When Dianna and Adam Lee sold their Siduri Wine Company to Jackson Family Wines five years ago, I was a little bit worried. I was a long time fan and friend of the couple and a huge supporter of their Siduri Wines. I first met the born-and-bred Texans at their warehouse-based winery in Sonoma almost fifteen years ago, tasting around fermentation tanks named after former Dallas Cowboys players, and from the first glass of Rosella’s Vineyard Pinot Noir, I was hooked. With their sale, I was concerned that as the large JFW entity took control, the heart of Sidui would be lost.
Thankfully, as I have learned in watching the family-owned JFW team operate through the years, their goal is to keep the soul of the properties they acquire, helping each work better, smarter, giving them access to use all the tools in the shed.
Named after Adam’s grandmother, Clarice Phears, Clarice Wine Company brings together many of Adam’s favorite aspects of the wine business. At its heart, it is essentially a wine club made up of passionate Pinot Noir lovers who want to learn, enjoy, discuss, and share a bottle of really good wine.
Though he has remained winemaker for Siduri post the JFW sale, ensuring that the baby he and Dianna began over twenty years ago continues to thrive with the new owners, Clarice gives Adam the chance use every tool in his shed, starting with wine retail sales training from his first jobs in his twenties, his winemaking knowledge and prowess as winemaker for Siduri for over 25 years, his skills as a writer and educator, and mainly, his wonderful ability to engage you, sharing his passions, instilling a desire to learn more, taste more.
The company website defines Clarice Wine Company as “a new and truly unique type of winery, combining aspects of an online wine community, a wine education website, and a limited-enrollment wine club.” With only 625 members, exclusivity is a focus without being pretentious (as there is nothing about the Lee’s that is pretentious.) The intimacy encourages open discussion of the wine, leading to conversations of food, travel, art, theater, film. The act of sharing a bottle with those who can appreciate the craft of making the wine as much as what is inside is one of my favorite aspects of wine.
Members also receive a case of wine annually, split up in three shipments. That case contains three different Pinot Noir wines, all from the Pacific Ocean influenced Santa Lucia Highlands AVA in Calfornia’s Monterey County.
Grown on the benchland of the Santa Lucia Mountains, overlooking the Salinas River Valley, just above the area known as the “salad bowl” of California, Rosella’s Vineyard benefits from a long, consistent growing season with hot days giving way to cool nights and constant winds that keep grapes dry, and cool, locking in acidity and freshness, while allowing the grapes to slowly ripen to moderate alcohol levels that showcase earthiness and the terroir, as much as the ripeness of the fruit. Adam opts to utilize whole cluster fermentation for 80% of the fruit for the Clarice Rosell’s Vineyard Pinot Noir. The process ensures that the fermentation occurs slowly, delivering soft tannins and juicy filled flavors, with that note of earthiness, elevating the overall texture, complexity, and character. The wine is balanced, and beautiful, with blackberry, black cherry, and blueberry fruit, melding with toasted orange peel, sweet spice, wet leaves, and violets with full-bodied richness.