Dave Guffy

Chief winemaker

Dave Guffy first became interested in wine as a Food Science student at Cal Poly, San Luis Obispo. He was working in restaurants where he had the opportunity to sample a variety of different wines and wanted to learn more. This inspired him to work a harvest at a small Santa Cruz Mountain winery, and he decided to transfer to Fresno State to be part of the enology and viticulture program.

In 1999, Donald Hess hired Guffy as Director of Winemaking for The Hess Collection after a successful stint at a Central Coast winery. “I have a strong belief in making wine in the vineyard, working each site to absolutely maximize flavors,” says Guffy. “My goal is to make ripe fruit forward California style wines with both power and elegance.”

A California native, Guffy spent many summers with his grandparents on their 500-acre Kansas farm. To this day, Guffy is fascinated by the agricultural elements of winemaking. “The farming aspect of wine has a primal challenge about it, and the same with winemaking,” says Guffy. “You can never know everything. Every year the challenge is to do it better than the year before.”

Dave Guffy on Winemaking

“I learned very early that I have to walk the vines year-round. During harvest, I continually taste grapes to keep an eye on the maturity of flavors and tannins to ensure the best expression of a particular vineyard. As a student I loved Cabernet, especially from Napa Valley, and it inspired me to pursue winemaking. Now, I’m literally on top of Napa, making mountain Cabernets. Mountain fruit is different from valley floor fruit — and so are the wines. They are structured, complex, rich wines, with distinctive tannins, ageability and concentrated fruit.”

Meet the Winemakers

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