The Beginning of a Champagne Legacy

Posted by on Nov 17, 2017 in Family History | No Comments

Korbel- The Beginning of a Champagne Legacy

Most know Pam Bacigalupi for the important role she plays as a part of Bacigalupi Vineyards. Working alongside her husband John, Pam is the main contact for the many wineries who source fruit from the Bacigalupi’s. But Pam’s family history has its own story to tell. Pam’s father Paul Robert Heck was a third-generation descendant of winemakers from Alsace-Lorraine, France. Born in Chicago in 1918 Paul’s legacy began with his father, Adolf Ludwig Heck Senior, born in 1890 and migrated to the US in the early 1900s.  Paul’s father reopened Cooks Imperial Champagne Cellars in St. Louis for the American Wine Company after Prohibition.

Paul attended the University of Missouri where as a fine horseman, he joined the polo team when he realized there wasn’t a basketball program. World War II cut his university studies short when after Pearl Harbor, he joined the Army. Paul quickly rose to the rank of Major and served on the staff of General George Patton.

Returning home in 1945, Paul got his start in the wine business working for his father at the American Wine Company.  In 1948, he and his wife Anna Marie moved to Lodi where Paul worked for Italian Swiss Colony as production manager. He later became manager for all Italian Swiss Colony production in California eventually relocating to Asti in 1951. The in 1954 Paul, his brother Adolf Jr and their families purchased Korbel Champagen Cellars. Along with his brother Adolf Jr., Paul and their families purchased Korbel Champagne Cellars in 1954. As executive vice president he oversaw the daily operations of both the winery and vineyards. He was also heavily involved in the brandy program including the sampling of the grapes, blending and packaging.  Paul was credited with bringing new technique to the operation, contributing to Korbel’s world-wide reputation.

As one of the North Coast’s pioneering vintners, Paul was active in the Sonoma County Winegrowers, Sonoma County Wine Association, American Society of Oenologists, and served as a consultant to the viticulture program at UC Davis. In his personal life Paul was known to be a dynamic individual. Standing 6’3 he had a demanding presence in every room and a larger than life sense of humor. He was admired and well respected by all who knew him.

After much thought and deliberation we reached a namesake that has a duel meaning in his honor, Brillante. Brillante, Italian for “brilliant” is Pam’s dedication to her father and the impact that he had on the champagne industry in Sonoma County. It pays respects to his inspiration, dynamism and positive nature as well as the wines radiant and scintillating appearance and experience it presents in the glass.


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