I am not one that looks to “break news”—there are plenty of other blogs out there that aim to do that. I am much more focused on telling a story or two, hopefully eliciting a laugh or at least a smile. As a result, I generally prefer wines from smaller operations—where it is not uncommon to have face-to-face interactions with the owners/winemakers. (It is also quite possible that the reverse is true—that I prefer small wineries and as a result, there are stories to tell—but I have no idea which came first).
So what is the news? Well, many of you out there no doubt have already heard that Adam and Dianna Lee, owners of one of the premier independent wineries, Siduri Wines, sold their winery to Jackson Family Wines. Adam plans to stay on as winemaker for at least three years, while Dianna will be stepping down from her role with the winery. (Read more about the sale HERE).
This is great news for both parties involved–Jackson Family Wines gets a marquee label and Adam and Dianna get, I assume, oodles of cash.
So this is a win-win, right?
More on that later.
Siduri was really one of the first Pinot-focused wineries that I visited and embraced. Although Adam occasionally takes a bit of heat from some in the industry that claim that his Pinots are too big, fruity, and high in alcohol, I have been a big fan of Siduri for as long as I can remember.
I have met Adam a couple of times, and shared more than a couple of glasses with him at a party at Clos Pepe last summer. Adam is an engaging character and a lot of fun to be around, so I could not be happier for him.
Siduri owns no vineyards—they source their fruit from dozens of locations from the Sta Rita Hills near Santa Barbara in Southern California all the way up to the Willamette Valley in Oregon. Adam makes dozens of different wines, and all of them are well-done, balanced wines that really highlight the fruit.
The Lees have three kids (between 8 and 15) and with Adam out on the road all the time checking on the vineyards and selling wine, well, I get the whole family side of things. If I were in Adam’s position, I would have likely sold a long time ago and would be off riding my bike in the Alps.
So a big congratulations again to Dianna and Adam.
From a consumer standpoint, however, I approach the news with a bit of apprehension since I feel like I have been down this road before–how many small-ish wineries have risen to “fame” based on the quality of their wines, and are then sold only to see that quality take a hit as the new owners look to “streamline”? I am not saying this will be the case with Jackson Family Wines–they seem to be moving more toward high quality, single vineyard acquisitions, so this seems like a good fit, but if past acquisitions are any indication….
From a purely selfish standpoint, what will happen the long line of Siduri single vineyard wines (particularly my two favorites, the Clos Pepe and the Hirsch)? Will these small production wines be maintained? Or will they eventually be dropped for “economic” reasons?
I guess we will discover the answers in time, but I really must stress that I am happy for all those involved, particularly Dianna and Adam who started with next to nothing and built Siduri into a real Pinot powerhouse.
In honor of the sale, I went down in the cellar and pulled out an older Siduri to celebrate:
2007 Siduri Pinot Noir Amber Ridge: Retail $45. Still really big fruit (think red berry and a bit of eucalyptus) with a hint of earth in the background. On the palate, the fruit is clearly center stage, but the wine is nicely balanced, even at 14.3%. I have two more bottles and I should probably get to them soon, but part of me wants to hang on to them at least for a while. Congratulations to the Lees on the sale, I hope the wines remain this good. Outstanding 90-92 Points.