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Kendall-Jackson Owners Buy California Pinot Powerhouse Siduri

Adam Lee will continue as winemaker; Jackson Family Wines sees potential in single-vineyard Pinot Noir
Photo by: Courtesy Siduri
Dianna and Adam Lee at Siduri's Sonoma winery.

Tim Fish
Posted: January 29, 2015

Jackson Family Wines raised its bet on high-end Pinot Noir today with the purchase of Siduri, a Sonoma-based producer that has helped define the style of modern California Pinot with its numerous single-vineyard wines.

The sale includes the Siduri and Novy brands, winery equipment and inventory. Adam Lee, who founded the winery with his wife, Dianna, in 1994, will continue as lead winemaker for Siduri and Novy for at least three years. Dianna is stepping back from her duties at the winery.

“We certainly have mixed feelings, but there’s a lot of excitement for us, too,” Adam told Wine Spectator. “This is going to allow us to focus on making wine, which is why we got into the business in the first place.”

The sale price was not disclosed. The couple leases their Sonoma County winemaking facility and owns no vineyards. “I admire the wines that they have crafted over the years from some of the best Pinot Noir and Syrah vineyards in California and Oregon,” said Barbara Banke, chairman of Jackson Family Wines, in a statement. "I look forward to working with those growers and Adam to further the Siduri and Novy legacies."

Jackson Family Wines, which owns Kendall-Jackson and a portfolio of wineries and vineyards in the United States and beyond, has been investing big in Pinot Noir in recent years, introducing multiple bottlings from labels such as La Crema, Hartford, Wild Ridge and Wind Racer. The firm has also focused more on single-vineyard wines, initially with Cabernet Sauvignons from Stonestreet, Vérité and Lokoya. Now they are bringing the same approach to Pinot Noir. They recently bought the Zena Crown and Gran Moraine vineyards in Oregon's Willamette Valley.

Siduri wines epitomize the bold style of California Pinot Noirs that emerged in the late 1990s. It was among the first wineries to buy fruit from vineyards such as Garys’, Cargasacchi, Hirsch, Clos Pepe and Pisoni, and along the way helped popularize regions like Sta. Rita Hills, Sonoma Coast and Santa Lucia Highlands.

The Lees quietly put the winery on the market last summer to test the waters. With annual production approaching 27,000 cases between both labels—mostly small production, single-vineyard wines—Adam was spending much of his time on the road selling wine. Adam, 50, and Dianna, 44, have three children between the ages of 8 and 15 and decided it was time to slow down.

The Jackson Family purchase, Adam said, allows Siduri to access some of the company’s top Pinot vineyards, but at the same time all of the current growers are staying on board. The sale also relieves them of most business and sales duties. “Dianna and I did so much of this by the seat of our pants,” he said. “We never had a business plan.”

Native Texans, the Lees moved to Sonoma County in the early 1990s with $24,000 and not an ounce of winemaking experience between the two of them. After toiling in various capacities at several wineries, they made their first Siduri Pinot with the 1994 vintage. The couple launched the Novy label in 1998, when they found an exceptional source for Syrah but wanted to keep Siduri strictly a Pinot label. They share ownership of Novy with several members of Dianna's family, the Novys.

Jackson Family Farms, founded by the late Jess Jackson in 1982, is based in Sonoma County and owns 40 wineries, primarily in California and Oregon, and also produces wines from Australia, Chile, France, Italy and South Africa. It owns more than 10,000 acres of vineyards in California alone.

Mike Officer
Santa Rosa, CA —  January 29, 2015 4:23pm ET
Bravo Adam and Dianna! Congratulations!
Barry Brown
Napa —  January 29, 2015 4:51pm ET
Good for Adam, Dianna and the kids. Hopefully, the Jackson Family will maintain the high standards developed by Adam over the years for both labels.
Carl Kanowsky
Los Angeles, CA —  January 29, 2015 4:59pm ET
Not too shabby for a transplanted Texas couple. Jackson is wise to keep you on as winemaker, Adam. Best of luck to you and Dianna.
Morgan Winery Inc
Santa Lucia Highlands —  January 29, 2015 5:24pm ET
Hey Cuz, Dan Lee here. Congrats on the sale. I remember the logo, "we drink the best, and sell the rest" from the Austin wine shop long ago.
Russell Quong
Sunnyvale, CA, USA —  January 29, 2015 5:31pm ET
Congrats to Adam and Dianna.

Adam's comments on the WS forums/blogs are some of the most concise and insightful ones around.

I almost opened the Siduri 2010 Sierra Mar PN last night. Now I have to try it tonight in response to the news.
Dave Pramuk
Napa —  January 29, 2015 5:59pm ET
Adam and Dianna,
Congratulations on the sale. Kendall Jackson has added a winner to the portfolio. You guys worked your butts off to create a focused Pinot Noir brand that helped turn the tide on the entire category.
Keep making great wines!

Dave Pramuk
Robert Biale Vineyards
Mark C Berkowitz
Bainbridge Island —  January 29, 2015 6:44pm ET
Congratulations to both Adam and Dianna. Your hard work over the past 20 years has paid off so hopefully you can slow down a little and enjoy your lives with the kids. Just bought a mixed case of Siduri 2013s at the Winter Wine Land event to go along with all the other Siduri Pinots in my cellar. Take care.

Mark Berkowitz
Dan Kosta
Sebastopol, CA —  January 29, 2015 8:12pm ET
Congrats to both the Lees and Jackson Family. Certainly a win win. Will toast you tonight!
Michael Meadows
Dallas, Texas, USA —  January 29, 2015 9:42pm ET
Congratulations to Adam and Dianna Lee! Not only do they make fantastic wine, but they are wonderful people, too. They have worked incredibly hard to build the Siduri and Novy brands and deserve every success. And thank you to the Jackson family for wisely keeping Adam actively involved! Great news all around!
David Rossi
Napa, CA —  January 30, 2015 7:36am ET
Congrats! Well deserved.
Adam Lee
Sonoma County, CA —  January 30, 2015 8:13am ET
Wow, such nice comments...from such good friends. Thank you all.

The fun has only just begun....I am looking forward to making even better wines with the help of the Jackson Family!

Adam Lee
Siduri Wines
Nat Hardee
Houston, Tex USA —  January 30, 2015 9:33am ET
Adam and Dianna,

We've know you from the beginning and love your wines! As native Houstonians, you have made us so proud. Yes, it's time to enjoy your family and just make great wines! A BIG congrads from the Hardees in Houston!!
Looking forward to seeing you back here soon.

Nat and Marilyn Hardee
Bart Hansen
Sonoma —  January 30, 2015 9:52am ET
Congratulations Adam and Dianna, you deserve the success you have worked so hard to achieve. The jackson Family is lucky to have your brand.

Cheers
Bart
Mark Horowitz
New York, NY —  January 30, 2015 12:05pm ET
Let me join in the chorus of admirers who are congratulating Adam and Dianna on this announcement. They are among an elite group of winemakers who have produced high-quality pinots (and, in the case of their Novy label, syrahs,as well) at fair prices. They have also been eloquent spokespeople for the industry. I simply don't know how they've managed to travel so many miles each year, to visit their various vineyards throughout California and Oregon and to appear at a wide variety of industry and consumer events. Clearly, the time has arrived for them to reduce their mileage, spend more time with their family and simply oversee the production of many more vintages of fine wine.

The Lees' decision to sell, along with those decisions made by other small, independent winemakers (Kosta-Browne and MacPhail come to mind) points to an industry trend. Have we arrived at a point where too much is expected of small producers? Having been to a handful of consumer events and having organized a few winemaker dinners here in NYC, I have been able to see that these winemakers need to do much more than just make good wine to be successful businesspeople. They must shake the hands of their loyal customers, meet new, prospective customers, pour thousands of tastes, distinguish themselves and their products from the tens of thousands of others doing the same thing...and source grapes, make, bottle and sell wine. Infinite time and energy (as well as smiles) is required.
Thad Cox
Knoxville, Tn., USA —  January 30, 2015 12:32pm ET
Congrats to you both!
Greg Flanagan
Bethel, CT —  February 1, 2015 6:48am ET
Hopefully this allows Adam more time to post on these blogs/forums!

Love your insight!

(Great wines too)

D Michael Mcbride Iii
Tulsa, OK —  March 2, 2015 12:15am ET
Congratulations Adam and Diana! What a great legacy you have built!

--Mike

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