Winemaker & President
Austin Hope arrived in Paso Robles in 1978, when his family moved to the small farming town in search of new opportunity. His parents bought land and planted both vineyards and apple orchards. He was just eight years old when the grapes came on line in the 1980s and began learning in the vineyards alongside his father, Chuck Hope.
In 1995 he graduated from Cal Poly San Luis Obispo with a degree in fruit science. Beginning in the 1980s, the Hope family sold Cabernet Sauvignon grapes to Caymus for its Liberty School label, and Austin followed his father’s advice to seek out an opportunity to work with Caymus founder Chuck Wagner.
Austin worked with Wagner in Napa, both inside the winery and the administrative offices, learning the nuts and bolts of the wine business from one of California’s most respected producers. “That was probably my a-ha moment,” says Austin. “I realized that I not only wanted to grow grapes, but to manage our own label to bring our fruit directly to the market,” he says.
The Hope family began producing Liberty School wines and founded Treana in 1996. After beginning as the assistant winemaker, Austin became winemaker for the Hope portfolio in 1998. Hope Family Wines now makes Treana, Liberty School, Candor, Troubelmaker and Austin Hope wines. In 2009, Austin Hope was named “Winemaker of the Year” at the California Mid-State Fair.
When he’s not in the lab tasting or on the road promoting his wines, Austin enjoys duck hunting with Spartacus, his Labrador retriever, and staying ahead of the curve on the indie music scene by attending as many rock-n-roll concerts as possible. He’s also a dedicated dad who enjoys spending time with his two young daughters.
A Central Coast native, Jason “JC” Diefenderfer has been on the winemaking team at Hope Family Wines since 1998.
No stranger to agriculture, JC grew up on his family’s ranch in Templeton, just south of Paso Robles. He and Austin Hope attended high school together and forged a friendship that remains today. JC managed farm and ranching operations for King Ranch until 1997 when he began working with the Hope family to design and build their crush facility in Paso Robles. Recalling exactly when and how he was bitten by the wine bug that would take him down a different path in farming, he says “it was the clear approach to winemaking that intrigued me about Treana & Liberty School: their passion and dedication to the vineyard.”
Jason started working officially for the winery in 1998 and apprenticed under then-winemaker Chris Phelps. He became the assistant winemaker for Liberty School in 1999 and winemaker in 2006. Today JC works closely with Austin Hope to craft the blends of all the brands: Liberty School, Treana, Candor, Troublemaker and Austin Hope. JC oversees winemaking and viticulture, including working with the grower relations team on vineyard selection and vineyard practices, fruit ripeness, and harvest decisions.
He brings the whole package to the table: local, agricultural roots; familiarity with the wines and winemaking of the Old World and the New; and over a decade of experience with Hope Family Wines’ growers and wines.