Nicole Hitchcock

At the foundation of one of the Russian River Valley’s most celebrated icons of winemaking, J Vineyards & Winery, was the vision of a strong, entrepreneurial woman. Inspired by the traditions of centuries-old French sparkling houses, Judy Jordan, a trained geologist, searched the West Coast for ideal vineyard sites. In the Russian River Valley, she found cool, foggy mornings, sun-drenched afternoons and a wide diversity of soils—perfect conditions for growing the three long-established French sparkling wine grapes: Pinot Noir, Chardonnay and Pinot Meunier.

The release of the 1986 Vintage Brut bubbly marked the beginning of the J story. By 1994, a new chapter was added with the release of terroir-driven still wines. Crafting wines that reflect a sense of place, J focuses on the land, growing grapes across six exceptional estate vineyards throughout the Russian River Valley and Sonoma Coast. In the cellar, J blends reverence for European winemaking technique with contemporary California-inspired style.

Head Winemaker Nicole Hitchcock continues a legacy of women leaders at the winery, offering her unique perspective on what was once a maledominated craft. “The wine industry was founded on tradition, but innovation is what has kept it alive and intriguing to generation after generation of wine aficionados,” she says. “It is essential to respect and learn from the past, but not to be afraid to push the boundaries and chart new territory. Taking the time to understand tradition is invaluable for many reasons, but perhaps most importantly so that one can intelligently use this knowledge to improve and modernize their approach.”

A showcase of site-specific winemaking, the J portfolio explores the depth and breadth of traditional method sparkling styles and the complexity and distinctiveness of Russian River Valley Pinot Noir, Chardonnay and Pinot Gris. The J bubbly collection is led by the refined Cuvée 20 and the vibrant Brut Rosé, with small-lot expressions like Blanc de Blancs, Blanc de Noirs and Late Disgorged Vintage Brut. Single-vineyard Pinot Noir and Chardonnay offer a focused taste of estate vineyards, while intricate blends such as Barrel 16 and Noir Collection offer the comprehensive, layered flavors of this world-renowned region.

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