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Wine Country Innovator Donald Hess Dies at 86

The businessman and founder of Hess Persson Estates died peacefully at his home in Switzerland

A man in a field.
Donald Hess died on Sunday, January 28.
Hess Persson Estates
Paolo Bicchieri is a reporter at Eater SF writing about Bay Area restaurant and bar trends, coffee and cafes, and pop-ups.

Donald Hess, known for his extensive art collection and business Hess Persson Estates, died at age 86. The Napa Valley innovator died at his home in Bern, Switzerland surrounded by family on Sunday, January 29. The San Francisco Chronicle writes that his business, started 45 years ago as Hess Collection Winery, is well-known for combining art and wine. But the Swiss-born entrepreneur started in a different lane, selling Switzerland’s first non-alcoholic beer before going into mineral water.

By the 1970s Hess had made it to Napa Valley and fit in well amongst the experimental wine makers of the time — by the time he died, Hess’ winery consisted of more than 900 acres of vines through four vineyards. Dave Guffy, winemaker at Hess since 1999, said his boss was known for his “Donaldisms,” or little phrases he could quip at a moment’s notice. “Live each day with the courage of a lion,” was one such ongoing mantra. He is survived by his wife, Ursula; his daughter, Alexandra; stepdaughters Larissa and Sabrina; and five grandchildren.

Oakland Chinatown swag rolls out in time for Lunar New Year

Daphne Wu’s Cut Fruit Collective, a nonprofit dedicated to supporting Chinatowns in the Bay Area, just released an apparel series to raise money for Chinese American citizens. KQED writes Wu wanted to co-create with Chinatown artists; Finnie Phung, the owner of Green Fish Seafood Market in Oakland, worked with Wu to design a sweater paying homage to her business.

Little Red Door heads to Healdsburg

Yes, Little Red Door — a Parisian bar recognized nine times as one of the World’s Best Bars — will come to San Francisco’s True Laurel on February 7. But the bar will also head to Healdsburg on February 9 to preview its offerings for a festival in May. The second annual Healdsburg Food & Wine Experience will take place from Thursday, May 18 through Sunday, May 21. The February 9 preview is already sold out, but tickets for the festival are available now.

This Brisbane bar and restaurant turns 165

7 Mile Bakehouse is known for many things, including its dog-friendly Niners watch parties, its ube baking competitions, and being very, very old. The business is getting even older as it celebrates its 165th birthday on Saturday, February 4. From 11 to 11:30 a.m. owner Vanessa Garcia will speak to fans about the history of 7 Mile, and from 11:30 to 9 p.m. free adobo and $1.65 shots of Jack Daniel’s will be on the menu.

True Laurel

753 Alabama Street, , CA 94110 (415) 341-0020 Visit Website