With some of the best and most expressive land, Hess Collection stands on the top of Mount Veeder. You enter the property alongside a fishpond that is surrounded by their garden space. The tasting room is in the original distillery, and you are surrounded by the same limestone that the mountain is made from. You taste through your choice of wine flight that represents the diversity and uniqueness of the Hess Collection. You can take a tour of the art collection curated by Donald Hess. The art that Mr. Hess chooses to represent produces a range of emotion in its viewers. You cannot simply stroll through the gallery without something catching your eye and causing you to think of the origin of the piece. The art is all very modern, and it all conveys the elegance and thought-provoking intention of Donald himself. Just like the wine that Hess produces, the art is complex, modern, invigorating, and elevated.
And now for a little history lesson: The story of the Hess Collection Winery begins long before Donald Hess acquired the beautiful Mount Veeder Property that we know and love today. Built in 1900, by Theodore Geir, a German-born liquor dealer, the three-story winery was made entirely out of limestone from the mountain and redwood from its surrounding forests. Originally used as a distillery, Theodore Geir eventually began producing wine, and he became the first to commercially distribute wine from Mt. Veeder. With the climate so perfect for producing wine, he planted and produced Zinfandel, Riesling, Gewürztraminer, and other German influenced grapes. Things were going well for Theodore until Prohibition was enacted in the United States, and he eventually lost the property in 1929. The Christian Brothers, a community within the Catholic Church, purchased the property in 1930 and began producing wine of high reputation, thereby bringing attention to the Mount Veeder appellation. On a fun side note, you can still drink wine from the 1932 Cabernet Sauvignon plants that were planted by Brother Timothy and the Christian Brothers! These vines are some of the oldest Cabernet vines in the Napa Valley.
In 1986, Donald Hess approached the Christian Brothers and established a long-term lease to occupy and operate the property and its facility. He renovated the original building that was built by Theodore Geir, which now houses the barrel chai and the personal art gallery of Donald Hess.
in 1993, Mount Veeder was established as an official AVA in the Napa Valley. It is the only hillside AVA that adjoins the Carneros Region, which promotes the cooling influence from the San Pablo Bay. Mount Veeder is known for their long growing season and their rugged mountainous terrain. It is safe to say that this might be the hardest, and yet most beneficial place to grow grapes in the Napa Valley. The fruit takes on the most beautiful aromatics that include blackberry, herbal, floral, and brambley characteristics, with a moderate to bold tannin structure that can age well. The white wines tend to be minerally and luscious with citrus, stone fruit, and herbal aromas. There is an excellent texture to the white wines coming off of Mount Veeder.
There is no better example of the greatness of Mount Veeder wines than the wines at the Hess Collection. Between the history, the land, and the unique characteristics that are represented in a single glass, Hess Collection really does elevate the experience of tasting a Napa Valley wine.