Santa Barbara, CA – Santa Barbara County’s SAMsARA wine brand, founded by Chad and Mary Melville in 2002, has sold for an undisclosed sum to Joan and Dave Szkutak, long-time customers and SAMsARA wine club members.
“My wife Mary and I put so much of ourselves into SAMsARA,” says Melville. “It was born before our children were even born, so I couldn’t imagine SAMsARA living on under someone else’s ownership, but when Joan and Dave expressed an interest in getting into the wine business, the idea of a sale began to take shape. They’re big fans of Santa Barbara County wines, and have been dedicated SAMsARA customers for years. I already enjoyed them very much; I could conceive of them taking over SAMsARA, which was an exciting prospect for all of us.”
At the same time, Santa Barbara-based Matt Brady was looking for an exciting new opportunity, having recently left his post at Jaffurs Cellars. Hired there in 2005, he rose to the rank of Co-Winemaker by 2012, and Head Winemaker by 2015. His wines received much critical acclaim.
The Szkutak’s were fond of Brady’s enological efforts at Jaffurs, so when they heard he’d moved on, they mentioned to Melville that he might be an ideal winemaker to assume the reins at SAMsARA. Unbeknownst to them, Melville was already thinking along the same lines, having already asked Brady to consider joining the new SAMsARA team. Brady recollects Melville having told him, just as he was leaving for a trip to Bali, Thailand and Vietnam, “Chad told me, ‘when you’re on the beach in Bali you should think about this idea of making the SAMsARA wines from here on out. If it feels good, keep thinking about it.’” Dave Szkutak adds that, “Knowing that Chad and Joan and I were all considering Matt at the same time feels like it was meant to be.”
Known for his keen understanding of balance, structure and texture in wine, Brady will continue to make SAMsARA wines within the existing aesthetic framework. “SAMsARA makes wines I believe in,” Brady says. “Wines that show the huge potential of Santa Barbara County. Complex, interesting wines with depth, layers and texture. And it’s an honor to carry on the SAMsARA legacy built by Chad and Mary Melville. The wines are honest, complex, serious, and unique.”
“The wines of SAMsARA represent the road less traveled,” he continues. “Native fermentations, basket-pressed, long barrel aging, and bottle-conditioning before release…these winemaking decisions aren’t easy. Patience, and extreme attentiveness allow these methods to succeed. And, of course, SAMsARA’s core roster of cool-climate Santa Rita Hills vineyard designates are a dream-team of fruit sources – Cargassachi, Turner, Zotovich, and Kessler Haak, to name a few.”
“We are thrilled to work with Matt Brady and to continue the tradition started by Chad and Mary Melville,” say the Szkutaks. “We first visited Santa Barbara County about 10 years ago and were blown away by the quality of so many of the wines, especially those in Sta. Rita Hills. To be involved in this business going forward with a renowned winemaker like Matt Brady, working with him at SAMsARA, is a dream come true! We have had the great fortune of being able to travel to many wine regions throughout the world, and we truly believe the Sta. Rita Hills AVA and SAMsARA wines represent the best in quality and value.”
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