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Bob Cabral’s next step


NOTE: This is a revised version of the original post, based on additional information.

I am so pleased that Bob Cabral has landed a job that according to his lights will be all that he is looking for.

I’ve known Bob for a long time, since my days as California editor of Wine Enthusiast. It was under that guise that Bob always arranged for me to get tasting samples of the latest Williams Selyem releases. Now, given Williams Selyem’s stature—one of the leading in-demand, high-end producers in California—I’m sure owner John Dyson didn’t have to send me samples. But he did, which always led me to ask myself the following hypothetical question: If I owned a high-end winery, would I send samples out? If so, to whom? Some producers (Kistler or Marcassin, for example) never sent me anything. Williams Selyem, on the other hand, did, and what was so pleasurable about that, beyond merely getting to review these wines twice a year according to the winery’s release schedule, was getting to know Bob Cabral.

I was very honored when, one day, during the course of writing my first book, A Wine Journey along the Russian River, Bob invited me to sit with him in his then-tiny office, at the old Williams Selyem facility on Westside Road, and participate in a blending session of a new wine Bob was working on. Called “Neighbors,” it was to be a composite of several of the vineyards along Westside Road that Bob bottled into vineyard-designated Pinot Noirs: Allen, Rochioli River Block and the like. Bob told me this had been Dyson’s idea, in order to create a tier between the vineyard designates and the lower-priced regional blends (Russian River Valley, Sonoma Coast and so on).

I remember tasting and giving Bob my impressions. I suppose I didn’t think, even then, that my contributions would be significant. What was important to me was that Bob asked. It also gave me a glimpse into the passion with which Bob, so driven and such a perfectionist, approached all aspects of his job. This “Neighbors” blend would have to approach, in quality, the vineyard designates; it was important for Bob to get it exactly right. (He did.)

Last year the world learned that Bob would be leaving Williams Selyem, after 16 years, for the next phase of his career. This past year has been replete with rumors as to what he would do next; today, the media are reporting that Bob will be the new winemaker at Three Sticks Wines.

There, Bob will craft, not only Pinot Noir and Chardonnay. Don Van Staaveren, Three Sticks’ winemaker emeritus, will make the Cabernet Sauvignon, as well as the Pinot Blanc and Casteñeda wines.


  1. Bob Henry says:

    At last year’s trade tasting in Los Angeles titled “Sonoma in the City,” Bob Cabral was one of the presenters at a seminar moderated by Evan Goldstein, M.S.


    That even came just after Steve’s blog broke the news that Bob was leaving W & S.

    During the seminar’s Q & A, I mentioned Steve’s blog entry and answered Bob what his future plans were.

    He diplomatically sidestepped the question.

    So Steve thanks for bring the circle complete on his evolving story.

    Back in 1989, I had the pleasure of attending a wine luncheon at the old Ma Maison restaurant showcasing the W & S wines. The presenters were Burt and Ed (who looked like they had just stepped out of a Bartles & Jaymes wine cooler ad).

    The cost of the lunch and sampling the wines was around 40 bucks. Ridiculously inexpensive. (But Burt and Ed have an enviable reputation for generosity.)

    And at the end of the luncheon, they asked my assembled friends and I if we wished to be added to the mailing list.

    Immediately every hand shot up in the room.

    My early mailing list spot became the source of the W & S Pinots in my comparative tasting lunches here in town.

    (Was glad to embrace Burt and Ed’s generosity by likewise sharing.)

    From one Bob to another, best wishes to Cabral on his new venture.

  2. Bob Henry says:


    During the seminar’s Q & A, I mentioned Steve’s blog entry and ASKED Bob what his future plans were.

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