Burgundy’s Domaine Faiveley Buys Control of Sonoma’s Williams Selyem

One of Burgundy’s power players has bought an iconic name in California Pinot Noir. Four years after acquiring a minority stake, Domaine Faiveley has purchased a majority share of Williams Selyem, the Sonoma-based winery founded by Burt Williams and Ed Selyem in 1979. The sale includes the brand, inventory, winery and more than 135 acres of vineyards in Sonoma’s Russian River Valley. Annual production is around 30,000 cases. The purchase price was not disclosed.

Longtime co-owners John and Kathe Dyson will retain a minority stake, and John will remain as chief executive for at least the next three years. Director of winemaking Jeff Mangahas and all of the current staff will remain.

“We’re not going to change anything,” Erwan Faiveley, the current co-proprietor of Domaine Faiveley, told Wine Spectator. “We have a great team, a great location and I love the style of wines.”

Williams Selyem’s first vintage was produced in a garage in Fulton, Calif., in 1981, a time when many thought California could never be known for Pinot Noir. Burt Williams and Ed Selyem quickly established Williams Selyem as one of California’s original cult wineries and elevated Pinot Noir’s status within the state by creating a difficult-to-join, direct-to-consumer mailing list for its sought-after wines.

[article-img-container][src=2024-06/ns_erwan-faiveley-dyson-060324_1600.jpg] [credit= (Photo Courtesy of Domaine Faiveley)] [alt= John Dyson, center, with the Faiveley family in front of Williams Selyem.][end: article-img-container]

The co-founders sold the winery in 1998 after the business had grown too big for them. The Dysons were no strangers to the winery business; they also own Millbrook Winery in upstate New York and Villa Pillo in Tuscany. Their investment helped scale the brand—they acquired 135 acres of vineyards and upgraded winemaking operations from a modest winery to a state-of-the-art facility. They have also invested in creating their own nursery, located at the Vista Verde estate, where they propagate vines.

The Faiveley family is now led by its seventh generation, represented by Erwan and Eve Faiveley. The winery, founded in 1825 by Pierre Faiveley, is one of the most prominent names in Burgundy, with 331 acres of vines, including 30 acres of grand cru vineyard parcels and 67 acres of premier cru plots.

Erwan said the family believes their Burgundy domaine is a good size and they have no plans to expand there, so they began looking at expanding to America 15 years ago. His father, François, and Dyson had become friends over the years, and they believed their wines were made in a similar style. Since Domaine Faiveley invested in 2020, the winery’s production has grown. They produce 24 different bottlings of Pinot Noir for a total of 24,000 cases. Chardonnay and Zinfandel form the rest of production.

“Kathe and I have been looking for the perfect family to eventually succeed us,” Dyson said in a statement. “For many years, we have cherished and refined the winemaking legacy of Burt Williams and Ed Selyem. We have turned aside many offers from entities that did not share our passion and vision. With the Faiveley family, we have found the right partner with a long-term commitment, who shares our philosophy and themselves make among the world’s greatest Pinot Noir and Chardonnay wines.”

—With reporting by James Molesworth

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Source : https://www.winespectator.com/articles/domaine-faiveley-buys-williams-selyem