​​​​​Gary Heck​​​​​Gary Heck
Businessman/Community Leader

​Sonoma State University

Gary Heck, owner of Korbel Champagne Cellars, has served as its president since 1982. He became Chairman of the Board in 1984, continuing the legacy of his father. He has built Korbel into the leading premium California champagne producer in this country. In a separate facility, Korbel also produces one of the country's most respected brandies. His dedication to quality, both in the vineyard and in the cellar, is at the heart of his distinguished award-winning portfolio.

Mr. Heck has enjoyed a long-standing relationship with Sonoma State University since 1996. He currently serves as Chairman of the Board of Directors of Sonoma State's Wine Business Institute. In the past 17 years he has served through numerous leadership changes in the School of Business and Economics and at the Institute, yet his support and belief in the mission of the university has never wavered. Mr. Heck's support of the Institute has been pivotal. Four years ago, he created the F. Korbel Brothers, Inc. Professorship in Wine Business, a position now held by Dr. Liz Thach. This was the first industry-supported professorship at Sonoma State and the first from a wine industry company. Most recently, Mr. Heck made a generous $1 million commitment to support the new home of the Wine Business Institute.

In addition to his work with Korbel and Sonoma State University, he has served as chairman of the board of the Wine Institute, the trade association of California wineries, and continues to be active on its board. He is Supreme Knight of the Brotherhood of the Knights of the Vine, an organization whose goals are to promote American wines and wine-producing regions, to introduce and recognize quality wines from around the world and to rekindle the respect of wine and wine culture for humanity and country. Mr. Heck is also a member of Les Amis du Vin, an organization whose goal is to provide a forum for the appreciation of fine wine and food.

In recognition of his commitment to quality in business, his community involvement and generous support of the university, the California State University and Sonoma State University are proud to confer on Gary Heck an honorary degree of Doctor of Humane Letters.