Alison Crary Rodriguez

Alison Crary Rodriguez

The Hess Collection (Winemaker)

Alison Crary Rodriguez grew up in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, and early on had an urge to explore the world, a trait fostered by a high-school German teacher. She entered Duke University in 1992 and earned her degree from there in 1996, having focused on International Relations. Her academic background and facility with German served her well when she accepted her first job in sales and marketing with Ernest & Julio Gallo Winery in mid-1996. Alison was posted to Europe, where she worked in Germany, Austria, and Switzerland for some five years.

Realizing that the marketing end of the wine industry was not how she wanted to spend her professional career, she earned a Dipl. Ing. degree in viticulture and enology in 2005 from the Fachhochschule Wiesbaden-Geisenheim in the Rheingau Valley. During her four years there, she held internships at Graf von Kanitz Winery, Rheingau, Manincor Winery, Suedtirol/Alto Adige, and Schloss Johannisberg, Geisenheim. These positions had her working with vineyard crews composed of individuals from Turkey, Poland, and Russia, as well as Germany. Suffice it to say, the experience quickly taught her the value of multicultural communication.

Alison returned to the U.S. in mid-2005, joining Gallo Sonoma as a harvest enologist. She moved on to Acacia Vineyard in the Carneros region as assistant winemaker in mid-2006 and then took a position as associate winemaker at Sterling Vineyards in the Napa Valley two years later. This was followed by a one-year stint as associate winemaker at Beringer Vineyards before becoming winemaker at The Hess Collection winery in Napa, her current position.

At Hess, Alison oversees the winemaking for the Allomi Cabernet Sauvignon and the Hess Select and Hess Shirtail ranches, working with fruit from estate vineyards as well as key grower vineyards throughout the North and Central coasts of California. One of her goals in winemaking it that, in her own words, “I like to think of people sharing a glass of wine together, and having that wine mean something special, if only to them at that moment.” With a mantra of continually seeking something new and different, and ultimately rewarding, she believes that winemaking is always evolving.