Bob Sessions dies aged 82

15th May, 2014 by Rupert Millar

One of California’s great winemakers, Bob Sessions, has died aged 82.

Bob sessions

credit: Hanzell Vineyards

Sessions (above left) made his name at Hanzell Vineyards in Sonoma where he was head winemaker from 1973 to 2001 when he retired having gained a formidable reputation for producing top Californian Chardonnay and Pinot Noir.

He began his career in 1964 at Mayacamas Vineyards working his way up the ladder from “cellar rat” to winemaker before moving on to Souverain (now Rutherford Hill Winery) in 1972.

He also helped Warren Winiarski open Stag’s Leap Wine Cellars and Winiarski commented: “Personally, to me, his friendship, warm-hearted support and marvellous, ever-generous sense of humour were great comforts in those sometimes difficult pioneering days. His life will be remembered with fondness and gratitude.”

Hanzell’s owner, Alexander de Brye added: “Bob was a close friend and confidant to my family. He was loved very much and will be remembered for his kindness, gentle warm spirit, and of course for his passion for wine and Hanzell.”

Unfortunately, in the last 10 years of his life Sessions’ mental health declined due to Alzheimer’s until, in his wife Jean’s words, he “forgot about wine” – as in how to make it – and eventually he was moved into a care home, albeit one with a view of a vineyard from his room.

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