Since we were staying in the City of Napa, one of the first wineries we visited was about ten miles away on Mount Veeder. I had never tasted any of their wines as I had never encountered them back home, but I had heard that it was one I shouldn’t miss.
The Hess Collection proudly proclaims Donald Hess’s two passions-wine and art. I had booked reservations for the tasting room, and the tour of the winery was self-guided.
We started at the information desk to confirm our tasting reservation and then proceeded onto our tour. There was a classic storage of wine barrels resting in the classic manner of the great wineries of France. We then went up a flight of stairs and watched a short film on the winery and Mr. Hess’s philosophy, and then we entered the first of two art galleries. This gallery was more traditional in scope, but still contemporary.
Up another flight of stairs to observe the fermentation tanks, and since we were there during harvest there was activity all around us. We then entered the second art gallery, which was much more modern. Mr. Hess’s collection of art was very contemporary and a bit modern to my liking. The piece I remember the most was an Underwood Typewriter with a continuous flame shooting upward where the paper that had been typed on would have been. We then went to another area where you could see part of the vineyard and the mountain terrain, and then into a room where they were doing the bottling and applying the labels and packing the wines for shipment.
We then went downstairs for our tasting. We had their Chardonnay, two different Merlots and two different Meritage wines. My notes from the tasting say that the Chardonnay had just a touch of oak and nuts to the taste. The Merlot wines both had a touch of oak and chocolate, very full and satisfying. The ’94 Meritage was their pride and joy and it justified the more than double the price of the ’93 Meritage, but both were fruity and spicy and were exactly what one would expect from a Meritage blend. After the tasting we ended up in the Winery store and we purchased everything that we had tasted.
I looked forward to trying these again in the years to come, and have not been unsatisfied with my selections. Since this trip, we have been pleased to be able to purchase The Hess Collections wines locally and in some of the better restaurants.