This March my grandfather, Paul Heck would have turned 91 years old. Even though I never met him there are things about his life and the way that he did business in the wine industry that I try in emulate in my own actions as I learn “the ropes.”
I think that what most people want to do in life. They want to find a craft, something that they are really good at, try to find a way to earn a living practicing that craft and find someone to share it with. Let’s face it, life doesn’t mean much if you can’t share it with the ones you love.
Finally and most importantly is to leave something behind for the next generation to carry on with. In his forward thinking and love of the wine industry, my grandfather saw an opportunity in purchasing Korbel
from the Korbel brothers.
The Korbel brothers first produced wine in 1881. In early 1954 Anton and Leo Korbel and the other members of the Korbel family sold the corporation to Adolf L. and Paul R. Heck, brothers and wine makers, originally from St. Louis and formerly president and production manager of Italian Swiss Colony. Adolf Heck became president of Korbel as well as the winemaker and Paul Heck, the executive vice-president.
Left to right: Pierre Jalbert, Ben Heck, Paul Heck
Life at Korbel was never dull, in fact Combat! (a popular TV series from the 1960s ) filmed a sequence at the winery. My grandfather and brothers, were happy to host the cast and crew. The cast of Combat!enjoyed their trips to Korbel, especially since my grandpa provided them with wine and started their mornings with Mimosas, which explains many of the expressions in these photos.
One benefit that Korbel received from hosting the episodes on their property was free demolition. There were a lot of old redwood stumps that my grandfather wanted removed to plant vineyard. So during filming that is exactly what you see. So, when next you view an episode filmed at Korbel and see one of the spectacular explosions, you’ll know that those flying splinters are not European Oak, but California Redwood.