You started off in the cookware business. How did that begin? "I was born in 1948 [in Hong Kong], the fifth of seven children. In 1967, during the Cultural Revolution, there was a major exodus from Hong Kong. I went to the University of Oregon [in the United States] to study business, then, two years later, switched to mechanical engineering. My father had an aluminium factory in Kwun Tong making coils, sheets, flashlights, cabinet hinges and spring press ashtrays. In 1964, Teflon had just come out and it was something the world needed. So while I was studying, my father and I decided to go into cookware and we called the brand Meyer. When I returned to Hong Kong, in 1971, we reconfigured the factory and installed new equipment. It took us three years to break even and I was lucky to have infrastructure in place as leverage for a head start."

When you bought property near the Napa Valley, was it your intention to make wine? "Wine is my interest and even when I was studying at university I liked going to the Napa Valley, because it's so beautiful and has nice restaurants and houses. In Hong Kong, we yearn for space, which is why I bought this land, although [I wasn't] being single-minded about planting vines. I have a number of interests - flying gliders and building model airplanes, one-third the size of real ones, and flying them at 100 miles per hour and getting them to do aerobatics. I like fishing and skeet shooting, too."

How did your winery develop? "In 1992, we moved to Vallejo [at the mouth of the Napa river]. I purchased a vineyard and named it Hestan Vineyards after my and my wife Helen's names. We have 127 acres, 60 of which were used to plant grapes. We started planting around 1997 and we have just planted the last plot of 20 acres. We have an 11-acre lake [which is] our reservoir, but, because of the drought in California, we only have 15 per cent of our water left. I'll have to figure out what to do because we don't get agricultural water from the state.

"We harvest our grapes at night because it's colder and [makes for] better quality produce. It takes three years before you can harvest, then there's one year in the barrel. The first vintage of grenache, I planted five years ago and it came out last year. And now the second vintage is bottled. This year we bought 6½ tonnes of pinot noir grapes because it's too warm to grow them in California. We're going to make 350 cases of premium pinot noir."

How did you react when critic Robert Parker rated your first wines? "It was unbelievable - we were new out of the gate. My winemaker called me and said, 'Are you sitting down? Your wine got 95 points from Robert Parker.' I was like, 'What!' We thought it tasted good …"

How did your wine get served to then Chinese president Hu Jintao? "We introduced ourselves to the White House and they later contacted us, asking us to send some samples. They liked the 2007 Hestan chardonnay and served it at the [2011] state dinner. I think the White House wanted to serve something with a story behind it, with a Chinese person, and evidently Michelle Obama loves our wines.

"A year ago the White House sommelier came to our estate and tasted some wines. Our 2012 chardonnay was served at a welcome dinner for Xi Jinping, before the state dinner. It's an honour to be picked by the White House."

Have your three children followed you into the business? "Vincent and Christopher are working with me while Stephanie is at [food technology company] Hampton Creek, where Li Ka-shing is an investor. I tried to register all our family names for wine names, but only Stephanie's was [available]. She used to play the harp for the California youth orchestra and so the harp on the wine label is the one we have at home. It's not that I favour her over them!"