The Hanzell Vineyards is located in the Mayacamas Mountains north of the city of Sonoma in California Sonoma County
(Region North Coast
). It was founded by former US Ambassador to Italy James David Zellerbach (1892-1963) after his retirement. The name "Hanzell" was formed from the first letters of the first name of his wife Hana and the family name. In 1948, Zellerbach bought a property of 80 hectares. His goal was to build a winery based on the Burgundian model and to produce top-quality wines in the Burgundian style. The winery actually evokes associations with the famous Château du Vougeot. The first vines of the Chardonnay and Pinot Noir varieties were planted on 2.5 hectares in 1953. The first harvest took place four years later in 1957. Zellerbach introduced steel tanks and began to develop wines from the two grape varieties in barriques. The wooden barrels from Burgundy were introduced for the first time in California.
Although Zellerbach could only produce a total of six vintages until his imminent death, he set a widely recognized and imitated quality standard. After Zellerbach's death there were several owners, but the high quality of the wines remained unchanged. The estate has been owned by the de Brye family since 1975 and has been Alexander de Brye since 1991. The cellar master Bob Sessions made a significant contribution to the success of the house, he held this function from 1973 to 2001. Michael Terrien was hired as his successor, and his daughter Jean Arnold Sessions has since been president of the company. The vineyards cover 17 hectares of vineyards. Eleven are planted with Chardonnay and six with Pinot Noir. Around 6,000 boxes (72,000 bottles) of wine are produced annually.