Williams Selyem and Pinot Noir
Along the beautiful backroad of Westside Road in the Russian River Valley lies this spectacular winery hidden from view. No winery sign, just an address at the driveway identifies where visitors should turn into the gated entrance. The Williams Selyem winery is open to visitors by appointment, and only to those on their allocation list. Williams Selyem makes several wines including Sauvignon Blanc, Chardonnay and Zinfandel. But it is the Williams Selyem Pinot Noir wines that have brought much attention to the winery. We were lucky enough to be the guests of our friends Caren and Keith, who have been on the Williams Selyem allocation list for several years. We followed them to the gated entrance. A phone call to the winery and the gate swings open. We drive up the road to a spectacular vineyard setting and the amazing winery structure. At the foot of the steps, our tour guide is waiting to greet us. We taste through 9 different wines, including one barrel sample. The tasting and tour lasts for just over an hour. The Williams Selyem Pinots are some of the finest made anywhere in California. They are made in the Burgundian style. First, it is the utmost care in the vineyards, with small yields per acreage, that intensifies the character of the grape clusters. In the cellar, it’s hand punchdowns and gravity flow movement of the grape juice. The barrel treatment is in some new, some old and some neutral oak, as done in most Burgundy houses. There are several Williams Selyem Pinots Noirs made. Some are estate wines, and the others are made from grapes purchased from growers of famous Pinot Noir vineyards in California. In total, 20,000 cases of wine are made and prices for the Pinots range from $50 to $90. The allocation list is much different from the way a wine club operates. First, one must get on the list. First timers on the list will receive a limited list of wines they can purchase. Depending on how much wine is purchased, the next allocation will contain additional wine offerings. The winery makes as many as 20 different labels, and many are made in small amounts. Demand for these wines are very high, and so is the demand to be on the Williams Selyem allocation list.