Behind every bottle of wine there is a story, there are people and there are places. Each winery has its own unique story and Hestan is no exception to the rule. Hestan Vineyards was founded in 1996 by Stanley and Helen Cheng ("Hestan" being the result of the combination of their names) who purchased this 121-acre property on the eastern slopes of NapaValley with the goal of growing and making wines to satisfy their tastes in Bordeaux-style wines. They began planting grapes in 1997, adding blocks over the years. Today, 56 acres are planted with all of Bordeaux’s principle red varietals: Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Petit Verdot, Cabernet Franc and Malbec.
If you are familiar with brands like KitchenAid, Anolon, Farberware and Bonjour, then you already know a little bit about Stanley Cheng, the CEO of Meyer Corporation (America's No. 1 cookware company). Knowing this and loving all Hestan wines, it was a true honor for me to be asked to photograph their estate and vineyards a couple of weeks ago. That morning I hit the road around 5:30am because I wanted to get there before sunrise when the light is most flattering. Unfortunately it turned out to be one of those Napa Valley overacast mornings. Regardless of the weather, the winding country road to the property was already telling me that there was something memorable awaiting.
There is something extremely special and quite magical about this place. From rolling hills covered with row upon row of grape vines to an 11-acre lake (their reservoir) in the middle of the property. When I first got there I really didn't know where to start photographing! There was beauty everywhere I looked! This is the type of place that invites you to take a break and just feel the energy and nature that surrounds you, and that's precisely what I did first. I explored the property... walked... observed... admired the reflections of the sky and the trees on the lake... the lovely scent of fresh cut grass... the breeze... the sound of the birds and the wind... the picturesque landscape. The place was full of life with hundreds of colorful flowers planted around the house and roses everywhere you looked! The more I walked the property the more I was immersed in the sights and sounds of Italy, perhaps somewhere in Tuscany.
You can tell that Stanley Cheng, like most entrepreneurs, never sits still for very long and is always thinking about his next project. Besides his work life, he has been developing his multiple passions and showcasing them in every corner of the property. A paved landing strip for launching his model airplanes as well as a skeet shooting pavilion, which also works as an event space with beautiful views of the lake. There’s also a five hole course incorporated into the vineyard design with paved pathways that allow golf carts to explore the property.
Besides the owner's house there is another main building in the property called "The Barn". The Barn is where a dynamic collective of chefs (including acclaimed chefs from Michelin starred restaurants) vintners, pioneering software developers and meticulous designers gather to share meals and ideas. Just imagine the wonderful aromas that come though that door! The Barrel Room is also inside this building and it has access to a beautiful terrace with breathtaking views of the vineyards and the rolling hills of Gordon Valley down to the lake.
Here are some photos from that day. Enjoy!