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.