This long-running Sonoma icon bottled its first vintage of pinot noir in 1982. And although the winery started as a bit of an experiment, today the wines of Williams Selyem are considered some of the most exemplary in the region.
It all began when founder Burt Williams scored a few tons of excess grapes from a local grower back in the 1970s, and in doing so tapped into a talent for winemaking he never knew he had. Along with his buddy Ed Selyem, Burt loved a good Burgundy, so the pair decided to go into business in a bid to make some of their own.
Fast-forward 40-odd years and, along with putting Russian River Valley on the map for international wine lovers, the acclaimed winery has established itself as a benchmark for US winemaking – and wonderfully elegant Sonoma pinot.
Winemaker Jeff Mangahas produces 40 different wines, 24 being pinot noir from different sites. Jeff takes a philosophical, terroir-based approach to his craft and fruit is sourced from five estate vineyards plus more than a dozen other local sites. Wine sales, meanwhile, are strictly ‘mailing list only’ – making it the first Sonoma winery to do so (and yes, they sell out every year).
If you’re visiting, be prepared for some spectacular views and next-level amenities. Overlooking the stunning Russian River Valley in what locals dub the Rodeo Drive of Sonoma, Williams Selyem’s ultra-modern tasting salon is a must-visit.