Thomas William (Tom) Heineman passed away peacefully at home on Nov. 5, 2019, at the age of 77. He was born on April 18, 1942, in Des Moines, Iowa. He lived in Livermore, Calif., with Patricia (Pat) his wife of 54 years. Tom will be remembered as a remarkable man with a generous spirit and many talents and interests.
Tom graduated from San Jose State University with a degree in Education. He was hired by the Livermore Valley Unified School District as an elementary teacher. He continued his education at San Jose State earning a master’s degree in Education. After teaching for several years he was appointed the Coordinator of Instructional Materials for the school district. He was later selected as the Director of Curriculum and Instructional Resources. He retired from education in 1998.
Tom had always wanted to own some land and in 1981 he and Pat purchased 12 acres in Livermore with the idea of growing grapes for local wineries. They took viticulture classes from the University of California at Davis and planted Bent Creek Vineyard. After selling their grapes to Livermore wineries for several years, Tom and Pat decided to open a winery with their friends Carol and Rich Howell. The four friends went to UC Davis for enology classes. They began making wine from Bent Creek grapes. Bent Creek Winery opened in 2002. Soon they were producing award-winning wine.
Tom had many interests. One of his passions was restoring cars and trucks from the 1950s. There was usually a “project car” in the driveway or garage. He was also a talented designer and builder and took pride in his work. He enjoyed traveling with Pat throughout the United States, Canada, Europe and Asia. He was known for his generosity and willingness to help others. Tom was happiest when he was surrounded by his friends and his vineyard.
Tom is survived by his devoted wife Pat, his niece Julie Basurto and his nephew John Tramel. Tom will be remembered by family, friends and colleagues for his warm, generous spirit.
There will be a Celebration of Tom’s Life on Friday, Nov. 22, at 1 p.m., at Bent Creek Winery. In lieu of flowers, please donate to the Livermore Valley Education Foundation.