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.
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.
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.
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
1978: DONALD HESS ARRIVES ON MOUNT VEEDER
Donald Hess acquires his first land on Mount Veeder, and completes purchase of 900 acres in 1982. Over 600 acres are set aside as undeveloped land to support wildlife corridors, fish friendly farming practices and biodiversity. Vineyard development begins with the direction to “nurture the land and return what you take.”
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.
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.
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.
1999: THE WINEMAKING BATON PASSES
Dave Guffy arrives as Director of Winemaking, only the second winemaker to lead The Hess Collection winemaking team.
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.
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.
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.
2009: QUALITY ENHANCEMENT LAUNCHED
A 10-year vineyard re-development program begins with a goal of improving wine quality
2011: DONALD HESS RETIRES, NEXT GENERATION ASSUMES LEADERSHIP
Donald Hess formally retires from The Hess Collection and Hess Family Wine Estates. Timothy Persson is named to lead The Hess Collection as Chief Executive Officer, the fifth generation of the Hess family to provide leadership.
2012: WINEMAKERS APPOINTED
Director of Winemaking Dave Guffy welcomes Stephanie Pope and Kate Ayres to his winemaking team.
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.
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.
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.
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