Monday, May 23, 2011


Kerry Manahan-Ehlow

Kathryn Lindstrom, CFO/General Manager of J Vineyards & Winery, today announced the appointment of Kerry Manahan-Ehlow as Vice President of Sales and Marketing.  Manahan-Ehlow will oversee all sales, marketing, and direct-to-consumer efforts for the winery.

“After successfully establishing J as a top Sonoma County sparkling wine producer, our Founder & President, Judy Jordan, has set her sights on becoming a leader in Russian River Valley estate-driven Pinot Noir and Chardonnay varietal wines,” said Lindstrom. “Kerry brings the experience and know-how to translate our vision into a reality for our distributors and our customers.”

Manahan-Ehlow was previously Chief Operating Officer at Foley Family Wines, managing global sales, marketing, and PR duties across 16 domestic and 5 New Zealand wine brands.  She is a 25-year veteran of the wine industry who has owned her own consulting business, and has worked across a broad spectrum of iconic brands, including Robert Mondavi Winery, Chalk Hill Estate Vineyards & Winery, Matanzas Creek Winery, and Kendall-Jackson Winery.

She is an active member of the Sonoma County Vintners Senior Leadership Team, worked with the UC Davis Graduate School of Management students on wine marketing and studied Communications and Public Relations at California State University at Fullerton.

J Vineyards & Winery has recently expanded its sales efforts across the country, adding Kevin Nissen as Northeast Regional Sales Manager based in New York; Rick Choate, Southeast Regional Sales Manager based in Florida; and Diane Denham, Central Regional Sales Manager based in Texas. Two weeks ago, the winery tapped Melissa Stackhouse as VicePresident of Winemaking.

“For the past 25 years, J Vineyards & Winery has followed an independent path of elegance and authenticity in the wine business,” said Manahan-Ehlow.  “I’m proud to be a part of an energized J team and plan on laying the foundation for another 25 successful years.”

J Vineyards & Winery is located at 11447 Old Redwood Highway southof Healdsburg.  The winery focuses on Brut and Brut Rosé sparkling wines, as well as Pinot Noir, Chardonnay, and Pinot Gris Estate varietal wines, produced from grapes farmed primarily within Sonoma County’s Russian River Valley appellation.

Founded by Judy Jordan in 1986, J Vineyards & Winery is an independently owned Sonoma County winery.  The winery kicks off its 25thAnniversary celebration this year.  To learn more, or to join the J Wine Club, go to


Chef Mark E. Caldwell and Andrea Mugnaini

J Vineyards & Winery teams up with Healdsburg-based chef and author, Andrea Mugnaini, for a “Pinot & Pizza” food and wine event at the Visitor Center. Mugnaini will be employing a large portable wood-fired pizza oven, and along with J Executive Chef Mark E. Caldwell, will create tasty pizzas featuring organic farm fresh vegetables, artisanal cheeses from Bellwether Farms, Fra’Mani handcrafted salumi, and O Olive Oil.

All pizzas will be paired with J Vineyards Russian River Valley Estate Pinot Noir wines. Mugnaini will also sign copies of her new book, “The Art of Wood Fired Cooking.” The cost is $15 per person for Club J members; non-Wine Club members, $25 per person. Reservations are not necessary as tickets will only be sold on the day of the event.

For more information, please call (707) 431-5430 or (707) 431-3646.

About J Vineyards & Winery
J Vineyards & Winery is located at 11447 Old Redwood Highway south of Healdsburg. The winery focuses on Brut and Brut Rosé sparkling wines, as well as Pinot Noir, Chardonnay, and Pinot Gris Estate varietal wines, produced from grapes farmed primarily within Sonoma County’s Russian River Valley appellation.

Founded by Judy Jordan in 1986, J Vineyards & Winery is an independently owned Sonoma County winery. The winery kicks off its 25th Anniversary celebration this year. To learn more, or to join the J Wine Club, go to

Tuesday, May 10, 2011


Richard Paul Hinkle is a contributing editor to Quarterly Review of Wines and is also the author of nine wine books. QRW is one of the publications that I deeply respect and enjoy, BTW, because of their high standards of story contents and the wine writers’ profiles.

Congratulations, Judy… May you have another 25 years of fabulous success!

By Richard Paul Hinkle

“A mind expanded by a new idea never returns to its former size.” Supreme Court Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes Jr.

One of the things we learned about California wine in recent years is this: It matters where the grapes are grown. Not just a little, but a whole lot. In fact, it’s pretty much what separates world-class wines from everything else.

The good news is that, once California wine producers learned this lesson, winemakers jumped in with both feet. Growers began to understand that they were not just growing grapes, but rather that their end product was, in fact, the very definition of terroir.

Once these lessons began to sink in, crop levels dropped, attention was paid to matching the right variety with each specific plot of land, clones and rootstocks mattered, and trellis systems were assessed and reassessed. A “question everything” mantra came into play bringing with it great and enduring rewards.

There was once a small tasting room that boasted this sign on the back wall: “You don’t have to be an astrophysicist to make fine wine.” The joke was, of course, that the winemaker was a retired NASA astrophysicist.

Well, it also certainly doesn’t hurt to be a geologist who just happens to run a top shelf winery. At J Vineyards & Winery that fact came in handy when Founder and President Judy Jordan began to realize that many of her best vineyard acreage was better suited to varietal wines than they were for the sparkling wines. The winery’s motto is “A Legacy That Sparkles,” but the future was pointing in a new direction.
[Judy Jordan in 1987]

“My roots in the soil, as you suggest, do come honestly,” she says with a wily grin. “As a trained geologist (she earned an Earth Sciences degree from Stanford University), I have come to know how terroir is the foundation in the creation of world-class wines. The magnificent alluvial soils found in the Russian River Valley were formed over the millennia and play an important role in our ability to make great wine. I am fortunate to be accompanied on this journey of exploration by top viticulturist, John Erbe, and now, our new Vice President of Winemaking Melissa Stackhouse. Both are experts on all aspects of the Russian River Valley terrain.”

Jordan continues, “In 2010 we embarked on a new direction for J. With the official launch of our estate varietal Pinot Noir and Chardonnay wines, we are staking our legacy on the terroir of Sonoma County’s Russian River Valley. This unique viticultural appellation is our home. It is where we farm 254-acres of cool-climate grapes, planted on a myriad of rootstocks and clones, and all located along the loam and gravel benches and hillsides on the edges of the Russian River.”

“While we remain dedicated to our sparkling wine program, our varietal estate wines clearly represent the next generation of J Vineyards & Winery. The new varietal packaging, featuring a more subtle version of our classic J “paintbrush” logo, is designed to distinguish the varietal table wines from our sparkling wines. The new labels reflect all the distinctive elements that comprise the very definition of terroir — soil, water, air, plant life, and the human touch.”

When Judy Jordan took over the former Remy facility, immediately adjacent to Rodney Strong Winery, south of Healdsburg, she set out to produce top flight sparkling wines exclusively. But over the years, the fruit of her Russian River Valley vineyards quietly began to assert itself. In small and subtle ways it let her know that, perhaps, varietal wines ought to become a more important part of her portfolio.

“We did GPS mapping of our ten Russian River Valley Estate vineyards,” say Viticulturalist John Erbe. “We took core soil samples to get to know every striation, to the point where we’re not guessing anymore. We all agreed that you have to be willing to shake things up every now and again.”

That reward came two-fold: First, in the richly-textured, full-bodied Pinot Noirs that immediately gained the attention of the wine press; second, in the timing of the introduction. With the recent recession putting a damper on the nation’s need to celebrate, J’s low-key rollout was just the right tone to establish itself as an important Pinot Noir producer.

Of course, every smart winery owner is looking for the next big thing. And at J, it is Pinot Gris. “There’s an Oregon style, an Italian style, a French style, and there’s even an Okanagan Valley style, but there’s no definitive California style — yet,” says Jordan. “There’s a serious business upside in having J develop a California style for this varietal. With 25 years of sparkling wine under our belt, we wrote the book on crisp and clean.”
To that end, J has created a “California” appellation Pinot Gris — drawing fruit from Monterey, Clarksburg (in the Sacramento River Delta) and Russian River Valley — a wine that is, in fact, is crisp and clean, a “fun” wine with a screw cap, sold at a reasonable price. The wine itself is a vinous delight, with a bright steely-lemon-lime core, a touch of Golden Delicious apple, and a tangy hint of lavender in the finish.

[Judy Jordan today]

With the winery turning a vibrant quarter century old this year, Judy Jordan — an exciting, energetic and elegant force in her own right — knows that vitality requires constant burnishing.

“As an entrepreneur and mother of two, I have worked hard to shape a successful wine company that is the essence of elegance and balance,” says Jordan. “Our sparkling wines, featuring the distinctive yellow ‘J’ signature, are instantly recognized around the country by consumers, whether in a restaurant or a retail outlet. Here in our Visitor Center Signature Bar and Bubble Lounge tasting rooms, we offer innovative food-and-wine pairings that demonstrate the extensive range of both our sparkling wines and table wines. It’s an exciting time to be in the wine business. As long as we keep learning and expanding our horizons, it will remain so.”

J Cuvée 20 Russian River Sparkling Wine ($22): You’ve got to love the brisk, right-to-the-point pear and apple zestiness that defines this sparkler, but it’s the fresh cream component that allows this wine to round out and settle in on your palate deliciously.

J 2008 Russian River Valley Chardonnay ($28): Flush with ripe Fuji apple sappiness, this wine spreads out nicely with a hint of butter, the tang of hazelnut, all delectably balanced to handle anything from shellfish to sole in a cream sauce.
J 2008 Russian River Valley Pinot Noir ($35): The scent of rose petals draws you in, backed up by fleshy black cherry fruit in the middle and finish, spiced with a hint of sage to make your mouth water. Pair this with a juicy slab of beef or lamb, brushed with butter-sautéed mushroom sauce.

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Featured Club J Member "Barbara Croteau"!

Featured Member

Barbara Croteau
Photo taken at J Signature Bar

How long have you been a member of Club J?

Barbara   Eight Years!

What do you like best / enjoy about Club J?

Barbara  The great wines and great people who work here.  Great events and the Bubble Room is the best!

What is your favorite J Wine & Food Pairing?

Barbara   J Vineyards Pinotage with Santa Maria tri-tip.

Special Interests you would like to share about you.

Barbara   Look forward to gardening, hiking and snorkeling on the Big Island in my impending retirement.

To inquire about becoming a Featured Club J Member, please contact Elisa Brennan at, or visit our J Tasting Room and the Wine Specialists will be happy to obtain your feedback and photo.

We look forward to seeing you featured on the J Vineyards & Winery Facebook Fan Page!


Monday, May 2, 2011


Photography by George Rose

J Vineyards & Winery, the Russian River Valley sparkling and varietal wine producer, has appointed Melissa Stackhouse as its new Vice President of Winemaking.

Stackhouse will lead a dedicated winemaking team in solidifying J’s 25-year reputation as a top Sonoma County sparkling wine house, and build on the winery’s budding estate-driven varietal wine program.

“Melissa brings a wealth of Russian River Valley experience that will lift J to a new level of Estate-driven Pinot Noir, Chardonnay and Pinot Gris winemaking,” said J Vineyards & Winery Founder and President, Judy Jordan. “She possesses a unique ability to connect with people, but it is her amazing skill as a winemaker that defines her, and will help shape my vision for J.”

Photography by George Rose

Stackhouse is a graduate of the University of California at Davis where she earned a Bachelor degree in Viticulture and Enology in 1998. She was Winemaker at La Crema from 2003 to 2010, and most recently, Pinot Noir Winemaster for all Jackson Family Wines.

“I look forward to walking Judy’s Estate vineyards with an eye on the fast-approaching 2011 harvest,” said Stackhouse. “Winemaking at J will retain its intimacy and authenticity, rooted in the soil, clones, and everything Mother Nature has to offer.”

Stackhouse takes over the winemaking duties at J following the departure of winemaking veteran George Bursick, who has gone on to develop Bursick Wine Consulting.

J Vineyards & Winery is located at 11447 Old Redwood Highway south of Healdsburg. The winery focuses on Brut and Brut Rosé sparkling wines, as well as Pinot Noir, Chardonnay, and Pinot Gris Estate varietal wines, produced from grapes farmed primarily within Sonoma County’s Russian River Valley appellation.

Founded by Judy Jordan in 1986, J Vineyards & Winery is an independently owned Sonoma County winery. The winery is celebrating its 25th Anniversary this year. To learn more, or to join the J Wine Club, go to