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Donald Hess Retiring From Hess Family Estates After Illustrious Career

May 9, 2011

Donald Hess, who’s led his family-owned business for more than 50 years, is retiring from day-to-day management of Hess Family Estates and other family ventures effective June 30. Hess will remain chairman of the board of Hess Holding SA, Hess Family Estates Ltd, Hess Collection SA and the Hess Art Collection Ltd, which oversee the various Hess enterprises. He’ll be succeeded by Christoph Ehrbar and Timothy Persson. Christoph Ehrbar, who has been serving as personal assistant to Donald Hess and as general manager of Hess Family Latin America, has been named an executive board member and will oversee day to day operations of the Hess companies beginning July 1. He’ll work closely with Persson, who previously was with London-based law firm Slaughter & May and is expected to join Hess’s board after spending time at each of the Hess Family Estates wineries as a consultant.

Hess began leading his family business when he was 20, following the death of his father. In this role, he initially ran a small Swiss brewery and apple juice producer, along with hotels and related businesses. Later, Hess built the Valser Water Company into an industry powerhouse, and while exploring options for the water company in California, became enchanted with the quality and potential for mountain vineyards in the Napa Valley. In 1978, he acquired 300 acres on Mount Veeder, with just 40 planted to vines. From there, he built The Hess Collection into one of the Napa wine trade’s most storied names.

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