J. Christopher Wines: winery information
Winemaker: Jay Somers
In the years leading up to the launch of his own winery, Jay had the great fortune to work with Don Kautzner at Adelsheim Vineyard in Oregon, Neil McCallum at Dry Creek Vineyard in New Zealand, and John Paul at Cameron Winery in Oregon. From Don, he learned that it was possible to make Burgundian-style Pinots in Oregon. Through Neil, he gained a passion for white wines. And in John, he found a lifelong friend and mentor. In his five years at Cameron, Jay adopted an Old World style of vineyard management and winemaking — a style that resulted in wines that tasted more like the Burgundies he loved to drink. With John’s encouragement, he bottled his first J. Christopher vintage in 1996, using the Cameron facility and fruit purchased from the neighboring Charlie’s vineyard. (Side note: Jay is the first and only winemaker ever to make wine from this excellent vineyard.) His first vintage, like many to follow, sold out in less than a week. In 2004, an opportunity arose to help the shorthanded crew at the Dr. Loosen winery in Germany’s Mosel Valley. A big fan of German Rieslings, Jay pounced on it. Over many bottles of wine after long days of work, he and winemaker Ernst Loosen discovered that they had a mutual taste and passion for Pinot Noir. Ernie had long dreamed of owning vineyards in Burgundy, but, turned off by the price, had begun thinking about the second best place in the world to grow Pinot Noir: Oregon. Over many more bottles, the two hatched a plan, and soon began making a collaborative Oregon Pinot called Appassionata. In 2010, they formalized their partnership, bought a 40-acre property on Chehalem Mountain in Newberg, Oregon, and began building a new J. Christopher winery. Jay continues as the winemaker for the partnership, while Ernie provides Old World expertise and financial support.
Annual Production: 8,000 cases
Grape Varieties Planted