In the eyes of some, The Hess Collection could be considered a “winery of distinction” even if it didn’t produce world-class wines.
A distinguishing aspect of the Napa Valley estate is its multi-national collection of art, acquired over the past four decades by founder Donald Hess. The works, all created since 1960, are vivid, powerful and thought-provoking, and include bronze sculptures, oil paintings, video installations and interactive multimedia.
Among the artists represented are Andy Goldsworthy, Francis Bacon, Robert Motherwell, Frank Stella, Alan Rath and Anselm Keifer.
The collection is housed in a three-story winery building that was constructed in the early 1900s by Colonel Theodore Gier, the estate’s third owner. Founder H. Hudeman established his “Sprout Farm” botanical garden resort in 1876, later adding a 12-acre vineyard. Rudolph Jordan acquired the property in 1884, renamed it the Lotus Farm, and was among the first to use cool fermentation and inoculated yeast.
Gier came on board in 1900, and over the next 29 years planted additional plots of grapevines. His wines won numerous awards in both American and European competitions, helping to raise the international profile of American wines.
But when the stock market crashed in 1929, Gier crashed with it. The next year, after struggling unsuccessfully to hold on, he sold his operation to the Christian Brothers, who had been seeking a site for a new novitiate, school and winery. The Brothers ran the winery for 56 years, until Donald Hess leased the buildings in 1986.
Six years later, Hess added 125 acres of vineyard land to his lease agreement and began a replanting project. That has been an exciting development for Hess Collection winemaker Dave Guffy.
“I have a strong belief in making wine in the vineyard – working each site to absolutely maximize flavors,” Guffy says. “My goal is to make ripe, fruit-forward, California-style wines with both power and elegance.”
Hess Collection wines include a Mount Veeder Series, a Vineyard Designate Series and a California Series. The Vineyard Designate Series is particularly popular among wine critics.
“We chose these vineyards with great care,” Duffy says. “The distinct flavor qualities a specific site can provide are celebrated in these inherently unique wines.”
At Hess Collection, you’ll experience art on the walls and art in the wine glass.