2011 Best Sparkling Wine: J Vineyards & Winery
Author: Virginie Boone
May, 2011 Issue
J Vineyards & Winery has been voted Best Sparkling Wine in the 2011 NorthBay biz readers poll.
A repeat winner from last year, J Vineyards & Winery
is again being recognized for its sparkling wines, among the standard bearers of bubbly in California for almost 25 years.
“It’s a great honor that recognizes the consistency of our wines,” stated J’s communications director George Rose of the NorthBay biz win. “We’re committed to being a boutique sparkling wine house.”
A trained geologist, winery founder Judy Jordan started J in 1986 years to specifically focus on making sparkling wine, after realizing the potential of the Russian River Valley for Chardonnay and Pinot Noir grapes early on by understanding its myriad of soil types. Thus, it’s not surprising that the winery’s secret weapon has always been its land, some 274 acres in the Russian River Valley, spread across eight estate vineyards.
“Twenty years ago, we were able to search up and down the coast and see what grapes [and grapegrowing areas] would be best for making sparkling wine, and we settled on Russian River,” Jordan says. “I realize [now] how lucky I am to have these vineyards, for so many reasons.”
J was initially a partnership between Jordan and her mentor and father, Tom, who 10 years earlier had established Jordan Vineyard & Winery in Alexander Valley, a still much-revered producer of Cabernet Sauvignon (see Best Cabernet Sauvignon
). Jordan bought out her father’s shares in 1995, determined to make it on her own.
That she has. At the beginning, J consisted of one Pinot Noir vineyard, one Chardonnay vineyard and an old prune processing plant on Eastside Road, which Jordan improvised into a crush pad. After the winery flooded in 1995, she relocated the winery to the former site of Piper-Sonoma, just outside of Healdsburg, where J remains today.
Winemaker George Bursick, a longtime friend of Jordan’s, was brought on board in 2006 to elevate the varietal wines as well as help oversee the sparkling program. He’s recently left to focus on his own consulting business (his last harvest was 2010), and the winery has announced that Melissa Stackhouse (most recently with La Crema) has been brought in as the new winemaker.
J’s Cuvée 20 Brut is a beautiful starting point into its sparkling wines, priced at $22, made in a crisp, fruit-forward style. The winery’s Brut Rosé ($30) is a delightfully pink, Pinot Noir-based sparkling wine, long a favorite with consumers who like a bit more body in their bubbly.
J also offers a vintage Brut ($40), vintages 2000 through 2004 are available now, and late-disgorged Brut ($65), the 1997 is current, available in the tasting room, on the website or via J’s wine club. J also makes a stellar line-up of varietal wines, notably Russian River Pinot Noir, Chardonnay and Pinot Gris, as well as a specialty J Pear Liqueur.
Back to article list | Top of page