Storybook Mountain Vineyard truly is a family affair. Jerry and Sigrid Seps are the founders and owners, while the couple’s daughter, Colleen Williams, is the associate winemaker. Colleen’s husband, Rick Williams, oversees sales and marketing.
Jerry and Sigrid Seps
Jerry Seps’ father and grandfather both sold wine, so it was perhaps written in the stars that he become a vintner. Having worked his way through college at the University of California, Berkeley as a sommelier at the distinguished Ahwahnee Hotel in Yosemite National Park, Jerry taught at Stanford University for four years while earning his PhD in European History at Berkeley. (Not coincidentally, wine plays a pivotal role in European history.) He subsequently became a tenured professor at California State University, Dominguez Hills.
In 1976, Jerry and his German-born wife, Sigrid, discovered an abandoned vineyard and ghost winery, with century-old caves, in the Mayacamas Mountains northwest of Calistoga in far northern Napa Valley. Captivated by this wild, high-elevation site, which dated to the 1880s when it was known as Grimm Brothers Vineyards & Wine Vaults, the couple purchased the property, set about replanting the historic vineyard, and constructed a new winery. While Jerry focused on the vineyard and winemaking, Sigrid supervised retail sales, marketing and the winery’s wine club.
Storybook quickly became one of California’s premier producers of zinfandel and, in 1990, Jerry initiated the creation of Zinfandel Advocates & Producers, an organization that has been wildly successful in promoting the features and benefits of the zinfandel grape. (ZAP’s annual tastings in San Francisco have attracted up to 10,000 people.) Twenty-five years later, Jerry and Sigrid are still crafting superlative zinfandels – as well as world-class cabernet sauvignons – and enhancing Storybook Mountain’s reputation as one of America’s – and the world’s – most distinctive and respected wineries.
Colleen and Rick Williams
Colleen Williams (Seps) grew up at Storybook Mountain, absorbing all there was to know about the family’s spectacular vineyard and the winemaking techniques that best capture its intense, complex fruit. After a stint as the winery’s marketing director, Colleen became her father’s assistant in the wine cellar and now does much of the winemaking, while her dad focuses on the estate vineyard. Colleen’s husband, Rick Williams, now oversees sales and marketing for Storybook Mountain, often hosting visitors to the winery and going on the road to promote Storybook wines throughout the U.S.