Hester Hodde

One from the Heart

As I sat at Starbucks, waiting for Hester Hodde to arrive, I had a mixed bag of ideas in my mind as to what to expect. Kathi Bateson, CEO of Coastal Carolina Arts Center, had told me she is dynamic and vivacious. In addition, I was also aware that she is a long-time Hilton Head Island resident with years of experience as a wine connoisseur. The truth is, she is all of this and more, a delightful combination of it all!  

How, when and why did you come to Hilton Head Island?
Hester: I came to this beautiful island as a new bride in 1984. My husband, Bob, and his family had been vacationing here since 1965. He worked at Sea Pines Realty with Charles Fraser in the very early days. I lived in Charlotte and was working for CBS TV. We both loved the Island and so this became our home. We have a daughter who is 23 and a son who is 20.

  "One From The Heart" shares stories about women who are not only interesting, but also have a heart for volunteerism. I know you have a very active volunteer history. What are some of the things you have done (and still do), that stand out in your mind?
Hester: Well, since the beginning I have been active in St. Luke's Episcopal Church. I was also very involved in the original Sea Pines Montessori School when my children were students there. When they were at Hilton Head Prep, I served on that school board for seven years. I also serve on the Grants Committee for Women in Philanthropy.
Bob owns Hodde Realty in Sea Pines and I am the office manager. He and I, among many others, of course, were part of the founding group for the Arts Center. In fact, we were involved before there was an Arts Center. My daughter played the part of Gretl in "The Sound of Music" at the old Dunnagan's Alley location. I guess that really goes back. I am very proud of that role because I feel that the Arts Center is a critical part of what makes Hilton Head Island the special place that it is. The vibrant arts community adds another dimension to the natural beauties of the Island. The Center is not just about people buying tickets for shows. Their Outreach Program touches the lives of so many children who would otherwise never have the opportunity to have creative arts experiences.

  Speaking of the Outreach Program, the upcoming Wine Auction benefits that program, does it not? Tell me a bit about the auction.
Hester: The Wine Auction is Saturday, March 19 and it is an unbelievable event! We erect a large tent at the Center and hope to have upwards of 400 guests. There is a silent auction and wine tasting table set up in the first tent, then we move into a huge second tent for a seated four-course dinner and live auction, featuring vacations, fabulous items, and of course, the wine itself. We will have 20-25 lots of absolutely wonderful wine. Most of our wines are highly collectable. Just to give you an example of the quality of the wine, we have several bottles that are valued at $2,500 each.
   This sounds like a very formal affair.
Hester: It is. It is truly a lovely and memorable evening and the proceeds from this event support the Arts Center Outreach Program, as I said earlier. That program brings school children, clients from Programs for Exceptional People and many others to the Arts Center for art lessons, theater experiences and so much more. It enables the Center to weave so many elements into the fabric of our community. It is the most win/win scenario you can ever imagine.

P:   What exactly is your role?
Hester: I am the chairperson of the wine acquisition committee for the live auction. My dear friend and old college sorority sister, Leslie Richardson, asked me to participate several years ago and I guess I never looked back. She is such a good friend and passionate volunteer, I could not say no.

P:   How did you ever start with your interest in wines and how did you become such an authority?
Hester: I came to wine through food. I love to cook, and I really mean I LOVE to cook. Wine became a part of that. I try new things, read everything I can and have traveled extensively in California, France, Italy and I guess anywhere there is a wine region. I am also president of the Wine Society of the South Carolina Yacht Club, which I enjoy so much.

P:   What would you recommend for those who would like to get more serious about wine?
Hester: I would recommend a book called The Complete Windows on the World Wine Course by Kevin Zraly. Also, subscribing to "Wine Spectator Magazine". One should have a real key to recent vintages, but also wine as a whole - not only recommendations and descriptions, but an overview also of what grapes make particular wines, special regions and what foods and wines complement each other. If you really want to get into wine, it is a fascinating hobby and the wine auction is a perfect way to either make a start or continue a passion.

What an interesting lady. She does "all of the above," and also plays tennis, boats, runs, and does yoga. You have heard the expression Renaissance man but here is a true Renaissance woman!