Wine and the art of family business relationships

By Attracta Mooney

Hess Family Estates, the family-owned fourth-generation company that boasts vineyards on four continents, likes nothing more than making its impressive modern art collection available to as many people as possible.

Family member Donald Hess, who began collecting art as a child, initiated public access to his collections, which include works by Francis Bacon and Leopoldo Maler, with the 1989 opening of a museum at its winery in Napa Valley.

Now, as well as planning a fourth museum, Hess Family Estates is also working on ensuring easy access to the wines produced at its Californian operations for US consumers.

Its Napa winery, The Hess Collection, which is behind wines including Mount Veeder Chardonnay and The Lion, is extending its relationship with fellow family business Young's Market Company.

Young’s, controlled by the Underwood family, will take charge of distribution in Arizona and Washington, as well as California, Hawaii, Oregon, Alaska, Wyoming, Montana and Utah.

The two companies’ family values - integrity, quality and entrepreneurial spirit – as well as the close-knit teamwork approach taken by Young's is benefitting both businesses, said Gary Bulger, president of The Hess Collection.

Both businesses trace their histories back to the 1800s – perhaps as well as toasting the new partnership, they should raise a glass to their longevity.

And for those wondering, Donald continues to collect – maybe there might even be a 5th museum in the future.  

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