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'Al fresco' wine from California

'Al fresco' wine from California

ic: Winemaker Sam holding Vermentino grapes

Sam Bilbro spent much of his childhood romping around an old cow-barn-turned-winery. He would spend afternoons walking vineyards and tasting blends with his dad, Chris, who founded Sonoma’s Marietta Cellars in the 1970s.

Although Sam’s upbringing was steeped in the rural lifestyle of northern Sonoma and carrying on the tradition of his great-grandfather who emigrated from Lucca, Tuscany, he had no interest in building a career in wine.

That was until his time in the restaurant industry, where Sam admits, “I tasted a bottle of Barbaresco. It changed my life. Suddenly everything my dad did in his life made sense.”

ic: Winemaker Sam Bilbro

Now, as a fourth-generation California grower and winemaker, Sam created Idlewild Wines, making hard-to-find, Piedmontese-style wines like Nebbiolo, Dolcetto, Barbera, Cortese, and Arneis. He sources grapes from old vineyard sites across Sonoma and Mendocino. Sam is committed to low intervention and traditional winemaking methods like foot-treading the grapes, to create the most natural expression of each wine.


ic: Idlewild | The Bee

We’re in love with Sam’s wines!  They remind us of Italy, and walking a lot, and dining al fresco, and fresh air. There is this Spring-like energy to everything he makes. It’s old-world because these grape varieties come from that part of the planet, but also distinctly Californian – baked in the sunshine and happily plump.

The Bee, a white blend, is like a punch of orange blossoms, wet stones, lemon peel, and pear. Just when the wine starts to feel intense, it turns to this rainwater-like lightness with a crisp and clean finish. This wine smells like dining outside – transporting you to a patio, just after the rain when the sun comes out. This blend of Italian grapes is the Cali-version of a perfect afternoon in Italy.

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