Todd "Dr. Toad" Williams

1938-2007

Todd “Dr. Toad” Williams, our friend and founder, always managed to bring laughter and vitality to our daily life at Toad Hollow. His passion for wine and vision of “wine for the masses” led him, with his wife Francine and his good friend and colleague Rod Strong, to create this winery in 1993.  Todd’s big arms embraced everyone he met and his magnanimous nature created lasting friendships.

Williams' larger-than-life personality could be counted on to fill a room. At times, Todd was described as a hell-raiser but never lost the hard work ethic and Southern manners he learned as a boy growing up in rural Versailles, Kentucky. He was an extraordinary man - kind but outgoing and very much a people person. Todd, like Mark Twain, never worried about letting the truth get in the way of a good story. His storytelling gave him the ability to attract unusual people. It was often said of Todd that he never met a stranger.

Todd got into the wine business after years of having owned bars and restaurants all over the world, because he felt that too many people were intimidated by wine. His mission was to strip away the mystique and make wine inclusive. Todd believed that wine should a part of people's everyday lives, not just something that was celebratory. He believed that wine should be fun and he loved sharing that experience with everyone he met.

We continue Todd’s vision for our business, now with Francine “Frankie” Williams at the helm. Keeping his dream alive, our motto remains “Fine Wines at Reasonable Prices”. 

Rodney Strong

1927-2006

Our friend and partner, Rodney Strong was an icon in the wine industry but that was not how he started his professional career. As a young adult, Rod became famous in the arts and entertainment industry as a dancer and choreographer in Paris and on Broadway. While in France, Rod also developed his love and appreciation of wine, vineyards and winemaking. Rod eventually realized that while he could not envision himself as an old dancer, he could see himself growing older gracefully as a winemaker.

Rod returned to America and settled into Sonoma County where he pioneered many innovations in this business and was an entrepreneur and risk taker par excellence. Through it all, he was a Pinot Noir and Burgundy lover and was very excited when he planted Goldie’s Vines – a vineyard named for his mother. He began to realize his dream of making world class Pinot Noir from this very special patch of Russian River Valley earth. He planted six different clones on four different root stocks in the most beautiful southeast facing sloped vineyard in the valley. It was the perfect starting point to forge this wonderful wine.

Life isn’t fair and in the middle of the project, Rod was stricken and was unable to physically continue at the helm of his dream. We have chosen to carry on that dream in his stead though making beautiful Pinot Noir from our Goldie’s Vineyard.  Rod believed that wine was the perfect blend of the earth and the arts and that belief continues ahead with every season in our Goldie’s Vineyard.