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Luczy: Williams Selyem – an icon of Russian River Valley Pinot Noir

From garage hobby to celebrated wine label, Williams Selyem put Pinot Noir on the map in California. And now there’s a new chapter, with Burgundy’s Domaine Faiveley acquiring a minority stake in the brand. Matthew Luczy meets winemaker Jeff Mangahas to discuss wine style changes and founder Burt Williams’ legacy.

Time, trends and transitions often blur the line between a winery and a brand. There are countless examples of wine producers starting out as one thing and becoming quite another, whether the transition is gradual or overnight.

Williams Selyem was founded in 1984 by Burt Williams and Ed Selyem, two friends who taught themselves how to make wine and run a winery out of a garage in Sonoma‘s Russian River Valley. It would grow into a benchmark Pinot Noir producer, and one of the first California wineries to utilise the now-commonplace system of private mailing lists for distribution.


Scroll down for tasting notes of five new-release 2018 Williams Selyem Pinot Noirs


This is Matthew Luczy’s last column for Decanter as our California correspondent. He returns to his role as wine director at Los Angeles two-star Michelin restaurant Mélisse and chef Josiah Citrin’s other LA eateries. 


Williams Selyem: five Pinot Noirs from 2018


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