Chef Hendrickson Sets the Standard
at The Hess Collection
Trends often tend to come and go in Wine Country, and one of the hottest trends these days is food and wine pairings (or wine and cheese pairings) at numerous tasting rooms in both Sonoma and Napa counties. One tends to forget that the venerable Hess Collection on Mount Veeder in Napa has had an Executive Chef on staff since 2001 – some 12 years of enjoying wine, food and art all in one very gorgeous setting.
Executive Chef Chad Hendrickson arrives each day on Mount Veeder to lead the Hess culinary program, pairing wines from the Hess Collection with recipes featuring fresh seasonal and sustainable foods, most of which are grown right at the winery.
A graduate of the Culinary Institute of America in Hyde Park, New York, Chef Chad began his career in Los Angeles, honing his skills at such elite Hollywood restaurants as Café La Boheme and Le Bel Age Hotel.
After moving to Santa Barbara County and working at San Ysidro Ranch, he settled a little further north in the Napa Valley where he worked in the iconic Napa restaurant Brix and at the legendary Auberge du Soleil, before joining The Hess Collection in 2001.
At Hess, Chef Chad follows the tenets of the Seafood Watch program, and has planted an extensive organic garden just a few stepsaway from the winery kitchen door. Fruit trees, olive trees and an herb garden are also available on property. The Hess Collection website regularly features Chef Chad’s recipes and pairing suggestions, and Hess Collector’s Club members enjoy the opportunity to experience his creations at regular wine club events.
For the Wine Country visitor, however, there are numerous options at Hess Collection for a more comprehensive tasting experience. While most of the tours require advance reservations, it is certainly worth a phone call or email to enjoy any one of the tours available throughout the year.
The most notable experience is the Tour of the Palate, available only on Thursday, Friday and Saturday at 2 p.m. at a cost of $85 per person. Guests will enjoy a guided tour of The Hess Collection Contemporary Art Museum followed by a tasting of three current release wines expertly paired with three exquisite creations from Executive Chef Hendrickson. The Tour of the Palate menu, on a recent visit to the winery, included a pan seared fennel dusted day boat scallop, red watercress, frisee, grilled asparagus, Easter egg radishes, navel oranges with a wildflower honey citrus vinaigrette paired with the 2011 Napa Valley Chardonnay.
Next was country pork pâté and duck rillettes, Fiscalini Farms San Joaquin Gold Wholegrain Mustard, and pickled onions paired with the 2009 Artezin Napa Valley Charbono. The tasting was completed with grilled Black Angus beef skirt steak with brown clamshell mushrooms, fava beans, Bloomsdale spinach, roasted fennel, spring onion and sweet pepper relish, paired beautifully with the 2009 Mount Veeder Cabernet Sauvignon.
Another highly recommended tour is the Wine & Chocolate Experience which is offered daily for $65 per person, and again, with advance reservations. Enjoy a tour of The Hess Collection, followed by a current release wine tasting of four wines paired with artisan truffles developed and handcrafted with TCHO Chocolate by the Hess Pastry Chef and Chocolatier, Emma Kate Veader. This is a unique and educational experience with one-of-a-kind chocolates that pair exceptionally well with the wines.
If it is wine and cheese you are after, then by all means sign up for the Wine & Cheese Pairing that takes place daily for $65 per person. Guests will enjoy an educational wine production tour with your own private host from The Hess Collection, followed by a current release wine presentation paired with artisan cheeses served with seasonal fruits and nuts selected by Executive Chef Hendrickson. Or, when the weather’s nice, enjoy Wine & Cheese Tasting In The Garden Courtyard. Taste underneath vines of wisteria, surrounded by contemporary sculptures and beautifully landscaped gardens. Cost is $10 for the Mount Veeder wine sampler and $30 for a six ounce cheese plate with crackers, dried fruits and nuts, weather permitting.
The Hess Collection Winery and Art Museum are open daily for public visits, tours and tastings. Groups up to eight people are invited to taste four current release wines, many of which are available only at the winery, for $10 per person. Larger groups are asked call (707) 255-8584 or email firstname.lastname@example.org to make a reservation.