Smokin' J's A quick chat with a winemaker who can kick your Thanksgiving dinner up by many, many notches. Smokin' J's A quick chat with a winemaker who can kick your Thanksgiving dinner up by many, many notches.
Harvest is over and George Bursick finally has a second to breathe. The VP of winemaking for J Vineyards & Winery makes a suite of wines with plots of land that are unlike anything coming out of northern California. Go ahead and Google “J wines” and witness the lauding. So now’s the time to place an order for your Thanksgiving meal (all available at www.jwine.com). Start with Cuvee 20, an affordable sparkler that will set the tone right, then move into Pinot Gris and then J’s signature Pinot Noirs. Since J makes sparkling wines that give the French guys a run for their grapes, we suggest a night-cap of J’s late-disgorged vintage Brut.
SF: What’s the secret to making sparkling wine as complex as yours with northern CA grapes?
GB: We are one of only a handful of wineries outside of France to use a Coquard press. It presses the fruit gently from side-to-side, which minimizes the extraction of tannin and allowing for virtually no maceration, preserving the wine’s flavor.
SF: J seems to have a small monopoly on the Russian River Valley. Is it common for one winery to have land all over the place?
GB: Not many wineries have this much dirt – J farms 257 acres of vineyards checkerboarded throughout the Valley with over 20 different soil types in varying climates. This means I have a broad palette of flavors with which to make our wines.
SF: You’re in a band called Private Reserve with other wine guys. Do you drink beer or wine after the show?
GB: At practices and before gigs, we usually compare unreleased wines with each other. After playing drums hard on stage, though, believe me, nothing beats a cold beer.