Heibel Ranch Vineyards

1458 Lincoln Ave, Railcar 12
Calistoga, CA 94515


Our History

George Bennet Heibel (pronounced ‘hi’ ‘bull’), was a man of character, honor and determination. The son of German immigrants, born in Victoria Texas, he was one of the youngest of fourteen children. As a young teenager he chose to leave Texas and move to California where he worked as a dishwasher at the famous Biltmore Hotel in Los Angeles. In 1934, now 23 years of age George moved north to San Francisco. Continuing to master the culinary trade, he earned the position of Chef of the Officer’s Dining Room and Head of Food Services at Fort Mason, San Francisco. Working in this role through World War II, while also starting a family of his own, he decided that the city was no place to raise a young family. In 1945, as the war came to an end, George purchased the historic Aetna Springs Resort and moved his family to Pope Valley, California.

Aetna Springs Resort dates back to 1873, and is home to what may be the oldest golf course in the state of California, built in 1892. The Heibel family owned and operated the resort for nearly 30 years, keeping it open seven days a week from Memorial Day to Labor Day. It was a lot of hard, but rewarding work, as Aetna Springs is a beautiful place and was a vacation destination for many families across the state. It was an idyllic natural retreat, offering some of California’s elite (actors and politicians) a refuge from the stresses of city life and an opportunity to “take in the waters” of Aetna Springs.

Decades passed, times changed, and so did the vacation patterns of the American people. Guests began to shorten their stays in lieu of other destinations more accessible with air travel and the rapidly developing Highway infrastructure across the United States. Ultimately, as the Heibel children became adults, moving away to start families of their own, the economic realities of running the resort mounted. In 1973, George decided that it was time to sell the resort, which he did, but not before selecting over 600 acres to keep for his family ranch. As life would have it, George and Ruth were only able to enjoy retirement together for a few short years, with George passing away in 1979 and Ruth in 1982.

As their estate was settled the land was divided into parcels and split between the five Heibel children. And this is how my mother, Helen Heibel Nelson, ended up owning 186 acres of rolling foothills, sequoia loaded mountains, bountiful springs, and two lakes; which we are lucky enough to call Heibel Ranch Vineyards! Our family vineyard and winery operation was conceptualized in 2000, planted in 2003, first harvest in 2006, and organically certified in 2007 … it has been over 10 years and we are just getting started! Please savor the results of our labor of love with a glass of our wine!

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