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Hess Collection Acquires MacPhail Family Wines

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Small-lot Pinot Noir specialist James MacPhail has been producing high-end wines under the MacPhail Family Wines label since 2002. The wines, predominantly vineyard-designates from Sonoma Coast and Anderson Valley, routinely score in the low-to-mid 90’s with popular wine reviewing publications. 2009 releases include Pinot Noir from Gap's Crown, Wightman House, Toulouse, and Raye's Hill vineyards. MacPhail production is 4,000 cases per year and the Pinot Noir prices range from $39 to $59. Today, MacPhail and The Hess Collection announced that the latter is buying the MacPhail Family Wines brand and inventory for an undisclosed sum.

James MacPhail has been working with The Hess Collection since 2007, creating their Sequana Vineyards brand to produce single-vineyard Pinot Noir. There are three Sequana Vineyards wines: Sundawg Ridge and Dutton Ranch, both from Green Valley of Russian River Valley, and Sarmento from the Santa Lucia Highlands. Sequana production is roughly 11,000 cases per year with prices ranging from $32 to $50. James MacPhail will continue to serve as winemaker for both Sequana Vineyards and MacPhail Family Wines.

The acquisition of MacPhail Family Wines brings the total number of top-level brands in the broadly international Hess Collection to nine. They include Amalaya (Malbec-based blends from Argentina), Artezin (North Coast Zinfandel and Petite Sirah), Brancaia (Chianti Classico), Colomé (biodynamically grown Malbec and Torrontes from Argentina and home to the world’s highest altitude vineyard), Glen Carlou (Paarl Valley, South Africa), Hess (predominantly wines from Mount Veeder and Napa Valley), Peter Lehmann (a legendary producer from the Barossa Valley, Australia), Sequana Vineyards and now MacPhail.

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The Hess Collection is a subsidiary of Hess Family which, in addition to the wineries, owns a number of commercial and residential properties around the world. These include a hotel, restaurants, art museums and more. Hess Family is in turn owned by Hess Holding SA, a privately held Swiss company. The Hess family business began in 1844 with a brewery in Berne, Switzerland. Donald Hess, the 9th-generation brewmaster took over the family business in the 1960’s. He expanded into the water business (Valser Wasser, since sold) soon thereafter. The company added wine to the portfolio in 1978 when it took on the Christian Brothers’ land on Mount Veeder. That property now houses The Hess Collection winery and art museum. Donald Hess retired from daily management of the businesses in June of this year, but is still Chairman of the Board for the various companies.

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