Jackson Family Wines on Thursday announced it has bought Santa Rosa-based Siduri Wines, a small family winery that has risen to prominence in two decades through its highly regarded single-vineyard pinot noirs.
The sale, which includes Siduri’s sister winery, Novy Family Wines, marks a new chapter for founders Adam and Dianna Lee. The couple came to Wine Country from Dallas more than 20 years ago with $24,000 and an idea to make great pinot noir at reasonable prices.
They have pretty much accomplished their dream after producing their first vintage in 1994, with their wines garnering standout ratings from wine critic Robert Parker Jr. in the ’90s and having been served for holiday parties at the White House.
Production is now at 25,000 cases between the two brands.
Terms of the sale were not released, but Adam Lee said it will help free him and his wife to spend more time raising their three children. Suffice to say, it is likely much more than the $2 million proposal that a drunken winery owner at a bar once offered them.
Under the deal, Adam Lee will remain as winemaker and the wineries will continue to source from the vineyards in California and Oregon that they have been using. Jackson Family Wines also will take over the lease of their winemaking plant.
“We have been pushed to being more of winery owner and less of a winemaker,” Adam Lee said in an interview as he was signing checks. “That’s not what we wanted to do it for.”
The move also highlights Jackson Family Wines’ continued interest in pinot noirs, following its purchases of the Zena Crown properties in Oregon’s Willamette Valley and the Gran Moraine vineyards in the Yamhill- Carlton region that produce high-end pinots. Its La Crema label has been particularly notable in promoting pinot noir in recent years.
“I admire the wines that they (the Lees) have crafted over the years from some of the best pinot noir and syrah vineyards in California and Oregon, and look forward to working with those growers and Adam to further the Siduri and Novy legacies,” Barbara Banke, chairwoman and proprietor of Jackson Family Wines, said in a statement.
Banke, who took over the company following the 2011 death of her husband, Jess Jackson, has been a promoter for pinot noir as evidenced by her own Cambria brand in Santa Barbara County.
The sales data backs up the purchase. Pinot noir volume in U.S. retail outlets increased by 6 percent last year compared with 2013, according to Nielsen Co. Sales of pinot noirs in the premium category ($10 to $14) increased by 15 percent, and sales in the super-premium category ($14 to $20) increased by 23 percent.
Adam Lee said he sees continued growth in the varietal despite its gaining popularity more than 10 years ago in the movie “Sideways,” where the lead character played by Paul Giamatti speaks reverently of pinot noir while belittling merlot.
“I think pinot noir remains, remarkably, really hot,” Lee said.
The sale also will offer Siduri the possibility to source from some of the Jackson family’s many thousands of vineyard acres. Adam Lee noted that one of his first wines was from the Anderson Valley in Mendocino County and that “the Jackson family has some extraordinary properties there.”