Wine World Loses Two Acclaimed Winemakers

Hanzell Vineyards' Bob Sessions and Domaine Weinbach's Laurence Faller are remembered for their achievements.


Hanzell Vineyards' Bob Sessions, who died at 82.

Pioneering winemaker Bob Sessions passed away on Tuesday at the age of 82 after a long bout with Alzheimer’s disease.

The winemaker emeritus for Hanzell Vineyards in Sonoma began his career in 1964 at Mayacamas Vineyards on Mount Veeder, where he met Brad Webb, the first winemaker at Hanzell.

Along the way Sessions made wine at Souverain Cellars in Rutherford and helped Warren Winiarski open Stag’s Leap Wine Cellars before being asked by Webb to interview for a job as winemaker and general manager at Hanzell, a role Sessions took on in 1973.

Since then, Hanzell has earned a worldwide reputation for producing elegant, ageworthy estate-grown Chardonnay and Pinot Noir. Sessions stepped away from day-to-day winemaking in 2002.

His wife, Jean Arnold Sessions, the longtime president of Hanzell, has been openly frank about the trials and tribulations of life with Alzheimer’s throughout her husband’s later years.

“To be part of his life and to live the ‘Hanzell Way’ that he created has taught me so much about life’s ethics and nuances,” she said. “He showed me greatness in wine and lived a majestic life in his own down-to-earth way.”

A public celebration will take place in June; details are to be announced soon.

On May 13, it was reported that Laurence Faller of Alsace’s Domaine Weinbach died of a suspected heart attack at the age of 47.

Acquired by the Faller family in 1898, Domaine Weinbach has been helmed since 1979—when patriarch Theo Faller passed away—by Laurence’s mother Collette Faller. Over time, Laurence became responsible for vineyard and winery operations, garnering critical acclaim along the way, while older sister Catherine managed sales.

Since the news broke, wine professionals around the world have been paying their respects via online channels, remembering Laurence’s talent as a winemaker. In a statement, Domaine Weinbach's importer Vineyard Brands said, “Rest in Peace Laurence Faller. You will be dearly missed. Thoughts and prayers to the family and all those at Domaine Weinbach.” —Joseph Hernandez

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