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.

LISA EVICH

"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.

SEAN McKENZIE

"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.

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
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
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
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
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

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
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.

ISABELLE SIMI

"WINE IS ALL ABOUT THE NOSE, AND PUTTING IT TO THE GRINDSTONE."

Isabelle Simi knew this better than anyone. She steered the winery with defiant determination for over 70 years, persevering to better every last drop. In fact, in 1920, when the government threw down a deadly blow, in the form of Prohibition, she didn’t give up. She rolled up her sleeves and applied her wit. She held strong. And came out even stronger in the end.

CELEBRATING

140 YEARS OF WINEMAKING

From a winery started by two brothers who immigrated from Italy in the mid 1800's, later passed down to Giuseppe's 18 year-old daughter who became a female pioneer in the wine industry, leading the business through prohibition, SIMI is now one of Sonoma's longest-standing institutions.

1849

Giuseppe Simi left the Tuscan hills in Montepulciano, Italy to find his fortune in the gold fields of California.

1876

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

1890

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

1904

The winery expanded its stone cellars. Tragically, later that year both Simi brothers died suddenly. Giuseppe's daughter Isabelle took over management at the age of 18.

1920

Prohibition began. Isabelle sold all vineyard holdings to keep possession of cellars, anticipating a quick repeal of the Volstead Act. 

1933

Prohibition was repealed in December. Thanks to Isabelle, SIMI was immediately prepared to sell 500,000 gallons of perfectly cellared wines to the thirsty public.

1934

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

1970

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

1974

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

1979

Zelma Long, considered another female pioneer in California Wine, joined us as president, directing a major renovation of our fermentation and barrel rooms.

1984

We acquired Landslide Vineyard in southern Alexander Valley to enhance and expand our Cabernet Sauvignon program.

1989

We purchased 100 acres in the Russian River Valley and began the development of Goldfields Vineyard, planting Chardonnay field selections and clones.

1990

We celebrated 100 years of wine making in the stone cellars, building a new hospitality center to replace the old tasting room.

2008

Thanks to its eco-friendly practices and dedication to sustainability, SIMI becomes officially green certified.

2011

SIMI introduces a designated outdoor space for tastings, dining and entertainment. 

2016

We celebrated 140 years by bringing back Sparkling Wines to the tasting room.

2020

We mark a new era for SIMI, focussing on the celebration of pioneers like Isabelle Simi who's passion and determination make goodness from grit.

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