Hess Select Central Coast Pinot Noir 2018

Medium ruby color; raspberry, cherry, black tea, pinch of earth on the nose; raspberry, black plum, cherry, blueberry, strawberry, clove on the palate.

Hess Select Central Coast Pinot Noir 2018

Dry; supple tannins; relaxed acidity (3.8 pH). Mild oak notes from a year in neutral French oak. 100% pinot noir, 667 and Pommard clones. Light-medium body; silky in the mouth. Good pinot noir for its price point. You can get more sophisticated pinot, but you will pay more. While there is some noticeable alcohol on the nose, the fruits and silkiness covers the heat on the palate. 14.5% ABV

Hess Select are the Hess Family Wine Estates entry-level offerings. They feature attractive pricing and good-quality-for-price (QPR) value. This solidly fits that mold. Hess also makes significantly higher quality wines, especially from their Mount Veeder blocks. Hess Family Wine Estates is a family-owned, fifth-generation company committed to responsible agriculture and business practices. Certified Napa Green, a commitment they have pursued since 1978.

Hess enjoys a storied history in Napa wine. In the 1880s, the families of Fisher, Brandlin, and Streich H. Hudeman settled on the property where the Hess Collection Winery now sits. Hudemann established a botanical garden that included a 12-acre vineyard and small winery. From 1884 to 1990 Rudolph Jordan owned the estate and made significant contributions to winemaking, including being the first to use cool fermentation and inoculated yeast.

Hess Collection vineyard

Col. Theodore Gier, a prominent wine merchant and leader in the California wine industry owned the property from 1900 to 1929. Gier planted more vineyards and built the three-story winery that today holds the Hess Collection’s art gallery and its historic barrel chai (an above-ground building that stores wine in casks).

The stock market crash ended Grier’s operations, and in 1930 the Christian Brothers purchased the property to establish a new novitiate, school, and winery. The Brothers expanded the winery and began producing Mont La Salle wines, a major provider of Catholic sacramental wines still today, although now from other properties and different owners.

Donald Hess

In 1978, Donald Hess, a Swiss entrepreneur, purchased 900 acres of land on Mount Veeder, with 20 acres planted in wine vines. Looking for space for grape production, he leased the Christian Brothers winery on Mount Veeder in 1986. In 1989, he opened a visitor center and a gallery to present his extensive art collection. In addition to vineyard purchases, Hess also set aside more than 600 acres to support wildlife corridors, fish-friendly farming practices, and biodiversity with the mantra: “nurture the land and return what you take.”

Over succeeding years, Dave Guffy became the second director of winemaking and Hess increased its emphasis on sustainable winegrowing, including helping establish the Napa Green program and gaining certification in 2008. Donald Hess retired in 2011 and Timothy Persson, Donald’s son-in-law, became the CEO, the fifth generation of the Hess family to guide the operation. Timothy is joined by his wife, Sabrina, whose mission is to develop The Hess Collection into a world-class brand and destination.

Hess Select Central Coast Pinot Noir 2018 is tasty, simple, fruit-forward, that works very well as a QPR value wine. If you are a pinot noir connoisseur, you will want to spend more to get more depth and etherial elements, but if you are looking for a smooth, easy drinking wine that has some pinot noir characteristics, this certainly will work. I think that is what Hess was shooting for with this effort, and that is what they got. Pair with grilled salmon; baked or rotisserie chicken; pork; lamb; light beef; veal; venison; creamy cheeses. $15-19

Hess Collection website

Nice video of the Hess Collection story

Hess family, current CEO Tim and Sabrina Persson—Donald Hess and his wife Ursula’s son-in-law and daughter and their children
Dave Guffy
Hess winemaking team—Dave Guffy, Alison Rodriguez, Stephanie Pope, Randal Johnson
Hess Collection winery
Hess Collection art gallery
Hess Collection barrel room