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Heitz Joseph

Joseph "Joe" Heitz (1919-2000), who was born in Illinois, is considered one of the pioneers of the terroir concept in California along with Robert Mondavi (1913-2008). In his youth he worked as a helper on a winery and discovered his enthusiasm for viticulture. After studying oenology at the University of California, he worked on various wineries, such as Beaulieu Vineyard. There he spent seven years and assisted for some time the famous oenologist André Tchelistcheff (1901-1994). In 1961, he set up his own business and bottled bought-up wines, which he marketed under his label. In 1964 Joe and his wife Alice acquired a small vineyard with a stone cellar built in 1898 east of St. Helena in Napa Valley, California. The stone cellar is still the significant landmark of the winery today. Heitz began experimenting with the seven hectares of Pinot Noir and Chardonnay planted by the previous owner, which were still a rarity in California at the time, and produced Burgundy style wine with barrique ageing

In 1974 he presented Cabernet Sauvignon wines from individual vineyards belonging to three friendly families. These were Bella Oaks Vineyard (Rutherford), Fay Vineyard and Martha's Vineyard (Oakville). Especially the latter caused a great stir and developed into a cult wine. Later also Trailside Vineyard (Rutherford) was added. Besides the Fay Vineyard, these wines are still produced today. Most Heitz wines mature for at least three years in barriques, using barrels of different origins (America, France). Today the "Heitz Wine Cellars" winery is run by the children David Heitz (cellarmaster) and Kathleen Heitz-Myers (biologist). It covers about 140 hectares, which are mainly planted with Cabernet Sauvignon, Chardonnay, Pinot Noir and Grignolino. A rosé and a dessert wine á la Port are also produced from the latter grape variety.

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