US: First lady of Sonoma dies
By just-drinks.com editorial team | 1 December 2003
One of California wine's leading figures Sylvia Sebastiani has died at the age of 87. She had been in poor health for several years and had a heart attack two weeks ago.
Described as a "winery matriarch" she was for many years the chairwoman of Sebastiani Vineyards, when she inherited the winery and board chairmanship from husband August Sebastiani in 1980.
One report today described her as the "first lady of Sonoma". But she also had a reputation as a hard business woman, which was firmly established when in 1986 she famously fired elder son Sam Sebastiani and replaced him with younger son Don Sebastiani, whom she thought would do a better job running the family winery.
However, daughter Mary Ann Sebastiani Cuneo, president of Sebastiani Vineyards, said yesterday: "First and foremost, my mother was a devoted wife, mother and grandmother. Family came first."