Our Story

As fifth generation Hess family, Tim and Sabrina consider themselves stewards of the brand and the land. When Donald Hess came to California in the 1970s, he was attracted to California wine and became fascinated with Mount Veeder. Although few in Napa Valley were cultivating vines at elevation, Donald Hess believed the volcanic slopes of Mount Veeder provided the ideal combination of soils and microclimates to yield elegant wines with rich, complex flavors.

A pioneer by nature, Donald Hess was determined to defy convention and pursue winemaking at elevation, so in 1978, he established The Hess Collection Winery on the site of one of the region’s oldest wineries. He took the opportunity to marry his two creative passions in life—wine and art—and he established an art gallery within the winery as a means of sharing his private art collection. Donald Hess and his wife, Ursula, met through their shared love of art, and today, Ursula’s daughter, Sabrina, and her husband, Tim, continue the family legacy of sharing wine and art and the family’s ongoing commitment to making both accessible to all.

Tim and Sabrina have chosen to call the Napa Valley their home. Tim was raised in Southern Africa and Europe, Sabrina raised in Switzerland and London, but the Napa Valley is where they have found their true calling. They strive to impart their own influence on the winery and support state-of-the-art innovations. Together, they continue to advance The Hess Collection as one of the premier family-owned and family-led companies in Napa Valley, and they are hopeful that someday their children too will carry on the Hess family heritage.

Our History

2019 - New Iron Corral Vineyard

Situated about 2 miles from our Allomi Vineyard in Pope Valley, the Iron Corral Vineyard is 420 acres, with 186 planted acres of vines, predominately Cabernet Sauvignon.

2018 – Grand opening of the new Lions Head Cellar

An opportunity born from the damage of the 2014 earthquake, the new cellar is an equipped with small, boutique tanks designed for luxury winemaking allowing the Hess winemaking team to further improve the wines currently produced and the creative freedom to introduce new wines. Included in the new cellar are gorgeous modern spaces designed for unique guest experiences.

 

2017 - The Next Generation at the Helm

Donald Hess formally retires from The Hess Collection and Hess Family Wine Estates and hands the reigns to son-in-law Timothy Persson and daughter Sabrina.

2016 – Alison Rodriguez joins the winemaking team

Hess Family winemaking team is lead by Dave Guffy and includes the talents and diverse experience of Alison Rodriguez, Stephanie Pope and Randle Johnson (left to right)

2015: Wine, Elevated

With the release of the 2012 vintages from Mount Veeder, The Hess Collection celebrates its 30th vintage, establishing a new level of quality driven by a decade-long vineyard redevelopment plan.

The Hess Collection Visitors Center and Art Museum reopens in September following extensive earthquake repairs and upgrades to assure an elevated experience for guests. Plans continue for the rebuilding and re-imagining of earthquake damaged Cellar One.

The Hess Collection’s American Canyon facility and vineyards are for the first time certified sustainable, while the Mount Veeder winery & vineyards are re-certified sustainable by the California Sustainable Winegrowing Alliance.

2014: South Napa Earthquake

Early in the morning of August 24, an earthquake caused extensive damage throughout the winery and Visitor Center, resulting in the loss of Cellar One, several thousand gallons of wine, and ultimately, the renovation of the historic stone building.

Damage in the barrel room

2013: A Winemaking Legacy

Randle Johnson is acknowledged for three decades of winemaking with the Hess family, the first Hess Collection winemaker, now lead winemaker for Artezin, and consulting winemaker for Colomé, and still a contributing member of the Hess winemaking team.

Winemaker Randle Johnson

2009: Quality Enhancement Launched

A 10-year vineyard re-development program begins with a goal of improving wine quality

2008: Napa Green Certification

The Hess Collection is among the first ten wineries to receive certification as a Napa Green Winery.  In spring, The Hess Collection purchases 24 goats – all of whom turned out to be pregnant – for ground clearing and underbrush management in our Mount Veeder estate vineyards.  Now, a large herd of goats are released into the vineyards prior to bud break to help with weed control, minimizing the use of tractors and tilling.

Goats are used for weed control

2007: Sustainability Concepts Move Forward

The Hess Collection sits on Napa Valley Vintners Association steering committee to establish the “Napa Green” program to define best practices for Napa Valley winery facilities.

2002: Code of Sustainable Winegrowing Practices

The Hess Collection helps develop the Wine Institute’s “Code of Sustainable Winegrowing Practices”, a landmark code of best management practices promoting social responsibility and environmental stewardship.

1995: Su’skol Vineyard Planted

Hess Su’skol Vineyard is developed near San Pablo Bay, where morning fog and afternoon breezes create an ideal climate for growing Chardonnay.

Su'skol Vineyard

1992: The First Natural Farming Symposium

The Hess Collection hosts the first Natural Farming Symposium for vineyards in the United States.  Over 100 vintners attend, with speakers from Europe, Australia, and the US.

1986: The Hess Collection Winery Is Established

Donald Hess leases the winery buildings from The Christian Brothers in 1986.  The Hess Collection Winery opens to the public in June of 1989, following a two year renovation of the facility which includes 13,000 square feet of Donald Hess’ personal contemporary art collection.  In 1992 Donald Hess leases 125 acres of vineyard from the Brothers, including the historic Brother Timothy vineyard.

1930 - 1986: The Christian Brothers

The crash of ’29 ended Gier’s operations and in 1930 the property is sold to the Christian Brothers who seek a site for a new novitiate, school and winery.  They expand the winery and begin producing award winning Mont La Salle wines.  Brother John F.S.C. (Stanley S. Hoffman) and Brother Timothy F.S.C. (Anthony G. Diener) contribute considerably to the successes of the winery during this period.  Brother John’s vision and energy initiates the winery’s rise to eminence as one of California’s leading wineries.  Brother Timothy was a world-renowned winemaster greatly enhances the reputation of wines from Mount Veeder and Napa Valley.

1900 - 1929: Colonel Theodore Gier

A prominent wine merchant and leader in the development of the California wine industry, Col. Theodore Gier, acquires the property, plants more vineyards and builds the three story winery that currently holds the Hess Collection’s historic barrel chai and art gallery.  Gier’s wines won many awards and medals in American and European competitions.  Gier is a civic leader with the Oakland Merchant Exchange which was instrumental in the development of the Caldecott Tunnel.

1884 - 1900: Rudolph Jordan

Rudolph Jordan, winemaker and dedicated researcher owns the estate, his “Lotus Farm”, from 1884-1900.  Jordan makes significant contributions to the methodology of winemaking during his tenure of the nearby Castle Rock winery.  He is the first to use cool fermentation and inoculated yeast.

1876 - 1884: H. Hudemann

The first pioneers in the area (last half of the 19th century) were of German descent including the families of Fisher, Brandlin, and Streich.  H. Hudemann settles on a property that is now the site of the Hess Collection Winery.  Hudemann establishes his “Sprout Farm” (a beautiful botanical garden resort), planted a 12 acre vineyard, and built a small stone winery.
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