Winemaking At Simi

Winemakers

World-Class Winemaking Team

Director of Winemaking, Melissa Stackhouse, smiles while standing in the barrel room at SIMI Winery.
Melissa Stackhouse | Director of Winemaking
To me, a good wine has both balance and integrity.

A curious person with a love of the outdoors, Melissa combined her love of agriculture and science by earning a degree in Viticulture and Enology at the University of California, Davis, and then joining some of California's top wineries—including Meiomi, J Vineyards & Winery, and La Crema—as winemaker.

Since becoming Director of Winemaking at SIMI Winery, Melissa has embraced the opportunity to blend, balance and showcase the best fruit from Sonoma County.

Winemaker Lisa Evich smiles as she stands in front of the oldest building at the winery.
Lisa Evich | Winemaker
When crafting exceptional wines, the key is to keep the big picture and the details in focus all at once.

The one word that Lisa Evich would use to describe SIMI wines is "timeless." Through meticulous care and attention in both the vineyards and the winery, she works to maintain the timelessness of both SIMI and Sonoma County.

Hailing from Santa Rosa, Lisa fell in love with food and wine at an early age. While at Sonoma State University, her focus was on Environmental Studies and Planning. But there was something about the vineyards that called to her. It wasn't just the science of winemaking, but the art as well, the craft that could translate a place into a bottle.

Lisa began her career at SIMI, spending nine years with the winery before diversifying her experience with positions at Pine Ridge and Arrowood. SIMI welcomed her home as winemaker creating world-class wines. And while Lisa would never require her friends and family to exclusively drink SIMI, there's no greater compliment than for someone to tell her that SIMI is their house wine.
 

Winemaker Sean McKenzie grins at the camera.
Sean McKenzie | Winemaker
Sonoma county offers more consistent diversity and quality in a single appellation than I’ve seen throughout many of the worlds wine regions.

Born in New Zealand, Sean’s exploration of fermentation science sparked his career in winemaking. He went on to make wine in New Zealand at Brancott Winery, and Wither Hills Winery. He came to Sonoma County in 2001 to make wine at SIMI Winery for two harvests where he discovered a passion for travel and what California had to offer. This eventually led him to move to Sonoma County in 2003, first working at Clos du Bois Winery, then The Dreaming Tree and finally back to SIMI Winery again. Sean loves the diversity that can be found throughout California’s prestigious growing regions and the respective wine styles they create. Sean and his family reside in Healdsburg, a place that he describes as the perfect mix of resident farmers and visitors who appreciate the local artisan food and wine scene.


Vineyards

Great wine begins in the vineyard, which is why SIMI made its home in the heart of the spectacular Sonoma County over 140 years ago. Our specialized and diverse Alexander Valley and Russian River Valley vineyards allow us to craft a remarkable range of wines, from powerful, nuanced Cabernet Sauvignons to cool, elegant Chardonnays.

Alexander Valley

Just north of Healdsburg lies one of Sonoma County’s finest winegrowing regions: the Alexander Valley. Known for its diverse soils and complex geology, the warm Alexander Valley is well suited to red Bordeaux varieties, particularly Cabernet Sauvignon. The area’s special pockets of gravelly soil bear remarkable similarity to those of Bordeaux, creating elegant wines with concentration and longevity.

Landslide Vineyard:
172 Acres

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Red Fan Vineyard:
72 Acres

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Los Amigos Vineyard:
96 Acres

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Del Rio Vineyard:
44 Acres

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Russian River Valley

Many natural forces occurred over hundreds of thousands of years to make the Russian River Valley the heralded wine region that it is today. Geologic plates have collided, rivers have shifted, and volcanoes have erupted, creating a unique and complex area that is one of the most complex in all of California. The Pacific Ocean’s cooling fog drifts into the vineyards, preserving lifted acidity while fully developing ripe fruit flavors in renowned varieties like our prized Chardonnay.

Goldfields Vineyard
105 Acres

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Great wine begins in the vineyard.
Alexander Valley

Looking down the rows of grape vines towards the wooded hills that surround the Alexander Valley.

Landslide Vineyard: 172 Acres

Looking across the rows of vines in the Landslide Vineyard as Fall approaches, turning the grape leaves yellow.

One of the most complex vineyards in Alexander Valley, Landslide is comprised of five distinct soil types that were created by a volcanic landslide from Mount St. Helena. The vineyard also has three different distinguishable sections and several microclimates. The highest part of the vineyard produces dense wines; the middle, powerful wines; and the lower, elegant wines. This leads to more complex blends. Fruit from this vineyard is used to make Landslide Cabernet Sauvignon and our Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon, our Sonoma County Cabernet and our Sonoma County Merlot.

Red Fan Vineyard: 72 Acres

Our Red Fan Vineyard is nestled right at the base of rolling hills covered in grasses and oak trees.

Red Fan Vineyard is named for the clay loam soils at the vineyard base that rapidly fan out to become shallow, red volcanic gravel on the upper bench. This grade of changing soils produces different flavor profiles within the vineyard and produces wine that express the best characteristics of Alexander Valley’s eastern benchlands—velvety texture and bright, luscious flavors. This vineyard contributes fruit to our Alexander Valley Cabernet Sauvignon.

Los Amigos Vineyard: 96 Acres

The Los Amigos Vineyard abuts an old Victorian-style farmhouse.

Home to Cabernet Sauvignon production for more than 30 years, Los Amigos vineyard produces wines that resonate with the classic characteristics of the Alexander Valley floor. The sandy loam soils are ideal for low-vigor vines. Our Cabernet vines share the vineyard with Merlot, another varietal ideal for the site.

Del Rio Vineyard: 44 Acres

The Del Ray Vineyard stretches across a very flat part of the Alexander Valley.

Soils here are sandy loam, deep and fertile. Similar to Los Amigos, low vigor rootstocks and minimal irrigation keep yields low and concentrate flavors.

Russian River Valley

The afternoon sun shows through the bare vines from our vineyard in the Russian River Valley.

Goldfields Vineyard: 105 Acres
An ancient oak stands guard over the gently rolling hills of our Goldfields Vineyard.

This meant-to-be Chardonnay vineyard makes up the heart of our Reserve Chardonnay and also contributes to our Sonoma County Chardonnay. We’ve planted it to a variety of Chardonnay root stocks, field selections and clones taken from some of the best and oldest vineyards in California. The vineyard’s Goldridge and Huichica series soils provide superb drainage. Goldfields’ location in a warmer region of the Russian River Valley allows grapes to ripen fully each vintage.


History

The front of the original winery, with two different styles of rock building materials. The train tracks in front of the winery would take wines to San Francisco.


SIMI WINERY - CELEBRATING OUR 140 YEAR ANNIVERSARY


 

A map of Italy done in an older style showing where the SIMI brothers got their start.

1849

Giuseppe Simi leaves the Tuscan hills to find his fortune in the gold fields of California.

Taken in the mid-to-late 1870's, a man stands in front of the stone winery ready to move barrels that feature the SIMI name.

1876

Giuseppe and brother Pietro produce their first wines under the Simi name.

Taken in the 1890's, the original stone winery, that is still used today, stands in front of the train tracks that would take SIMI wines to San Francisco.

1890

The first harvest in Simi's stone cellars at the present day winery on Healdsburg Avenue.

Isabelle Simi, in an elaborate dress and tiara, poses for the camera. Circa 1900.

1904

SIMI's stone cellars are expanded. Tragically, later that year both Simi brothers die suddenly. Giuseppe's daughter Isabelle takes over management at the age of 18.

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1920

Prohibition begins. Isabelle sells all vineyard holdings to keep possession of cellared, anticipating a quick repeal of the Volstead Act.

A man stands in front of the 1930's era bottling line.

1933

Prohibition is repealed in December. SIMI is immediately prepared to sell 500,000 cases of perfectly cellared wines to the thirsty public.

SIMI's first retail outlet was made from a giant old wine barrel. It's open doors and friendly dog made it an inviting place to stop.

1934

Isabelle establishes SIMI's first retail outlet, a tasting room fashioned from a 25,000 gallon cask installed in front of the winery's stone cellars.

Russell Green, plus a handful of unidentified people, walk around the SIMI property.

1970

Isabelle Simi retires, selling the winery to Alexander Valley grape grower, Russell Green.

The 1974 SIMI Cabernet Sauvginon Alexander Valley bottle is front and center of this photograph.

1974

SIMI uses the Alexander Valley appellation on its labels for the first time.

Zelma Long, sitting upon SIMI wine barrels in front of the distinctive rock walls of the winery.

1979

Zelma Long joins SIMI prepared to direct major renovation of the winery's fermentation and barrel rooms.

Rows of grapes, turning yellow in the Fall weather, stretch towards the hills.

1984

SIMI acquires Landslide Vineyard in southern Alexander Valley to enhance and expand their Cabernet Sauvignon program.

The sunlight peeks through the bare grape vines in the Goldfields Vineyard.

1989

SIMI purchases 100 acres in the Russian River Valley and begins the development of Goldfields Vineyard, planting Chardonnay field selections and clones.

An external photograph of the tasting room, built in 1990. It is nestled between large redwoods, just across the railroad tracks from the original SIMI winery building.

1990

SIMI celebrates 100 years of wine making in the stone cellars. A new hospitality center replaces Isabelle's cask tasting room.

The artfully weathered SIMI sign stands next to the (now defunct) railroad tracks.

2008

SIMI becomes green certified.

A pizza sits on the pizza peel ready to be slid into the new pizza oven.

2011

SIMI builds an outdoor pizza oven for events and snacks for the tasting room.

2016

SIMI celebrates 140 years by bringing back Sparkling Wines to the tasting room.

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