After years of selling their grapes to the likes of Pax Wines, Bedrock, Arnot Roberts, and Joseph Swan Vineyards, Paul & Lynn O’Neill decided it was high time to produce their own wine from their estate on Walker Vine Hill in the Russian River Valley. In 2018 with help from Cody Sapieka, Assistant Winemaker at Joseph Swan Vineyards and longtime family friend of the O’Neill’s, Villein Wines came to fruition with a portion of Paul’s 2018 Walker Vine Hill Syrah harvest. In 2019, to complement their inaugural release of cool climate Syrah, Paul & Cody produced their first blend of Marsanne and Roussanne from the iconic Alder Springs Vineyard in Mendocino County.
‘Villein’ comes from the medieval word for ‘farmer’ and represents Paul and Cody’s close bond to the land. The ten acres that comprise Walker Vine Hill Vineyard are a special micro-climate of the Russian River Valley, the fog that rolls in during the evening cools the daytime heat trapped on the south-facing slope by surrounding topographical undulations, allowing the grapes to slowly ripen. Low impact techniques are employed in the vineyard as well as in the cellar—native yeasts ferments, a fair amount of whole cluster fruit, minimal new oak as well as being unfined and unfiltered yields Villein’s elegant expression of California Syrah.
Villein, the medieval word for farmer, creates beautiful hand crafted wines from small lots allowing the sustainably farmed vineyard to express itself in tank, bottle and the wine glass without external influence. The result is Villein’s elegant expression of California Syrah.