Heitz Wine Cellars inhabits a pristine valley in the eastern hills of St. Helena known to the locals as Spring Valley. In 1964, Joe and Alice Heitz acquired this 160-acre ranch and winery to accommodate their burgeoning family business.
The gray stone cellar, constructed of hand-chiseled perlite in 1898, safeguards Heitz' collection of French oak barrels which are filled with aging wine. The rich patina of its weathered walls is in perfect harmony with the high-tech equipment dotting the landscape of the winery's grounds in the 21st century.
Heitz Wine Cellars has earned countless accolades for its dazzling wines every year since 1961. Their renowned vineyard-designated wines — Martha's Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon and Trailside Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon — are the highlight of the winery's distinguished resumé.
Heitz' remarkable Martha's Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon has been a collector's favorite for over 47 years. Wine Spectator underscored this wine's legendary status by selecting Martha's Vineyard Cabernet as one of the Top 12 wines of the 20th Century.
Heitz Wine Cellars' Chardonnay, Grignolino, Zinfandel and Port have also earned their share of ardent fans over the years. To many admirers, the Heitz label is the premiere symbol of fine wine and graceful hospitality.
Since the winery ranch also includes the Heitz' family home, we direct visitors to our original site on St. Helena Highway where we have welcomed wine lovers for over half a century.
After earning a master's degree in enology from UC Davis, Joe Heitz practiced the basics of winemaking in a series of wineries near Fresno and Lodi. In 1951, the couple moved to the Napa Valley where Joe became the right-hand man for revered winemaker André Tchelistcheff at Beaulieu Vineyard. A second chapter in Fresno followed, but this time Joe had a much more significant role when he launched the Department of Enology at Fresno State College.
In 1961, Joe and Alice finally purchased their first vineyard, 8 acres just south of St. Helena. Working out of the small winery attached to the parcel, they put in round-the-clock sweat equity to build their business.
Heitz Wine Cellars rapidly established a reputation as home base for one of the Napa Valley's most innovative and brilliant winemakers, and the unassuming winery soon became a prestigious destination for wine connoisseurs.
In 1964, the Heitz family acquired a 160-acre vineyard property in Spring Valley, a small fold in the eastern hills of St. Helena. Joe sharpened his focus on Cabernet, and the following year, he and Alice made a serendipitous connection with Tom and Martha May who owned a young vineyard in Oakville.
Although world-renowned figures were among those who savored Heitz wines over the years, Joe and Alice did not succumb to the limelight. They preferred to run an unpretentious family business even though they both enjoyed their winemaking journey immensely. Joe Heitz lived with spirit and passion, savoring every year as a Napa Valley winemaker to the fullest extent. Along with Alice, Joe also derived great pleasure in the successful transition of Heitz Wine Cellars to the second generation before his death in December 2000. Today, Alice Heitz continues to lend support at the winery with her keen palate and quick wit.
Years of hands-on experience in every facet of the family business inspired Kathleen Heitz' deep-rooted love of winemaking. Combining her firsthand knowledge with a broad based education in science, genetics, and the culinary arts prepared Kathleen for her dynamic leadership role in Napa Valley winemaking today.
Kathleen began her scientific studies in Switzerland, ultimately earning a degree in biology from the University of Oregon. She also attained a lifetime teaching credential in California and continued her education in France and Thailand with the study of cuisine.
In 1978, she came home to the Napa Valley eager to contribute to the distinguished Heitz' winemaking legacy. Kathleen has always preferred to flex her skills on the bottom line. Beginning in sales and marketing, she gradually earned the family's vote of confidence to lead the entire operation.
Since 1998, Kathleen has been the Chief Operating Officer and President of Heitz Wine Cellars. She has charted a highly effective course for the winery by embracing frontline technology and business practices while continuing to preserve Heitz' rich agricultural heritage with sustainable and organic farming practices.
There is always that moment of truth for any second-generation winemaker. David Heitz mastered his moment at a very young age, and he has continued to create stunning wines for more than three decades.
In the summer of 1974, David had just arrived home with a degree in enology from Fresno State University when his father suffered a back injury. Drawing on his ample experience as an apprentice in the family winery, David did more than just step up to the plate. His first solo production sailed into the winemaking stratosphere, gifting collectors around the world with the 1974 Martha's Vineyard Cabernet. Father and son continued working their magic as a team until the mid-1990s when David officially assumed full responsibility for winemaking.
Although futuristic when it comes to farming methods and updating equipment, David says he does not feel the pressure to run after every trend in winemaking. He favors bold, yet precision-balanced wines that reflect a polished purity.
At Heitz Wine Cellars, we practice sustainable and certified organic farming in our vineyards in order to preserve our rich agricultural heritage and contribute to a healthy future for everyone who calls the Napa Valley home.
Our agricultural operation has gradually expanded to encompass 1,000 acres which are located in some of the Napa Valley's finest winemaking appellations.
Those prime parcels include the ranch that surrounds the winery property and sweeps the eastern hills of St. Helena, our acreage on Zinfandel Lane and the rich farmland of the Trailside Vineyard in Rutherford. Our majestic Valley Oak Ranch is contiguous to the steep slopes of our Ink Grade Vineyard, and our Linda Falls Vineyard is a tiny jewel on Howell Mountain.
Then there is our original site about a mile south of downtown St. Helena which we all especially treasure — the much-loved vineyard that frames Heitz Cellars' Sales & Tasting Room today.
We have planted grapes on 375 of these acres, carefully selecting areas that convey the incomparable breadth of geography and climate that makes the Napa Valley the ideal place on earth for winegrowing. Lots of things have changed since Joe and Alice shared the first bottle of Heitz wine in 1961, but our core values --- quality, integrity and innovation --- have stood the test of time.