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Donald Hess retires

Donald Hess has announced his retirement after more than 50 years managing his family’s portfolio of estates.

Image: Hess Art Museums

Hess, now 75, will remain chairman of the board of his numerous enterprises, including some eight wineries on four continents, and one of the world’s major collections of contemporary art.

From the beginning of July Christoph Ehrbar, personal assistant to Hess and general manager of Hess Family Latin America, will oversee operations of the Hess companies.

Current consultant Timothy Persson, formerly of London-based law firm Slaughter & May, will also become a board member.

Donald Hess took over his family’s small Swiss brewery and apple juice factory, along with hotels and related businesses, at the age of 20, following the sudden death of his father.

He later built the Valser Water Company, one of the family holdings, into the largest mineral water producer in Switzerland, before selling to Coca-Cola in 2002.

While exploring options for that company in California he noticed and eventually acquired 364ha on Napa’s Mount Veeder, establishing The Hess Collection at a former Christian Brothers winery, later adding the Hess Art Museum.

Hess Family Estates includes California wineries The Hess Collection, Artezin and Sequana, Argentina’s Colomé and Amalaya, Glen Carlou from Paarl, South Africa and Peter Lehmann wines of Australia’s Barossa Valley.

NB: Decanter.com apologises for an earlier inaccuracy. Donald Hess is not connected to Brancaia in Italy which is owned by the Swiss Widmer family.

Written by David Furer

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