No Love for Williams Selyem??

That is funny.
The truth can be funny.
I resemble that post…all but the Yugo. That’s cause I take the bus - guess I’ve been on the DuMol list a little bit longer.

SHHHHH!!! Keep quiet on this winery, for my sake that is. Hello signature line. flirtysmile

Well said, Dick. The QPR on that is… Worth the price and then some! That is reason enough for you to buy them!

A few epiphany wines from W-S have come my way, but overall, I’m in the same spot as Robert Thornton. I like the wines, but not enough to buy them in recent years. For me personally, I place W-S among a group of wineries that I have experimented with, and think highly of, but just don’t quite ascend to my “keeper list”. Littorai is there, W-S, Inman, Rivers-Marie, Rochioli, Windy Oaks, Clos Pepe.

If I have any gripe with W-S, I feel like the wines tend to be a little riper, a little heavier, and a little more new oak than I like, so sometimes the distinctiveness of the different sites becomes lost on me.

Good catch. I have edited my post. By the way I think their zins are tremendous as well.


By the way, does anyone know what Burt Williams is up to? I was under the impression that his non-compete period was over, and that he owned vineyard property in Anderson Valley, and he was planning on making wine, but I have not heard anything recently. And, of course, some of the above may be totally wrong. Anyone have any personal knowledge of what his plans are, what the name of his winery is if one exists, etc.?

Burt’s vineyard is Morning Dew Ranch Vineyard in Anderson Valley. Woodenhead, Drew and Whitcraft are three wineries I found that are releasing a 2009 SVD from that vineyard.


I’ve been very impressed with the WS wines I’ve sampled, but their prices are too high vice the competition. At retail here they are $70 to $100+.

David [drinkers.gif]

I should have waited:

Here is a quote from the Prince of Pinot site:

Margi Wierenga is the daughter of Burt Williams and shares his hearty laugh and passion for Pinot Noir. With the sale of Williams Selyem in 1997, she started her own label, Brogan Cellars, named after her paternal grandmother. She released her first wine, a 1998 Russian River Pinot Noir, working out of a cramped converted garage, using the same dairy vats for fermentation made famous by her father. In recent years, Margi has produced several Pinot Noirs from her father’s Morning Dew Ranch in Anderson Valley. Production remains small (less than 2,000 cases) and includes other varieties as well.

And one other from January 2008:

Burt now splits his time between his ranch in the Anderson Valley and his fishing boat in Santa Barbara. He grows Pinot Noir on his Morning Dew Vineyard and sells the grapes to his daughter at Brogan Cellars and to Woodenhead and Whitcraft. When I asked him the inevitable question about making his own Pinot Noir again after the non-compete agreement ends next year, he was noncommittal, but said, “If I do decide to do it, I will devote all my energies seriously to the task. I will make small amounts and it will cost a lot of money.”

This may answer your questions. You can look up the original articles at" onclick=";return false;.


This seems like an annual (or semi-annual) discussion.

Williams-Selyem made excellent Cal Pinot when few, if any, others were.
Since then many others have made quality Cal Pinot, some in different styles.
Throw in …. Ownership change, higher volume, higher prices …
As a result, Williams-Selyem doesn’t seem quite as “special” or “distinct”.
This has been a formula for a winery falling out of favor with wine-geeks.

I don’t have any inside info but on surface it looks like they are doing fine without us.

I still like them – a lot – though agree that the QPR has diminished.
I want them in my cellar – up to a point – but that’s true of all wineries.

Like others here I have also found their Zins and Chardonnays to be excellent.

I’m a buyer.


I understand many pine for the Bert days. That is their palate - fine.
I prefer to judge Williams-Selyem on their own or against the other quality Cal Pinot makers around today.

1 Like

Alesia PN offer is unlimited, methinks?

What is “an insane QPR” (particularly when mentioned against RM’s $25 and Rhys-Alesia’s $28 base offerings) ?

Williams Selyem is still making wonderful wines. The prices relative to some others may be a bit higher, but that’s one of those things that can come with the status of being among the grand-daddies of PN producers. Their pricing is still competitive, but certainly some of the “glam” comes off a brand over time – particularly in an age when we have seen such a (welcome) explosion of new and very fine producers of Pinot in California and Oregon. Just an observation, not trying to stir the pot.

Regardless … I like some of the wines more than others, but I’m always still a buyer. Perhaps there isn’t quite the buzz because of the understandably strong affinity for what Burt and Ed did. At the same time, Bob Cabral is making excellent wines – but we haven’t quite gotten to the point where we’ve found an old wow vintage. That will come in time, particularly as these 2004s and 2005s and 2007s sleep in the cellar. These wines are of consistently high quality and are a worthy legacy to the greatness of the Williams Selyem label.

Among my favorites always are the Central Coast and Sonoma Coast for fairly early consumption, the RRV blend as a benchmark, and the Allen, Hirsch, and Rochioli Vineyard bottlings. The Zins are outstanding and underrated, and Chards provide terrific expression of a big California style. Enjoyable for sure. It can get expensive, but so do all the mailing lists we’re talking about. For example, at $46? The RRV blend provides great value vis-a-vis Rochioli’s blend ($52) and Kosta Browne’s (also $52). Not to mention the proliferation of $40 blends out there. Yes, there are some better values – Siduri’s appellation blends come to mind; Joseph Swan’s magnificent Cuvee de Trois; the Alesia wines; and so forth. But I’ll still smile having Selyem in the canon of Cali Pinot.

Jeb- Love your signature line! My father and I visited WesMar a few years ago and have been buying ever since.

Thomas- I agree with you that RM and Alesia are also huge qpr’s. Wesmar Sonoma Coast and Russian River both run for $35 a bottle and use only fruit that goes into their SVD bottlings. High quality Cali pinot for $35 using SVD fruit equates to a insane qpr in my book [cheers.gif]

Since this is my first offering from Rhys, I was only offered a case of the Alesia.


Tom, how are the W-S 2004’s evolving? The reason I ask is that I have not found this heat-spike vintage to be aging well for CA pinot, except for a few from Santa Cruz Mountains (where the late heat spikes were less severe IIRC). I can also cite Copain’s '04 Kiser en Haut as a further exception, an excellent wine still, although not having the brightness, detail, or ageworthiness of the '06 and '07 editions.

Lew – Williams Selyem has been one of the few exceptions on 2004 in CA for Pinot. They’ve been aging great. The last bottle of RRV I had, last year, was so youthful, I decided to hold off on the SVDs for at least another year. I think they really nailed it on 2004. And the 05s are only going to take more time to come around.

Have been and remain a W-S fan; I am almost done with the '01s and '02s, and brought a bunch of '03s and '04s home to put into the cellar over the weekend. I look forward to digging in.


(Hope to be able to purchase an actual Rhys someday.)

I’m like many who have posted here – I generally like and admire their wines, but (a) the prices are pushing towards the indifference point, (b) there are more and better alternatives (including in their general style) out there with each passing year, (c) mature vintages of their wines are often available on sites like winebid (though not at conventional retail) for lower than the release price of new vintages, and (d) there are just way too many wines, most of which I am allocated 0 or 1 2 bottles.

I think (d) is what annoys me the most. I don’t usually buy single bottles of ageworthy and pricey wines like those, and I’m not interested enough to place big orders for years to get to where I can get more than 1 of the wines I really want.

I’ve also tried a couple of times to visit there, and they haven’t been able to accomodate me and my wife, and I’m not miffed about that, but realistically, a positive visit experience (particularly for my wife) could well have pushed us off the fence to keep ordering. And that’s fine, I have the various bottles I ordered from 04-07 vintages in storage, plus I cherry pick a mature older bottle here and there on auction sites that are ready to drink and cheaper than release price, and all of that satisfies my W-S needs.

There are still my largest holding, but Rhys may catch up soon. Although Bob is not Burt, the wines have rebounded over the last few years and have shown consistent quality.


Price is hindering them (same with KB IMHO) Agree with the '90s AOL sentiment. I think it was cheaper for me to buy off the list than from Winebow so I’m not sure how that works, but whateves.

Not to the thread drift but, dang, I remember drinking half bottles of KB at a great little bar where I used to live when it first came out for some outrageously low price given how good the juice was plus the Manhattan restaurant mark up. But I guess everyone cashes in at some point.

Honestly, I don’t expect Rhys or RM to stay at these great QPR prices for much longer… [stirthepothal.gif]


to be blunt, it doesn’t really matter. What is or is not hyped on bulletin boards has little reflection in the real world as BB members make up about 0.01% of the dedicated wine lovers out there. I do use wine BB’s no doubt about it, but I primarily rely on other sources to introduce me to new wines available (usually trusted friends-including some wine professionals- with a good, broad knowledge).