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Hess Select Central Coast Pinot Noir



Donald Hess, Swiss by birth, bought his first vineyard in Mount Veeder in the Napa Valley in 1978...

He recognised the potential of the deep volcanic rocky soils to produce small and concentrated berries that yield structured powerful wines. His dedication to quality meant that the first wines were not released until 1987. Today, the Hess Collection Vineyards comprise more than 419 hectares of vineyards in California, with 285 hectares in the Napa Valley. From the beginning, Hess was dedicated to sustainable farming, their motto being “Nurture the land and return what you take.” As a result they have achieved various certifications because their sensitivity towards the environment touches every aspect of production, from vineyard to packaging.

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Hess Select winemakers explore California’s Central Coast growing region, with a particular fondness for the famed Pinot Noir grown in the Santa Lucia Highlands and the Santa Maria Valley. This vintage features a blend of 78% fruit from Monterey, with much of that from the Sarmento Vineyard in SLH, and 22% from the Santa Maria Valley, where Pinot Noir benefits from the cooling ocean influence brought onshore through mountain ranges oriented west to east. Hess Director of Winemaking, Dave Guffy, first made Pinot Noir here in the Santa Maria Valley, and his familiarity with fruit sourced from the region shows in this delicious wine.

Vintage information

2012 was a challenging year that demanded the complete attention of vineyard teams. A wet spring with late frosts set the stage for periodic rain that continued deeply into June. A milder than average, temperate summer made patience a duty, not just a virtue, as fruit hung a bit longer on the vines, developing optimal levels of sugar, acid and complex flavours. Harvest, as a result, began later and heavy October rains brought concern for the fruit quality. Fortunately, exceptional Pinot Noir fruit was picked between the 3rd and 12th of October, allowing for the creation of a memorable wine.


The Pinot Noir grapes were machine harvested. Upon arrival at the winery, they were fermented to dryness. The wine was aged on its lees in neutral French oak for up to nine months with regular battonage.

Tasting Notes

Darker toned fruit led by ripe plum and rich cherry dominate both aromas and flavours, with a noticeable earthiness instantly recognisable as having a Santa Lucia Highlands influence. Sweet on entry, soft on the finish, there are spicy oak accents and well balanced, well managed tannins.

Vintage information

Vintage 2012
Grape varieties 100% Pinot Noir
Region California
Winemaker Dave Guffy
Alcohol (ABV) 14.5%
Acidity 6g/l
Residual Sugar 3.6g/l
Wine pH 3.76