering the lives of less fortunate people in undeveloped and developing nations. She is an avid hiker, global traveler, and enjoys a good laugh recalling the complexities of being one of five women in her class of 100 at Cambridge…over a glass of great wine of course.
Roger Higgins was born in the north of England – a Yorkshireman; not quite a Monte Python Yorkshireman, but a Yorkshireman nonetheless. Too restless to wile away the hours at a drawing board with his degree in Aeronautical Engineering, Roger was seduced by the promise of technology and the excitement of business.
One of his early assignments included living in France for several years, resulting in fluency in the language and culture, as well as a lifelong love of well-made wine. During the halcyon days of Silicon Valley, he worked with several start-ups in senior sales and operations capacities. One of the reasons that he and Cilla chose to be among the Santa Ynez Valley wineries rather than those of Napa or Sonoma, was that the latter felt too mature. As Roger says, “In hi-tech, one always wants to be part of a growing movement…Santa Barbara vineyards are youthful and growing.”
Roger’s youthful, entrepreneurial bent is evident in everything he does. Cimarone has grown by leaps and bounds since its first release in 2008. When not immersed in winery business, Roger golfs, squeezes in a game of squash, and travels far and wide with Cilla.
Together, the Higgins’ singular goal is to produce exquisite handcrafted wine from carefully tended fruit.