Paul Heck has had winemaking and viticulture in his blood since the day he was born. His legacy in the industry began in the area of Alsace Loraine, with his father Adolf Ludwig Heck who immigrated to the United States at the turn of the 20th century.
After the repeal of prohibition Adolf Sr. became manager of the American Wine Company in St. Louis Mo. He later succeeded in reestablishing and managing the Cook’s Imperial Champagne Cellars and the Cooks label.
Paul’s aspirations to succeed in the wine business derived from his father and he ran a number of wineries before moving to California in the early 1950’s and taking over as manager at Italian Swiss Colony. Paul also embraced the dream of one day owning his own winery where he could perfect his California style of French Champagne production. He believed this style to be more accentuating to the fruit flavors resulting in a champagne more suited to the American palate.
In 1953 word arose that the Korbel brothers had decided to sell their winery in Guerneville. Paul and his brother Adolf along with Carl Wente purchased the winery. From there began the renovation and expansion of the facility. Paul continued his interest in the champagne and brandy enterprises as well as still wines. His fondness for the Pinot varietal was well known, as exemplified by the name of his favorite horse, Pinot.
Paul and his wife Anna Marie and Adolf with his wife Richie eventually purchased Carl Wente’s share of the winery and gained complete ownership of Korbel. Paul gained the reputation of a smart yet generous business man however, this was to eventually be his downfall. A disagreement regarding a loan versus the sale of stock led to a lengthy court battle between the two brothers resulting in Paul losing his share of the winery. Following the trial and verdict Paul soon feel ill from complications of diabetes and died at the age of 59. Although his life was short lived Paul’s contributions to the wine industry will not soon be forgotten and his memory lives on today, in John Tyler Wines.