Harrison Heitz

Sales and Marketing, Heitz Cellar

Harrison is ambidextrous, meaning he can open a bottle of wine with either hand when he needs to. And his family’s strategy for standing out in the crowd hasn’t changed in 54 years.

What are the most rewarding aspects of your work?

It’s great to hear stories from people around the world who celebrate all kinds of milestones and occasions with Heitz wines. When they share their special memories, I realize the positive, far-reaching impact of our small family business.

What are the greatest challenges?

The greatest challenge for any business is trying to stand out in the crowd year after year. Our team stays focused on a simple strategy: quality and consistency. That is our 54-year legacy, and it is also our vision for the future.

Our motto at the NVV is "cultivating excellence." What does this phrase mean to you and how do you cultivate excellence at your winery?

We believe our commitment to quality is the best path to excellence. Our family started out with the goal of trying to make the best Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon, and our team is still motivated by that idea today. We have tried to establish a dynamic workplace where innovation and initiative are encouraged. As part of that philosophy, our winemaking team recently updated their laboratory to make it easier to conduct experiments and monitor quality. Over the years, our wines have been internationally recognized for their excellence. We always take time to celebrate achievement with our team and to single out individuals who helped make it happen. Then we remind ourselves not to rest on our laurels.

What do you think makes Napa Valley unique compared to other wine regions?

There is a spirit of cooperation in Napa Valley that makes us greater than the sum of our natural resources. Our vintners set the tone in 1968 when they banded together to create the first Ag Preserve in the country, and since then we have become industry leaders in sustainable farming. The Napa Valley Vintners also set the benchmark for supporting community health and education by creating their legendary auction. Now that event is the template for successful fundraising everywhere.

What are you doing at your winery to help preserve and enhance Napa Valley for the future?

When my grandparents established Heitz Wine Cellars in 1961, there were fewer than 20 wineries in the Napa Valley. They were early believers that Napa Valley wines could compete on the world stage. My grandfather, Joe Heitz, was a visionary who took the lead in pursuing higher quality, and he commanded pricing that reflected greater parity with European wines. Our family was also one of the first to export our wines, which helped to bring international acclaim to Napa Valley.