A Visit to Siduri Winery in Santa Rosa

Siduri – A great Pinot house of a slightly different sort, and a second label that makes everything else.


After a busy few weeks playing “Garagista” (aka Home wine maker,) and volunteer assisting a few of wineries with Harvest, I decided to go back to being a consumer and go tasting. After all, this is a work sabbatical.

I first discovered Siduri Wines at the Wine Road Winter Wineland event (which I highly recommend). Siduri is normally open by appointment only, so this is a great winery to hit at special events, since you won’t need an appointment , and  because of the ridiculous number of high quality wines poured. However, you had better learn to spit or dump, or Siduri could end up being your only stop for the day. Tip:  Hit it first thing at the opening before the crowds get too loco.

That said, don’t let the “appointment only’ disclaimer throw you. Siduri is not a foo-foo winery,  and they regularly do tastings in small groups, every hour. Just call, even if it’s on short notice, and you may get in.  There is also no tasting fee, a rare event these days.

The winery is housed in an industrial facility, something I used to shun. But, I have learned to be more open to it, in order not to miss out on great experiences like Siduri.  This type siduri warehouseof winery has become more common, and even cluster in regions (like the wineries of Old Roma Station on Front Street in Healdsburg.) Siduri was an early trailblazer in this facility type, and only desires an even bigger, better warehouse. You should also not be dissuaded by the fact that Siduri owns no vineyards. Partial or total sourcing of fruit is more common than many realize.  Siduri takes this to a new level.

Siduri is owned and run by a passionate husband-wife team, Adam and Dianna Lee. They started out exclusively making single-vineyard Pinot Noir wines, in 1994.  Five years later, with some family capital, they added a second label –the Novy brand – which makes a number of other varietals. Syrah is the mainstay, but current releases include Zinfandel, Grenache, Nebbiolo. Chardonnay, and a Viognier.  I think it’s near Pinot madness (in a good way) the sheer number of Pinots (27 two years ago, 18 last year) Siduri makes, always in small production.

All fruit (aka wine grapes) is sourced from an array of premium growers from the Central Coast all the way up to Oregon, with whom the owners maintain personal relationships.  This is the only Russian River Valley (RRV) Pinot house I am aware of that sources fruit from the Willamette Valley of Oregon, its no small feat to bring wine grapes that far, especially given the sometimes frenetic harvest cycles there, due to weather.

The pourer was very knowledgeable in Siduri lore and history, as well as the area, being a native. This gets points, as I am becoming increasingly irritated visiting wineries, Siduri tasting room - Courtesy of Vintwinedespecially smaller higher end ones, where the pouring staff have very little knowledge save what they have been reciting by rote. It can ruin the entire experience, and often results in less/no purchases when I visit. In today’s market, with an ever increasing focus on sales Direct to Consumer (DTC), I’d encourage winemakers and owners to pay closer attention, and an active role here.

The tasting offerings of the day are printed professionally each day, as well as all wine offers on the back. Only one chardonnay (from the Novy label) was poured (surprising for a Pinot house.)  4 pinots ranging from $29-45 were poured, including one with Willamette fruit. What I really admired about the pinots, was the uniqueness, and expression of the individual vineyard source.  Siduri doesn’t bring fruit in from Oregon and then try and make it taste like a Sonoma coast Pinot, it’s true to Oregon style.  All were very well made, and varied greatly in style. My fave for price/quality equity was the $33 Santa Lucia,  smooth as velvet, rated 92 points by the Pinot Report, and only 1700 cases made. I thoroughly enjoyed all four.

Next we tasted through 3 Novy Syrahs, ranging from $20 (Napa) to $29. All were excellent quality, the 06 Christensen Family has a very notable, white pepper characteristic, all the way through the finish.Siduri releases

I bought a variety of 6 wines to take home, including a number in the $25 range that I hadn’t tried, as I continue to scour the county for pleasing wines that don’t break the budget (as I try and nudge my palette to adjust to the economy). I find many good wines in this range, but am always seeking great. Just because Food and Wine names a bottle as top in the $20 range, doesn’t make me like it any more, sorry. Incidentally, recently Food and Wine Magazine named the 2007 Siduri Sonoma County Pinot, as top Pinot in the Under $20 category. (Unfortunately it’s sold at at the winery, and my normal sources.)

All in all, a very pleasant visit and experience. And as a bonus, Bottle Barn is nearby by and worth a stop as well for wines of all price points and quality (including Siduri’s). If you are a Pinot-phile, I highly recommend a visit here .

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