The Hess Collection Winery was founded in 1985 when Swiss entrepreneur Donald Hess bought 500 acres of land on Mount Veeder, in Napa Valley. The winery now owns 725 acres in various parts of Napa Valley and in Monterey. About two-thirds of the estate’s vineyards are planted to Chardonnay, and Hess is known for its consistently excellent Chardonnays. The estate also grows Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Malbec, Petit Verdot, Sauvignon Blanc and small amounts of other white wine grapes. Of special note is the estate’s collection of contemporary art, which is located at the Mount Veeder estate and is open to the public. Hess Family Estates also owns wineries in Argentina, South Africa and Australia.
Mount Veeder AVA was established in 1993, though its origins as a wine producing district date to the 19th century. A German Presbyterian pastor named Peter Veeder was one of the first landowners in the area, and by 1864 one of his neighbors, a German sea captain named Stelham Wing, was producing wine commercially. The area continued to attract German agricultural entrepreneurs, some of whom established the estate that would later become the Christian Brothers Mont La Salle winery. Today the AVA includes about 1,000 acres of vineyards, most of them at relatively high altitudes. The Mayacamas vineyard, for instance, is at 2,400 feet. Cabernet Sauvignon is the most frequently planted grape, followed by Malbec, Merlot, Cabernet Franc and Petit Verdot.
On the Iberian peninsula, one grape belongs to two different countries and is called by two different names: Albarino in Spain, Alvarhino in Portugal. Either way, it makes an underrated white wine that is akin to Riesling and fabulous with seafood and shellfish.