• Our Tasting Room is CLOSED & we’re moving to the Ranch – READ MORE!

Our Founders

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 country, 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.

With Francine (Frankie) now at the helm, we’re keeping Todd’s philosophy alive by continuing to produce wines at reasonable prices, while making sure fun is at the brand’s core. 

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 older 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 the wine industry and was an entrepreneur and risk taker par excellence.

He established and grew a busy nationally known winery and vineyards in Sonoma County. After several years, Rod decided he wanted out of the hectic business of running a large winery and to get back to enjoying the vineyards and the entrepreneurial spirit of the small vintner. Never one to worry about the outcome of something, Rod explained, “I just jump off a cliff and hope I land on an awning!” With that joie de vivre, he joined Todd Williams in the prospects of creating a small brand that offered excellent wines at prices that would allow everyday enjoyment of wine.

With Todd’s fine wine knowledge and ability to make friends wherever he went, and Rod’s familiarity with world-wide vineyards, Toad Hollow Vineyards was launched. Rod sourced well farmed fruit from all over California as well as undiscovered French wine regions, while Todd hit the road to spread the word about their new fan friendly winery.

Life isn’t fair and a few years later, Rod was stricken and was unable to physically continue at the helm of his dream. Before his passing he was able to see how we’ve carried on his dream by continuing to make beautiful and critically acclaimed wines that Toad Hollow fans enjoy from coast to coast.