A World-Class Wine Experience

As it so often does in all aspects of life, art sets the scene at The Hess Collection Estate on Mount Veeder in Napa Valley. Founder Donald Hess’s art collection began when he bought a painting as décor for his new home. Years later, a friend studied the painting and informed him  that he owned a Picasso. That gave Hess his first inclination that he might have an eye for art curation.

In 1978, when Hess established The Hess Collection Winery, formerly the Christian Brothers – Mont La Salle Winery, he purchased approximately 1,000 acres on Mount Veeder but committed to only plant  a  third or less to grapevines. The mountain and its wines pulled him in, but he fell head over heels for the beauty and history of the estate. He made offers for years before the Christian Brothers finally relented and allowed him – not to purchase the historic winery built in 1903 – but to lease it for the long term.

He then began remodeling buildings, landscaping, and  updating winery equipment, He built a new tasting room and added the 13,000 square-foot  art gallery, housing pieces from his collection. Four decades later, Donald Hess formally retired and handed the reigns to his daughter and son-in-law, Sabrina and Timothy Persson,  the  next  generation of Hess family whose goal it is to protect Donald Hess’s legacy  while advancing The Hess Collection as one of the premier family- owned and family-led wineries in Napa Valley. In 2014, a 6.0 earthquake hit and caused significant damage  to the winery and the original stainless  steel tanks in the largest cellar, resulting in the loss  of 20,000 gallons of wine. After recovery, the Hess Family eventually unveiled  a new and improved winemaking facility—  Lions Head Cellar. A giant dented wine tank that the earthquake damaged stands  tall at the entrance  of the new cellar, like a winemaker’s Tower of Pisa.

The winery withstood Mother Nature and evolved into a wonderland of experiences for connoisseurs of wine and art.

Today, Tim and Sabrina Persson continue to share and grow the art  collection,  which  is outstanding by anyone’s standard.

the hess collection

Wine and culinary experiences include  a wine and chocolate pairing  that  is  one  of  the most decadent in the Valley. Chef Chad Hendrickson fills Swiss cacao chocolate truffles with a variety of ganache flavors, like cassis, violet, marshmallow, coffee, olive oil, vanilla, and balsamic  vinegar. He expertly prepares farm-to-table  wine luncheons  and cheese pairings complemented with unique artisan touches like slices of persimmons he’s hand-dried for months.

Weather permitting,  the “Vine to Table Excursion,” an ATV ride through  the vineyards with stops for tastings, is not to be missed. The views from high on Mount Veeder are stunning.

If the wines weren’t so  stellar,  one might get lost in an overload of beauty and history. The world-class Hess Collection wine portfolio  provides  the   motivation   to trek up the mountain and spend a day tasting and perusing the sculptures, paintings, and installations. It’s hard to imagine what could be better than topping off this extraordinary tasting and gallery tour with a delectable wine and culinary experience on their wisteria-covered courtyard on a gorgeous California day.





Article By: Layne Randolph