J Vineyards Expanding in Russian River

Two of three new vineyards planted to Pinot Noir and Chardonnay

by Kate Lavin
J Vineyards Russian River
All 10 of J Vineyards' properties are located in the Russian River Valley.
Russian River Valley, Calif.--After joining J Vineyards in 2006, winemaker George Bursick immediately began cultivating the winery's vision of achieving the highest quality, a goal that required sacrificing yields to get the most concentrated and flavorful fruit. So as other wineries and vineyards were looking for ways to trim costs in late 2008, J Vineyards was closing on deals to acquire three new vineyard sites, a move that promises to keep production on the uptick. (The winery is on track to bottle 55,000 cases this year.)

Kathryn Lindstrom, general manager and CFO at J Vineyards, told Wines & Vines that Bursick combined his knowledge of terroir with the expertise of owner Judy Jordan, a specialist in the areas of geology and business, to create a wish list of attributes for the new vineyard properties. Then they started shopping.

New sites
The winery consulted with Paul Skinner of Terra Spase about soil analysis to identify which soil elements already were working in J Vineyards' favor. "We were able to evaluate our vineyard internally," Lindstrom said. "We also had the opportunity to explore soil types we thought were of interest to the Russian River Valley Appellation."

    Size: 37.8 acres
    Soils: Arbuckle sandy loam, Zamora silty clay loam, Yolo sandy loam and Cortina silty clay loam
    Clones: Pinot Noir: Dijon 667, Dijon 777, Dijon 828, Dijon 943, Dijon 115, Swan, Rochioli, Pommard and 2A; Chardonnay: 76, Rued, Wente and Robert Young.
    Size: 14.5 acres
    Goldridge loam
    Clones: Planting in 2010
    Size: 16.5 acres
    Soil: Steinbeck soil, Goldridge loam
    Clones: Pinot Noir: Dijon 667, Dijon 777, Dijon 828, Pommard and Dijon 943.
Staff at J Vineyards ultimately chose the new sites because of their suitability for Pinot Noir and Chardonnay, J Vineyards' focus. The first site, Sally Ann's Vineyard, will provide the coolest temperatures in J Vineyards' 10-vineyard profile, making it ideal as a Pinot Noir site. Soil at Sally Ann is predominantly Goldridge loam, as is the soil at Dotty Stan, a relatively small plot where apples currently are grown. The third vineyard, Bow Tie, is home to various types of silty clay loam and sandy loam; vineyard crew already have planted half the site to Pinot Noir, and the other half to Chardonnay.

At the time of purchase, only one of the new vineyard sites was planted to winegrapes, and J is redeveloping the vineyard to bring the varieties in line with its program, as well as tailoring rootstocks and clones for site specificity.

With the new additions, the winery now owns 257 acres of vineyard land. All in the Russian River Valley, they are planted with a mix of nine different rootstocks and 27 clones (14 Pinot Noir, 10 Chardonnay and three Pinot Gris). Lindstrom said that Dotty Stan Vineyard will be planted to winegrapes in 2010, with that acreage likely devoted to a mix of Pinot Noir and Chardonnay clones, rather than one variety.

From vine to wine
Though winegrapes won't be harvested until 2011 or 2012 at the earliest, Lindstrom said J Vineyards plans to operate the three newest vineyards in the same way it does its others, including carving out separate sub-lots to receive individual consideration about factors such as moisture levels, and bottling vineyard-designate wines from the new sites. (Among the six Pinot Noir wines currently being released by J Vineyards are vineyard-designates from Nicole's Vineyard, Nonny's Vineyard and Robert Thomas Vineyard.)
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