Chardonnay,Pinot Noir,Russian River Valley,Sonoma,Wine,Wine tasting,Winemaker,Winery

J Vineyards 2.0

When you’re making the best, why would you bother to go after the rest?

Varietal wines, that is…

This is the time of shrinking shelf space. What once was, is no longer available. I learned in sales years ago that supermarket chains squeeze the daylights out of wineries, in order for wine to be on a store’s shelf. Whomever owns the store calls the shots, placing wine on a shelf only if the winery is ready to have the barest profit margin (if at all). This practice bothers me so much that most of my shopping is done with small merchants. It’s very hard for me to go to a local chain store. I’d rather drive eight miles to Big John’s, and pay probably 25 percent more, than to support the practices of chains. (I’ve seen what chains do in a very personal way to my dad.)

This shrinking shelf space is also controlled by wholesalers, with their consolidated products. What they used to have for space now has even more products to line the shelves; however, that’s not humanly possible. So, fewer and fewer options are going to be in retail outlets, with some brands just going the way of the dodo bird.

Check out these stats, brought to you by the collaboration of winemaker Eugenia Keegan and grape growers Ellen Brittan of Brittan Vineyards. (Presentation at the 2012 Oregon Wine Industry Symposium)

Number of Wineries

  • 1995 = 1800
  • 2011 = 7000+

Number of Distributors

  • 1995 = 3000
  • 2011 = 675

Do the math…

What happens in this process is called growth opportunities through ingenuity for small business. Changing their original business model, if the leadership is on very solid ground, the business will survive its new incarnation.

For J Vineyards, their business acumen was expanded. Their everyday price point doesn’t fall into the $20 or less category that most consumers are willing to pay in outlets. In their own environment at the winery, however, people line up to be part of their intimate and personalized marketing efforts. Success at the winery will guarantee that they maintain a great business, as they leave much of the three-tier system to eventually implode. (Think of the big three in the auto industry, or the big three airline carriers…)

They reinvented themselves… I’m calling it J Vineyards 2.0.

Their new still wines are here under Melissa’s direction, they’re muy delicioso, and she’s ready to share them with the world. Amazingly, she’s very humble and nervous about their success; from my seat, she’s got nothing to worry about.

Melissa Stackhouse 2010 J Vineyards New Chardonnay Releases

  1. 2010 J Vineyards Estate Grown Chardonnay ~ Russian River Valley
    • This wine is a blend of their estate grapes. Melissa talked about its vexing aromatics, and I couldn’t have written that one any better; although I did get Werther’s butterscotch aromas from this wine, along with citric acid and hints of vanilla. I tasted the lemon/butterscotch that was present on the nose… it followed through on my palate, with the finish being divine and lingering.
    • This one deserves to be paired with poultry, pork, and fish dishes.
  2. 2010 J Vineyards Chardonnay ~ (George) Jewell Ranch Vineyard
    • Terroir driven, this one is Clone 17, and it’s a single vineyard designate.
    • This Chard has gorgeous flavors, as well as aromatics. It’s clean, crisp and very food friendly, with beautiful flavor lines of spicy lemon zest, golden delicious apples, and a slight toasted almond finish.
    • A bit richer than the first, this one would pair well with salmon dishes
  3. 2010 J Vineyards Chardonnay ~ STRATA
    • “Burgundian…” Jose told stories of working for The Wine Spectrum, when he was privy to lots of Burgundies coming to the sales team. In their tastings to become more educated, Jose fell in love with white Burgundies, and the STRATA brought him right back to those days… This Chardonnay is going to be taking J Vineyards to new levels of wine. It delivered a wine not as minerally as the two that began the tasting, and it is really seeming to define Russian River Valley Chardonnay for us… Those influences of morning river fog and flavors of mushrooms with plums was so welcoming. A really excellent wine, this one was possibly my favorite, if one can do that with four excellent wines.
    • Melissa called this one a “bit coy.” She said that she really wasn’t striving for austere wines. As she worked with each one, she wanted the fruit to capture the locations.
  4. 2010 J Vineyards Chardonnay ~ Barrel 16
    • It’s a blend of the 16 best barrels that were produced with the 2010 vintage… Like a patchwork quilt, taking the most beautiful of all materials for the final creation, Melissa blended them into one melange that was still seamless in its finished wine… Flavors blended into a tapestry on my palate that danced the light fandango. The wienry is suggesting popcorn with this one. I’m suggesting a creamy, dill asparagus soup.
    • An elegant Grande Dame, whole grape clusters were hand harvested between 23.5º and 24º brix, and then gently pressed in their Coquard press, it’s a great one for your company that understands a truly great wine when they have one. Barrels from the Vosges region of France added spices of nutmeg and vanilla to the palate and finish, along with a creamy texture that suggested butter, along with ripe apples.

Melissa Stackhouse 2010 J Vineyards New Pinot Noir Releases

  1. 2010 J Vineyards Pinot Noir ~ Freestone Hill Vineyard
    • This one is from the 777 clone, coming from a cool area of Russian River Valley. Aromas of mushrooms and earth enticed me to get right to taste this food friendly wine. Still a young wine, the cedar notes and concentrated flavors from the small clusters delivered a very important wine to J’s program.
    • Get ready for cherries, cocoa, and earthy flavors that won’t disappoint a Pinot lover.
  2. 2010 J Vineyards Pinot Noir ~ STRATA
    • Again, heeded to new heights the density and broodiness of this wine will be appreciated by the most ardent Pinotphiles among us. This one moves away from the cherry and plum side, right into blackberries and darker cherries. the grapes for this one were hand harvested at night, keeping the grapes cool and allowing the wine that came forth to be austere.
    • Think wild turkey or wild boar that hang out in oak groves to go well with this one.
  3. 2010 J Vineyards Pinot Noir ~ Robert Thomas Vineyard
    • This is J’s 47-acrea Estate vineyard, adjacent to Westside Road, at the elbow of the Russian River Valley, as it rounds a sharp corner and heads west to the Pacific Ocean. Named for Judy’s son Robert this property is near and dear to Judy Jordan. One might think that this one would be producing the masculine Pinots; for this vintage, it was quite the opposite. the wine is round and feminine, and very inviting in a very sensual, lush way. Melissa called it a wine that reminds her of a walk in the Armstrong Woods. We all agreed.
    • Think of pairing it with stuffed mushrooms, or a delicate cut of beef.
  4. 2010 J Vineyards Pinot Noir ~ Nicole Vineyard
    • Dense and brooding, this on brought out the masculine side of Pinot. Again, this one was named for Judy’s daughter Nicole. For this vintage and named for Judy’s children vineyards, you’ll have to think of the 2010 vintage having the names and their gender characteristics flip-flopped.
    • This one had the appearance of a good Merlot, and the aromas gave spice a new name… chococinnamon… Think of a roasted lamb or wild boar, and you’ve got the perfect match.

Wines for lunch…

These wines have J Vineyards on a new path to success. If you love great Chardonnays that aren’t over manipulated that have delicate, yet delicious flavors, you’ll love the J wines… The same holds true for the Pinot Noirs… All so delicious.

J’s Executive Chef Mark E. Caldwell delivered the following menu to go with the following wines:

  • 2010 J Vineyards Barrel 16 Chardonnay, Russian River Valley
    • Pan Seared California King Salmon, Leek and Fennel Cream
  • 2010 J Vineyards Barrel 16 Pinot Noir, Russian River Valley
    • Slow Roasted Lamb Noisette, Grilled Summer Squash, Chive infused Yukon Gold Potato Puree, lamb Jus Reduction
  • J Brut Rosé, Russian River Valley
    • Riesling Grape Seed Oil Custard, Ratofia Macerated Summer Berries, Crème Fraîche Twist

Off to lunch we all went…

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One Response to “J Vineyards 2.0”

  1. Kathy says:

    Jo, I knew the numbers were shocking – but hadn’t seen them in print. Thanks for pointing out the problem (and thanks to Eugenia Keegan and Ellen Brittan of Brittan Vineyards).

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