It’s a rarity in these times of consulting rock-star winemakers that someone would actually stay at a single wine producer for any length of time. But that’s exactly what Mark Lyon did – for 35 years! Mark graduated with a B.S. in Fermentation Science from the University of California at Davis in 1978 and was hired by Sebastiani Vineyards the following year, where he continues to run the winemaking program.
Sebastiani’s first century in Sonoma winemaking began when Samuele emigrated from the Tuscany region of Italy in 1895 and started Sebastiani nine years later. The winery was the only one in Sonoma County to continue operations through Prohibition, making a small amount of sacramental and medicinal wines.
Shortly after Samuele’s death in 1944, his son, August, and August’s wife Sylvia purchased the winery from the estate and began the expansion of the facilities and the product line, adding new varietal wines and proprietary blends. When August died in 1980, Sylvia and their children, Sam, Don and Mary Ann, assumed management of the company. Sam stayed until 1986, when he left Sebastiani to start his own winery. In 2001, the family sold the winery to Constellation Brands, whereupon Don Sebastani left to devote more time to his own brand, which he started with brother-in-law Roy Cecchetti in 1985.
When Bill Foley purchased Sebastiani in 2008, he immediately undertook a program to boost wine quality and raise the winery’s image. Working closely with long-time winemaker Mark Lyon and the viticultural team, they lowered production, restricted yields, acquired more new barrels and winemaking equipment, revamped farming protocols and acquired additional vineyards to guarantee consistent and superior fruit sourcing.
Join us as we talk with winemaker Mark Lyon about Sebastani’s history and legacy, and why he still enjoys working for this iconic label.
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