Williams Selyem winemaker Bob Cabral, who took the reins from founding winemaker Burt Williams at the winery in Sonoma's Russian River Valley 16 years ago, will be stepping down at the end of 2014.
“I’m ready to do something different,” Cabral, 52, told Wine Spectator, “some things that didn’t necessarily fit into the plans at Williams Selyem. I have a lot of ideas running around in my head but I’m not ready to talk about them yet. I can definitely see myself making my own wine.”
Jeff Mangahas is transitioning into Cabral’s role as director of winemaking as harvest approaches, while others in the company will assume his duties as the winery’s general manager. The shift has been in the works for several years, said Williams Selyem vice president Mark Malpiede. “Jeff was lead winemaker at Hartford Court when he joined us three years ago and the idea was this transition was inevitable.” Mangahas, 43, began his winemaking career at Artesa in Napa Valley in 2003 and was assistant winemaker at Dutton-Goldfield before joining Hartford.
Williams Selyem was founded in 1979 by Burt Williams and Ed Selyem, hobbyists working in a Sonoma County garage, and went on to become an icon of Russian River Pinot Noir and Chardonnay. By 1998, the partners were ready to move on and sold the winery to New York businessman John Dyson, who hired Cabral.
Cabral, who previously worked as winemaker for De Loach, Kunde, Alderbrook and Hartford Court, helped lead Williams Selyem into a new era, adding new vineyards and regional bottlings, finessing the winery’s trademark elegant style and overseeing the construction of a $14.8-million winery.
In a statement, Dyson said, “Bob has made enormous contributions to the wines of Williams Selyem and we certainly understand his desire [to pursue his own projects.]”