California, United States
At a Glance
  • Sam Bilbro followed his love of all things Italian when he made the leap to create Idlewild Wines
  • Sam grew up in a winemaking family.  Hi father stared Marietta Cellars, which his brother Scot now runs, and his brother jake owns Limerick Lane
  • The anchor of the the Idlewild portfolio are the three blended wine - The Bird (Dolcetto, Barbera, Nebbiolo), The Bee (Cortese, Muscat, Arneis) and The Flower (rose of Dolcetto, Barbera, Nebbiolo)
  • In addition to the blends, Sam also makes single varietal wines from each of these Italian grapes
  • The primary vineyard source is the Fox Hill vineyard located in Mendocino 

Idlewild is the creation of Sam Bilbro. Sam comes from a long family tradition of wine. His father Chris Bilbro founded Marietta Cellars.

Idlewild is about what moves Sam. Wines that are rooted in tradition but which also endeavor to create a new paradigm. His wines possess vibrant fruit character but often have savory elements and the requisite structure and acid to make them well to pair with food. They are wines of beauty and balance.

His production comes primarily from small, progressively-farmed vineyards in Mendocino. The roster includes Arneis, Cortese and Dolcetto from the Fox Hill Vineyard, as well as Carignan from Testa Vineyard and Grenache Gris from the Gibson Ranch. They also produce a Syrah based rosé, aKa Vin Gris, from Dry Creek Valley.

Idlewild represent the essence of the New California. This movement, defined in Jon Bonne’s book “The New California Wine”, encompasses producers who are working with unusual varietals and making wines of balance and finesse that defy the traditional “new world-old world” divide. These are wines that have been inspired by the their old-world archetypes, yet with unique personalities unto themselves, and firmly rooted in the California terroir. And like their old-world brethren, they are crafted to work well at the dinner table.

Sam is also involved in the founding of the “Seven Percent Solution”. This is a group of like-minded small producers who have elected to focus on and celebrate the complex array of fascinating varietals apart from the 93% of wine produced in CA from the most mainstream 8 varietals including Chardonnay, Pinot Noir, Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, etc. The wineries in the group embody the spirit of the New California in spades, and are to be commended for their progressive work to popularize this tiny slice of interesting and up-and-coming wines in the California landscape.