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Dec 1, 2012 10:31 PM

How Burt Williams Became Pinot's Patron Saint

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  1. Some people, I think, should stick to writing about bright lights and big cities . . .

    As far as I know, the article is historically accurate, but I find the hyperbole a bit much.

    2 Replies
    1. re: zin1953

      I think it is historically accurate, definitely. As to the hyperbole, was it the 23 bottles knocked down by 5 people that got you?

      1. re: pinotho

        No, it was the whole "patron saint" thing . . . as if *no* great Pinots ever existed before Williams-Seylem . . . .

    2. I would never wish to diminish Mr. Williams' contribution to US wines, and especially to the Pinot Noir grape. but I am not sure about all of the adjectives, the adulations and the deification. Yes - important, and that extends to some family members' wines too (think Brogan Cellars).

      Still, I think that I would have stopped at "major contributor," but that is just me.


      1 Reply
      1. Thanks for the article. I am not shooting the messenger, but Patron Saint is a stretch and I say that as someone that was on his mailing list for over a decade while he was still making the wines at Williams Selyem. Many of his Pinot Noirs were some of the best California Pinots I have ever had the pleasure of drinking.

        But the fact of the matter remains that he had a HUGE advantage over the average Pinot Noir producer because he had access to most of the best fruit in Sonoma such as Allen, Hirsch, Olivet, Rochioli West Block, East Block, Estate, etc. It is not like he was turning garbage into gold.

        1 Reply
        1. re: Fowler

          Burt earned the access to that fruit. Growers offered him fruit because of his talent. If a wine receives a high score, it certainly doesn't hurt if your vineyard name is on that label too. Burt made those vineyards famous, not the other way around.

        2. He's made some mighty fine Pinots. Just sayin'...

          2 Replies
          1. re: ChefJune

            Didn't think that was up for debate. Is it?

            1. re: zin1953

              Not from me, at least.

              Great wines, and starting in a time, when some others were failing, and failing badly.