Williams Selyem was founded in 1981 when Ed Selyem and Burt Williams, friends who shared winemaking as a hobby, decided to make a commercial vintage. The men were neighbors in the Russian River Valley with full time jobs that were unrelated to winemaking. Nevertheless they purchased grapes and made Zinfandel, then single-vineyard Pinot Noir. Williams Selyem Pinots quickly earned a cult following. In 1998 the founders sold the winery to John and Kathe Dyson, former customers with backgrounds in wine production and business. The winemaker is John Cabral. Though the estate is best known for Pinot Noir, it also makes Chardonnay and Zinfandel. Says Robert M. Parker Jr: “The overall style of Williams Selyem Pinots remains one of elegant, high-acid wines that can age….”
Sonoma County is not an AVA, but it is a commonly used informal designation for wines made outside of more specific AVAs within Sonoma, which is a large wine producing region just west of Napa Valley. Though Sonoma is often overshadowed by its glamorous neighbor Napa Valley, it has a long history of wine production. The area specialized in jug wine until the mid-20th century, when Sonoma producers took a cue from Napa and started improving quality. Unlike Napa, where Cabernet Sauvignon is king, Sonoma specialized in Chardonnay, Pinot Noir and Zinfandel, though excellent Cabs are produced too. There are at present 16 AVAs within Sonoma County, and, like much of the West Coast of the United States, new AVAs are created in Sonoma County with regularity. Some Sonoma appellations, such as the Russian River Valley, are renowned for Pinot Noir and Chardonnay.
This red wine is relatively light and can pair with a wide variety of foods. The grape prefers cooler climates and the wine is most often associated with Burgundy, Champagne and the U.S. west coast. Regional differences make it nearly as fickle as it is flexible.