Wine Made With Passion: Siduri Wines


One of Siduri's vineyard sources,Cargasacchi.

We recently spent some time visiting wineries in California’s Sonoma County and Napa Valley, and one thing jumped up and hit us in the kisser (not that we hadn’t suspected it already, but this visit confirmed our worst suspicions). Here it is: there’s Good Wine, Wine Made From the Heart, Wine Made By the Family That Owns It; and then there’s Corporate Wine. And you don’t need to look at any business prospectus to see which one is which. It reveals itself when you call the winery, when you walk up to the tasting room counter, when you take your first sip of the wine. It may say, “We’re made with personal passion and conviction,” or “We’re made by someone else, and we just work here.”

We visited many family-owned wineries, because that’s who we seek out. We believe in their passion, their conviction, and their “make it or break it” drive to succeed. So we had a wonderful time discovering Seghesio Family Vineyards, Barnett Vineyards, Steltzner, Cline, Landmark, and Siduri and Novy. We loved (and respected) them all. But one of the best stories is the tale of Siduri and Novy, and it epitomizes everything we love about family-owned wineries.

We found Siduri and Novy in a sheet metal warehouse in Santa Rosa. There were no ivy-covered walls; no Tuscan style mansion; not even picturesque acres of rolling vineyards. And there was no STAFF — one person was the “staff”. It was just… a warehouse. But the wines… TO DIE FOR!siduri

This winery was created by Adam and Dianna Lee, two folks from Texas who arrived in California Wine Country with a whopping $24,000 in their wish fund. They expected to buy vineyards and make great wine with their $24,000, not knowing that the Big Guys in the wine business spend more than that on their business cards. They didn’t realize that, with land prices in Napa running at about $250,000 AN ACRE (and that’s BEFORE you spend $20,000 an acre to put in vineyards) the wine business had become a rich man’s game.

But being tough Texans, they didn’t fold up and roll back to the Panhandle. Instead, they used their seed money in the most efficient way possible — they bought the best grapes they could find, from the best vineyards in the state. They made them into wine using the least intervention possible, so the great grapes would reveal themselves as…great wine. And, oh yeah, they happened to get some of this wine in front of this guy named Robert Parker, Jr. who gave it 90 points and shot it into orbit. The rest, as they say, is history.

But the point is, they knew that great wine starts in the vineyard, and it didn’t matter if they owned the land the grapes were grown on.  They could control the process, in part by buying fruit by the acre instead of the ton (ensuring that they got the best QUALITY out of their vineyards, rather than the most QUANTITY). Siduri now makes over 2o excellent Pinot Noirs, sourced from vineyards from Santa Barbara to Willamette Valley, and they are all spectacular values. They don’t own any land, and they haven’t built a Tuscan mansion tasting room — they just make damn fine wine.

As Dianna says, “Would you rather us put our money into a fancy building, or into the bottle?” Now that’s wine made with passion.

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