Husband-and-wife team Ken and Diane Wilson, founders of the Wilson Artisan Wineries group in Healdsburg, Calif., are expanding their presence in Sonoma’s wine country. The Wilsons, who own six wineries in Sonoma and Mendocino counties, have purchased Zinfandel producer Pezzi King Vineyards in Dry Creek Valley. The sale includes the 137-acre estate with its winery and vineyard, and a tasting room in the town of Healdsburg. Details of the sale were not disclosed but the winery was listed for $11.25 million when it was placed on the market in 2009.
The Wilsons decided to purchase Pezzi King because of its location and its business model, which sells direct to consumers. “It’s one of the finest vineyards in Dry Creek in terms of producing tremendous fruit,” said Ken Wilson. He said Pezzi King was influential in creating the modern style of Zinfandel and regards the winery’s 1995 Zinfandel as one of the greatest made at that time.
James Rowe Sr. founded Pezzi King Vineyards when he purchased a vineyard in the hills of western Dry Creek Valley in 1993. He renovated the existing winery and vineyard and concentrated mainly on Zinfandel. The winery now has 65 acres planted to Zinfandel, Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and Sauvignon Blanc.
Rowe sold Pezzi King because he wanted to retire. The Wilsons, who were looking to increase their diminishing supply of Zinfandel, don’t plan to make any changes at the winery and are keeping the Pezzi King name. Winemaker Chris Barrett will continue to produce the wines and the current staff will stay on. “It’s pretty much business as usual,” said Wilson.
Pezzi King is the latest addition to the Wilsons' growing number of wineries. The Wilsons entered the wine business in the early 1980s, growing grapes in Sonoma County. In 1994 they opened Wilson Winery in Dry Creek Valley, focusing on Zinfandel. Since then they have expanded their portfolio to include Soda Rock and de Lorimier in Alexander Valley, Mazzocco in Dry Creek, Russian River Valley’s Matrix and Jepson in Mendocino county, which they renamed Jaxon Keys. Combined, the wineries produce more than 50,000 cases a year.
Ken Wilson said Pezzi King’s wines will add another option for his wine club members. But the Wilsons are not looking to expand beyond their current portfolio. “I’m thinking that this is a pretty good time to spend more time with our brands,” he said.