Las Jaras

A good marriage (of wine and comedy)

 

Quick facts:

Location: Sebastopol, California, USA

Owner & winemaker: Joel Burt and Eric Wareheim

Vineyard area: variable – the grapes are sourced from carefully selected growers in Mendocino, Sonoma, and other parts of California (or Oregon for the Pinot Noir)

Vineyard management: practicing organics or organic-certified, depending on the source vineyard (with an exception for the Chenin vineyard)

Soils: diverse alluvial soils, depending on the vineyard

Main varieties: Carignan, Petite Sirah, Zinfandel, Pinot Noir, Chenin. Most of the wines are blends of Southern French or Italian varieties

Winemaking: spontaneous fermentation, diverse aging and fermentation vessels. No fining, sometimes light filtration before bottling.

 

Fun facts:

  • Las Jaras is a labor of friendship between a long-time California winemaker Joel Burt and comedian Eric Wareheim (of Master of None, Tim & Eric or Reality fame)
  • “Sweet Berry Wine”, the first wine they ever made, was born out of a desire to share wine with Eric’s comedy fans; it features John C. Reilly, one of Eric’s comedic counterparts, on the label, and has been part of the range ever since
  • The winery was officially born a year after, with the 2016 vintage
  • The guys have been actively working on turning their growers into chemical-free farming, and now virtually all the vineyards are practicing or certified organic
  • The winery name (“The Arrows” in Spanish) comes from one of the lottery cards that Joel’s Mexican coworkers would leave behind at his old table grape farm job
  • Besides the love for wine, the guys also share an enormous love for food; Eric even co-authored a cookbook of his own.

 

Jump to wines | Las Jaras Website

 

Two guys meet in a garage and… well, in this case, this isn’t the beginning of an internet mogul company, but of a natural wine brand called Las Jaras. It all started in the late aughts with a garage wine made by Joel, a trained winemaker then working for various big wineries in California. “I’d never had a wine like this before – it was a sparkling Carignan similar to the one we’re making now. So fresh and energetic, so different from the corporate Champagnes or hefty California wines I knew back then. It really moved me,” Eric, a cult comedian and “top food blogger”, recalls the first meeting with his friend’s produce. After this epiphany, Joel also set Eric on a path to Italian and French regions; the original exploration of classical wines and styles soon deviated towards more natural and low intervention wines and eventually led to Las Jaras, “a mix of those two approaches” as Eric puts it. 

The very first wine ever made was a 2015 Sweet Berry Wine, a now-classic bold red with a portrait of Eric’s comedy partner John C. Reilly on its label. What started as a trick to lure comedy fans into low-intervention winemaking leaped into a regular winery with the next vintage, as the guys bought a bunch of Carignan grapes and made a couple of different cuvées. Fueled by Eric’s love for a lighter style of wines and European classics, the duo has since explored multiple grapes and styles, from a darker style Rosato made with Italian grapes to an elegant, poised Chenin or a highly drinkable light carbonic pizza red, aptly named Glou Glou. “It’s very much a personal voyage,” Eric nods, “our tastes change every year, so there still is some experimentation coming on, inspired by what we like to drink at the moment. Take our Oregon Pinot Noir, that wine is partly due to our friends Andy from St.Reginald Parish or Joe Swick: we tasted their wine and told them “shit, man, this is great, can we buy your grapes too?’,” Eric laughs at the West Coast wine community dynamics. “But the goal is always the same, putting beautiful wine out there.”

How difficult is it to harmonize changing tastes of two quite different people, you ask? “I’ve learned through comedy that the idea of a big ego just doesn’t work for success. So I really enjoy these creative partnerships I have, be it with Tim [Heidecker, Eric’s other half in the Tim and Eric comedy duo] or Aziz [Ansari, of the Netflix show Master of None], these are people who are better at doing something than I am and I feel like my role is to empower them and push them to go further. And it’s the same with Joel–I want him to make what he’s passionate about. Luckily, just like Tim and I are one brain in comedy, Joel and I are one brain when it comes to winemaking philosophy and practices. I trust him so much,” Wareheim explains in his interview with the Pipette Magazine, recalling how happy he is that Joel resisted his urge to go overly “funky” in the winemaking style. 

Joel and Eric indeed work on the “cleaner side of natural”, as they put it, with a very simple philosophy in the cellar: pick it when it’s just right, use different kinds of vessels (there’s some concrete oak experiment going on), not much oak, and then “don’t fuck with it”. Some of the wines (like the new Waves cans) are lightly filtered and received a small dose of sulfur, but that’s about it; on the other end, their wildly popular Superbloom cuvée is actually a zero-zero co-ferment of red and white grapes, inspired by Eric’s visit to Alice Bouvot’s Octavin. An important shift allowing for this kind of work happened in the grape sourcing: with every vintage, Joel and Eric have shifted towards more and more organic grapes, actively incentivizing growers to go fully organic. “All of our fruit sources have been organic since the 2018 vintage except for the Chenin Blanc that messed up with one herbicide spray. The vineyard just changed hands, so we will hopefully get it right with the new grower for the 2022 season,” Joel explains.

It’s precisely this kind of commitment to quality and immediate energy appeal of their wines that sets Las Jaras apart from the dreadful “wine from a celebrity” drawer. “Oh, we did get these reactions in the beginning, of course–and I don’t really blame people for thinking this way, I’d probably be turned off by that too. I guess not everybody knew how seriously I take food and wine,” Eric shrugs, content with the fact that due to their dedication, they managed to genuinely make their “peers, winemaker friends or restaurant managers happy” in the end.

We can attest to the dedication: it’s highly moving and entertaining at the same time to see a 6’7” guy almost levitate with joy over an expertly prepared fish and top-notch olive oil or a soulful German Riesling that we had the luck to share with him on different places on Earth. Or to see his winemaking partner prepare a serious sourdough Detroit-style pizza like Joel did for us in one Instagram live; there’s definitely a lot of skill and joie de vivre involved in the Las Jaras enterprise. “These are the best moments in your life,” Eric confirms: “being with your friends or your lover, drinking a bottle of wine, laughing, and talking. Sometimes you’re talking about the wine, sometimes about life, but wine is always a part of it.”

 

Wines

 

Sparkling — Back to the top

Winemakers’ note: “this wine is made by a process that we call “methode untraditionelle”. We have found that many sparkling wines can be quite gauche as a result of the compromises the winemakers have to make with the traditional method. Our method uses secondary bottle fermentation but with no sugar added because we stop the primary fermentation with enough residual sugar for the refermentation, resulting in a wine that is very refined and elegant.”

Label art by Jen Stark

Grape: 100% Carignan

Vineyard: Ricetti Vineyard, Redwood Valley, which is in the cool northern end of the Ukiah Valley in Mendocino County. Certified organic vineyard farmed by Pamela and Tom Ricetti. The old vines are dry-farmed and the soils are gravelly loam.

Making of: The hand-picked grapes were whole-cluster pressed to stainless steel tank. After racking the clear juice, the wine was naturally fermented at a controlled temperature – first warmed, then cooled. At about 2 brix (23g/L residual sugar), the tank was chilled in order to stop fermentation, but as it still kept going, the winemakers decided to filter the wine to get it to stop. 20ppm of sulfur were added post-primary fermentation. After several weeks at cool temperature to naturally cold stabilize, the wine was racked and blended with a small amount of organic yeast extract (food for the yeast) and a Champagne yeast culture and then bottled to start the secondary fermentation in bottle, using the wine’s natural residual sugar. The wine was stored sur latte (on its side) for 15 months until fermented dry and ready for disgorgement. Topped by the same wine, no dosage, no further sulfur at this stage.

Personality: “copper hue, a nose of green strawberry, hay in the breeze, toasted hazelnuts and marshmallow. On the palate there is apricot, comice pear and cocoa enveloped in a fine texture. Long finish with crisp lime-like acidity. This wine will age beautifully over the next several years,” Eric and Joel say.


Old Vine Rosé — Back to the top

Joel and Eric on this wine: “Yes, this is a pink party wine—but it’s a classy pink party wine. This is a rosé you want to bring home to meet your parents. It deserves to be drunk alongside imported tinned fish, artisanal baguettes, and plenty of salted butter. If this rosé could talk, it would have a lilting French accent and quote Godard.

“Our approach to rosé is to think less about the varietal makeup and more about the style and vibe it conveys. So even though our cépage has changed—in the past vintages we have had varying percentages of Carignan and Zinfandel, 2022 has seen a tiny Vermentino addition, á la Provence where they call the variety Rolle – the wine is still an evolution of its signature style. Our goal is a wine that is both fruity and savory,
and every year we nudge the wine in the direction it needs to go in a quest for balance, deliciousness and refreshment.”

Grapes: 75% Zinfandel, 23% Carignan, 2% Vermentino (2022)

Vineyards:  Zinfandel and Carignan come from Gary Venturi vineyard in Calpella, north of Ukiah, head trained dry farmed old vines, certified organic. Vermentino from Larry Venturi vineyard is on the other side of the highway and the Vermentino is a newer block, certified organic.

Making of: The Carignan was whole-cluster pressed as soon as the fruit was received at the winery. The Zinfandel was destemmed and then added to the press with its stems. 10ppm sulfur addition, 24 hours of settling the juice at cellar temperature, then racked for native primary fermentation. Once these lots had fermented to dryness, they were combined into one tank for storage on their lees until bottling at cool temperatures where it went through native malo-lactic fermentation. Blended with a small amount of Vermentino and a small amount of sulfur before bottling. Unfined, unfiltered.

Personality: all about savory blue tones of blueberry, boysenberry, and hibiscus. Packed with electric sensations of lime, green strawberry and minerality, with a bone-dry finish and very light texture.


Chloe Carignan — Back to the top

“General thoughts on Carignan: Carignan is such an intriguing variety for us. At its best it is juicy, brambly and spicy. At its worst it is tannic, sour, and tastes like cabbage. It can also be quite difficult to grow. They are generally vigorous old vines that stand 7-8 feet tall. The vine is extremely prone to powdery mildew infection, so it needs meticulous canopy management to avoid disaster. Site selection is important for this variety to perform. It needs to be on benchland, with properly draining sandy loam soils and a hot climate. The light soils help regulate the vine’s vigor and the heat helps respire acid, which can be absolutely searing on this variety.

Vineyards: 100% Carignan sourced from Gary Venturi’s vineyard in the Calpella area of Mendocino County near Ukiah on the benchlands to the west of the valley. Gary and his dog, Kelsey, tend the vines. They were planted in the mid-1960’s. The vineyard is dry farmed and sustainable. The soils are Yokayo series sandy loam. When dry it is like walking on the moon. The vineyard is super clean due to Gary’s fastidious suckering and canopy management. I think it’s also due to being on the right soil for Carignan. It only needs 1-2 sulfur dustings per season.

Winemaking: We hand-picked the vineyard at 23 brix. Gary has a few vines of Golden Chasellas growing on the property so we asked to have them added to the pick. When the grapes arrived at the winery, we tipped half of the bins into the open top fermentor as whole clusters and we destemmed the rest. We added no SO2 and kept the tank jacket set a 72ºF. We were very gentle when handling this variety because it can be really tannic especially with such concentrated fruit. We used only light punchdowns, just wetting the cap. We did one punchdown per day until the native fermentation kicked off and then increased the punchdowns to two per day. After the mid-point of fermentation, we backed off to one or no punchdowns. Once the tank was dry, we drained it overnight and pressed the skins and intact clusters in the morning using a tank press. We aged the free drain and the press separately in 228 liter Burgundian barrels; none of them were new. We aged the wine in a cool room where they underwent native malo-lactic fermentation. We racked the barrels about a month before bottling and then back to clean barrels. We racked again a few days before bottling and the wine was limpid. This is our method of creating wines that are clean without being filtered. We bottled unfiltered and unfined.

 


Glou Glou Red — Back to the top

glouglou bottleJoel and Eric on this wine: “Pizza, burgers, wine: the Las Jaras holy trinity presents Glou Glou, the perfect wine for circle foods. Most of the grapes underwent carbonic maceration, the classic fermentation method of the Beaujolais, which means that fermentation happened inside of berries themselves, causing them to explode in happy, boozy ecstasy. That’s how you’ll feel when you drink this wine—it dances in your mouth.”

Grapes: the 2021 blend is 50% Zinfandel, 19% Carignan, 15% Petite Sirah, 6% Mourvèdre, 4% Cabernet Sauvignon, 6%  Chardonnay 

Vineyards: Gary Venturi Vineyard in Calpella, Baroni Vineyard in Redwood Valley, Eaglepoint Vineyard in Talmage, Larry Venturi Vineyard in Calpella, Tolini Vineyard in The Forks, Redwood Valley Vineyards, Dogali Vineyard in Pine Mountain, Martorana Vineyard in Dry Creek (Sonoma County), Enz Vineyard in Lime Kiln Valley (San Bonito County), Casa Santina Maria in Sonoma. All of these vineyards are organically farmed.

Winemaking: different vinification methods including carbonic maceration, traditional skin maceration, and what the guys call reverse saignée (whole cluster press of tannic red grape varieties and then adding that juice to a red wine fermentor, to increase the juice to skin ratio to make a lighter red wine). The goal is always to make a layered, cohesive blend. Most of the lots were fermented with carbonic maceration, a gentle process that helps to keep early-harvest wines from becoming too tannic. After 7-15 days, depending on the lot, the juice was pressed off its skins where it fermented natively in tank after 10ppm sulfur was added. Then, to keep the wine bright and fresh, half of the lots were aged in barrels and half were aged in stainless steel tanks. This wine received a small amount of sulfur and it was filtered prior to bottling.

Personality: “the most refreshing red wine ever, and the perfect antidote to long summer days and the heat of the grill. On the nose, it is a sea of hibiscus and raspberry with undertones of roasted coffee and wet rock. The palate is intense and fleshy with flavors of black plum and pomegranate and a long textural finish.  

Glou Glou has enough acid to stand up to your favorite tomato sauce, as well as intense berry notes that perfectly complement the char of a burger or perfectly cooked pizza crust. Serve this slightly chilled, and you will be the hero of your next backyard barbecue.”


Oregon Pinot Noir — Back to the top

Joel and Eric on this wine: “We have been making Pinot Noir from the La Belle Promenade Vineyard in Oregon since 2018. It is a unique site at high elevation on a southwestern-facing slope along the bucolic hills of the Chehalem Mountains. Although appellation rules do not allow us to label this bottle with its specific provenance (this is because we trucked the grapes from Oregon back to our winery in California), this wine is a pure expression of the La Belle Promenade Vineyard.

The 2021 vintage in Oregon was one with reduced yields and intense fruit. Since the vineyard is so far away, we rely on the experience and expertise of our dear friend Grant Coulter who manages the vineyard and makes wine for both Flaneur and his own Hundred Suns wineries. Our picking window is on the lower end of the ripening scale because we would like to achieve a wine that has tension and tautness.”

Vineyard: La Belle Promenade Vineyard, a south-west facing slope on Chehelem Mountain, Willamette Valley, OR, 820 feet above sea level. New, organic, dry-farmed vineyard with a high density of plantation. The soils are the volcanic Jory and Nekia series. This wine is made from two blocks: 1/3 is clone 115 and the other 2/3 from the Orchestra Block, planted with a random mix of clones.

Winemaking: The grapes were harvested, and then transported in Las Jaras’ vented macro bins back to Sonoma County on a semi-truck with a reefer unit set to 40F, in order to arrive at the Sebastopol winery in the best possible condition. The grapes from the Orchestra Bock were destemmed and dumped into the tank. The grapes from the clone 115 block were destemmed with 20% of the bins remaining as whole clusters. The wines fermented naturally at cool temperatures with very gentle cap movements, 14 days in total until dry. The free-run wines were transferred to new and used large format barrels. (The press wines were aged separately and added to Las Jaras Glou Glou wine – see below). The wine continued to age on its lees until one month before bottling (14 months after harvest) when it was racked clean and returned to barrels. Before bottling, it was racked once again and bottled without fining or filtration.

Personality: “As always, this wine turned out quite stunning. There is such a classic Burgundian vibe (think Beaune) from this wine that we are enamored by it. 2021 opens up with a nose of damp earth, black plum, raspberry, pine needles and hibiscus. The palate is bright in the attack with flavors of raspberry changing to red plum and wild strawberry. It is elegant and lifted with a finish showing the supplest of tannins and fresh acidity. There is a very long finish that is bright with minerality.
This is a perfect wine for sushi, grilled trout, or other lighter fare,” Joel and Eric say.


Cézanne Chenin Blanc — Back to the top

Joel and Eric on this wine: “This wine is named after Joel’s wild 5-year-old daughter Cézanne. This is definitely a wine with a personality, vexing in its depth of minerality but gives you so much pleasure as you hang onto the savory note that shakes you to your core through the finish. We are so excited that the savory white wines that Eric and Joel have lusted over for years can now be part of the Las Jaras portfolio.”

Vineyard: The grapes for this wine come from the Norgard Vineyard in Talmage which was planted in 1980 and is set up with a quadrilateral cordon system that was popular in those days. The vineyard is conventionally farmed. 

Winemaking: It seems that the most critical things to make a chenin blanc in the style that we are after is to avoid oxidation and oxidised aromas, have it complete fermentation, and have plenty of acid. Everybody says they pick the grapes at the perfect time, but to us that means picking as soon as they fruit has a hint of ripe flavor, which in this case was about 18.5 brix.  We also wanted to to keep the wine reduced enough so it does not create the “forward” aromas of wet wool or linalool. So we whole cluster pressed the grapes as soon as they got into the winery and put the wine directly into two concrete eggs and a new demi-muid for fermentation. The new wood helps add a roundness to the wine to support the mineral frame. We refrained from adding anything except a small amount of sulfur in the months near the bottling date. We did not fine or filter this wine.

This wine will continue to age very well for the next several years if kept at a consistent cool temperature. The cork we chose allows the wine to age without “breathing.”  This wine would be well served dishes like fish tacos, oysters, salads, and grilled foods. Dishes that have bright flavors and fresh textures are a perfect partner.

Personality: Comice pear and wet stones, then layer upon layer of dried white peach, apricot, white cherry, along with toasted almond and clove. Long, gorgeous finish filled with mineral, saline, and acid touches that make you salivate for more. A textural adventure for treasure hunters: roundness, minerals, and acidity, it’s all there.


Super Bloom — Back to the top

Superbloom bottleJoel and Eric on this wine: “We call this a “California Table Wine,” but don’t be fooled by the humble name. Superbloom is a complex, utterly unique wine that expresses the specialness of Love Ranch vineyard in the Sierra Foothills through a co-ferment of red and white Rhône varieties. (Usually about half to two-thirds of the latter.) It is named after the wildflowers that erupt in the desert after a wetter-than-normal rainy season. They’re a sign that winter is over and warmer, happier days are ahead. Even when spring has not yet sprung in a lot of the country, you can sip on Superbloom and dream of warm California nights.”

“In the spring of 2022, Love Ranch got hot with a bad frost, so we took the opportunity to find some new cool grapes for Superbloom! Our approach is to use organic grapes from warm areas on rocky or gravelly free-draining soils. We also added a touch of early-picked Viognier to give some acidity to the blend. We think this is our freshest-tasting Superbloom yet!”

Grapes & Vineyards:

The 2022 blend is

26% Grenache Noir, Silvaspoons, Lodi, Organic (Transitional)
9% Grenache Noir, Love Ranch, Madera County, Certified Organic
24% Verdelho, Vista Luna, Borden Ranch/ Lodi, Biodynamic/ Organic
7% Mourvèdre, Love Ranch, Madera County, Certified Organic
8% Roussane, Love Ranch, Madera County, Certified Organic
6% Carignan, Gary Venturi, Mendocino, Organic
7% Viognier, Sanford and Benedict Sta. Rita Hills, Certified Organic
7% Grenache Blanc, Love Ranch, Madera County, Certified Organic
4% Chenin Blanc, Frei Vineyard, Green Valley Solano, Organic
2% Albariño, Bokisch, Clements Hills, Lodi, Certified Organic

Most of the grapes and the original idea for this wine come from Love Ranch vineyard in Madera County, near Coarsegold. This certified-organic vineyard is situated near the southern gate of Yosemite on rolling hills at about 2,000 feet above sea level. Hot climate and free-draining granitic schist soils, an early ripening site.

Winemaking: a carbonic co-ferment wine made in several tanks, each of which with a different varietal mix. Cold carbonic macerations from 10-14 days long. After pressing, each lot fermented separately in stainless steel. They were combined once they were dry. Primary and malo-lactic fermentation were native. There have been no additions to this wine, no fining, no filter.

Personality: “Is it dark pink? Or light red? Call it a nighttime rosé, if you’d like. You know that moment right after sunset, before the stars are out in full—what poets call the “violet hour”? That’s the moment to open this wine. The red grapes give this wine a spicy nose and plenty of texture, while the white grapes add beautiful watermelon and rhubarb notes, plus a clean, mineral finish.”


Sweet Berry Red — Back to the top

Las Jaras’ flagship red wine, the one that started it all back in 2015! The label depicts Eric’s comedic partner, the cult actor John C. Reilly.

Vineyards: The grapes for this blend are grown on old vines and sourced from vineyards in Mendocino (and sometimes Sonoma) County that are organic certified, practicing or in transition. Generally, there’s Gary Venturi’s vineyard in Calpella, dry-farmed in Yokayo sandy loam soils; Riccetti vineyard in Redwood Valley; Green Valley in Solano County & more – refer to the tech sheets below for details. 

Winemaking: Generally, the fruit for this blend is hand-picked and each one of the varieties / blocks goes through its own separate, slightly different winemaking process in order to bring out the desired expression of the fruit. All are fermented spontaneously, with varying proportions of whole bunches and some carbonic maceration. The aging happens in a combination of old and new French oak – a combination of 600L demi-muids, 500L Puncheons and 228L Burgundy barrels, 225L Bordeaux barrels. One month before bottling, the different lots are racked and blended together. Bottled without fining or filtration. Refer to the tech sheets below for details on each vintage.

2018: 54% Carignan, 28% Zinfandel, 12% Charbono, 3% Cabernet Sauvignon, 3% Valdiguie

2018 Sweet Berry Wine Techsheet

A long, cool vintage, which resulted in a nuanced, refined wine that will age wonderfully. It’s perfect for long, autumn evenings with friends—grab a warm blanket, start a fire, and watch as the flames illuminate the beautiful, deep ruby wine inside your glass. As the days grow shorter and colder, you’ll find even more occasions to pop open a bottle: holiday dinners, après-ski at the lodge, New Year’s Eve. This wine is loaded with spice and bright, berry fruit, making it wonderfully versatile with food. We hope it’s a wine you’ll keep coming back to for years to come – for your health!

2019: 52% Carignan, 25% Zinfandel, 12% Charbono, 11% Petite Sirah

2019 Sweet Berry Wine Techsheet

In one word? Finesse. It was a wet spring followed by a warm, dry growing season with few extreme heat events. This resulted in a refined wine that is powerful but quite suave; it is tasting great upon release! The wine has rich aromas of dark cherry,
plum and blackberry as well as hints of cocoa nibs, allspice, and damp earth. Take a sip and you’ll find blue fruit, deep cherry, caraway, and saline earth with supple tannins and a long, savory finish.

2021: 57% Zinfandel, 25% Petite Sirah, 18% Carignan

2021 Sweet Berry Wine Techsheet

After skipping the 2020 vintage of Sweet Berry Wine due to wildfire, we are happy to finally release this iteration of our flagship red blend. It exudes incredible finesse; however, this hasn’t always been the case. This vintage required ample time to stretch its legs and evolve into the elegant and harmonious beauty that now graces the glass before you. The vintage was characterized by drought conditions, yielding a small crop of petite berries, reduced by 20% to 30%. Rainfall barely reached half of the average, subjecting the vines to a struggle in bearing fruit. Fortunately, the weather remained relatively mild after that. It took us a little longer to release the 2021 because it necessitated extended periods in both barrel and bottle to find its rhythm. The result is a wine that wields power yet exhibits refinement.

Personality: Robust aromas of cocoa powder, black plum, marionberry, forest floor, and allspice. With each sip, you’ll encounter notes of blue fruit, deep cherry, and red licorice, supported by supple tannins that lead to an enduring and savory finish.


Rosato — Back to the top

Las Jaras RosatoJoel & Eric on this wine: “We are obsessed with all things Italian: pasta, disco, cars, and wine. So of course we jumped at the opportunity to work with two iconic organically grown Italian varieties, Sangiovese and Montepulciano, back in 2019, despite the paradox that both are big grapes while we are all about restraint and nuance in wine. This is why we decided to vinify them as a rosato (the Italian term for rosé). The successive blends differ in composition but always offer the same amount of piacere (pleasure): a rich, softly textured wine that drinks more like a fine white wine than your typical pale pink, feather-light rosé. Perfect for that moment when you transition from the pool to the dinner table for a candlelit, alfresco meal.”

Grapes & Vineyards: the 2022 blend is

39% Sangiovese, Feliz Creek, Organic
15% Sangiovese, Larry Venturi, Dry Farmed, Certified Organic
17% Primitivo, Gary Venturi, Dry Farmed, Organic
15% Barbera, Gary Venturi, Dry Farmed, Organic
9% Dolcetto, Feliz Creek, Organic
5% Vermentino, Larry Venturi, Dry Farmed, Certified Organic

Gary and Larry Venturi’s vineyards are in Calpella, north of Ukiah. Feliz Creek Vineyard is in Hopland near Sonoma County’s northern border

Winemaking: Each of the vineyard blocks was harvested and vinified separately, to get them at optimum ripeness. The grapes were treaded in the bins and then tumbled in the press ten times before pressing. The Larry Venturi Sangiovese lot was treaded and added to a tank for 5 days at ambient temperature before being dug out and pressed. After settling overnight at ambient temperature, each lot was racked with light lees to a stainless-steel tank and a small 10ppm SO2 was added. Each lot was kept in the tank until native fermentation started. The tanks were racked to their fermentation and aging vessels, which were a mixture of large format barrels (500-600L) and 1200L amphora. The wines were topped up at the end of fermentation and aged until winter. The wines underwent native malolactic fermentation. Racked several times for clarity and then bottled without fining or filtration.

Personality:  “candied cherry, violets, red plum, wet stones and star anise. The palate shows raspberry, quince, and Meyer lemon, and has a long finish that gives a slight pucker and leaves you thirsty for another sip. This wine is going to be lovely all the way through winter, and if you can resist the temptation to drink it all, it will be lovely when aged for longer than a year. As they say in our favorite country in the world: Buon vino fa buon sangue! (Good wine, good health!)”


Slipper Sippers Nouveau — Back to the top

Joel & Eric on this wine: “A Nouveau is born! Nouveau is the name given to the first wine of the vintage. The style originated out of Beaujolais, just south of Burgundy where they make wines from Gamay Noir using the technique carbonic maceration. In carbonic maceration, open top tanks that have been inertized with carbon dioxide are filled with whole cluster grapes and then sealed for a number of days. Pioneering wine chemist and natural winemaker Jules Chauvet employed the technique in the mid 20st century to make light, fruity and delicious wines. This is essentially how we made this wine!” 

Grapes: 65% Zinfandel, 35% Carignan

Vineyard:

All of the grapes used for this blend are farmed organically. Harvest was very late this year and we were fortunate enough to have some wonderful grape sources in Lodi where grapes tend to ripen earlier. Cherryhouse was planted in the 40’s, Shinn vineyard in the 20’s, and the Gary Venturi vineyard was planted in the mid 50’s.

Cherryhouse: Lodi Mokelumne River, Zinfandel, 49%

Gary Venturi, Mendocino County, Zinfandel, 16%

Shinn, Lodi Mokelumne River, Carignan, 35%

Winemaking:

The pick dates for this wine were August 31, September 8th and 22nd. To make this wine we employed carbonic maceration which is a perfect method for grapes that are picked earlier with higher acidity. After 10 days of carbonic maceration at about 55F, we warmed up the tanks and gave them a daily pump over for four days to get a bit more color and a cleaner ferment. After this period we pressed the grapes lightly added 10ppm SO2 and fermented each lot separately in a warm tank. Once the wines were dry we stored them cool for a number of weeks and achieved good settling and clarity. Two days before bottling we racked the tank and added 9ppm SO2 to protect from any oxygen the wine picked up during bottling.

Personality: “The wine is mega delicious. It has a nose full of blackberry, red plum and cocoa. There are gobs of raspberry, chocolate covered cherry, and boysenberry on the juicy palate. The acidity is balanced and zippy and in the finish there is cocoa powder-like tannin that keeps the wine fresh on the palate.”


Dry Creek Valley Cabernet — Back to the top

Winemakers’ note: “Our dream, when we started Las Jaras, was to create an old-school Cabernet Sauvignon that harkened back to the Golden Age of California winemaking, the 1970s, before the era of “Big Flavor.” To achieve this, we had to find the perfect site: someplace with a low diurnal shift, where the daytime highs are warm but not scorching, and nights are reasonably warm. We found an old vineyard on Sonoma Mountain that we worked with from 2015 through 2018. This vineyard was very special and made a Cabernet that was taught and red-fruited. Sadly, that vineyard source was too low yielding to be sustainable for the grower, so in 2019, we searched for a new source. We were very fortunate to find Emmitt-Scorsone’s Vinegrove Vineyard in a protected pocket valley in Sonoma’s Dry Creek Valley. The vineyard is really special because although the region is quite warm, the vineyard is protected from getting baked by western sun exposure.”

Label Art by Sam Borkson

Grape: Cabernet Sauvignon

Vineyard: Vinegrove Vineyard, Sonoma’s Dry Creek Valley, CA. A secluded glen with gravelly Laughlin loam soil on varying aspects. The vines were originally planted about 30 years ago. Organic farming.

Making of: hand-picked the fruit on September 30, 2019, then destemmed into a 5-ton tank and a one-ton fermentor for fermentation. Warmed to encourage native fermentation and lightly punched down the must once a day, until later in the
fermentation when the punching down stopped in order to prevent over-extraction. Drained at dryness and pressed in a horizontal press. Only the free-run wine was kept for this bottling and aged in 255-liter Bordeaux barrels, four of which were new (50% of the blend), for 26 months in a cool room where the wines underwent native malo-lactic fermentation. Racked about a month before bottling and then back to clean barrels, then again a few days before bottling and the wine was limpid. Las Jaras use this method to create wines that are clean without being filtered. Bottled without fining or filtration.

Personality: “certainly the sexiest Cabernet Sauvignon we have made,” Eric and Joel say. “It has vibrant aromas of cassis, cocoa, and black cherry with subtle notes of licorice and hot rocks. On the palate, you’ll find bright and intense black cherry, blackberry, with cocoa and violets. It has a seamless midpalate with fine minerality balanced acidity and refined tannins that lead to a long finish. This beauty will only improve over the next eight years, and will drink well far beyond that.”


Charbono — Back to the top

Winemakers’ note: “In 2019, we got a cigar-shaped amphora and in 2021 we got a jar-shaped one; and the rest is history. There is a small block of old vine Charbono at the Gary Venturi Vineyard. This variety, originally from the Haute Savoie region in the French Alps, was found all over the North Coast in the mid-century until it was pulled out to make room for other varieties like Cabernet Sauvignon. It’s a late-ripening and low-acid variety that makes a wine that is big, dark and soft.

We like to experiment with it, so in 2017 we made a sans soufre carbonic version and in 2019 we made a carbonic version that was aged in an amphora for two years. We found it quite interesting to age Charbono in an oxidative vessel that was not oak. The variety soaks up oak and it tends to make a really rich, soft wine with a bit of oxidized character. But when aged in amphora, it turned out so pure and delicious. For our 2021 version of this wine, we added a high temp amphora which is not as oxidative, and a few neutral oak barrels.”

The label, created by pizza legend Joe Beddia, says Bonarda, Charbono, Douce Noir, referring to different local names of the same variety.

Grape: Charbono

Vineyard: Gary Venturi Vineyard in the Calpella area of Mendocino County, near Ukiah. Located on the benchlands to the west of the valley, farmed by Gary himself. These old vines were planted in the mid-1950s. The vineyard is dry-farmed and organic. Yokayo series sandy loam, very well drained. Due to Gary’s fastidious suckering and canopy management, this is an incredibly clean vineyard, and gets only one or two sulfur dustings per season.

Making of: hand-picked at 23 brix. Whole-bunch carbonic maceration at 52ºF. Pressed after 11 days and put into a small warm tank for fermentation with 15ppm SO2. Once the wine was dry, it was transferred to a cigar-shaped 500L terracotta amphora, a 500L jar amphora and 4 neutral barrels for aging. The wines were aged in a cool room where they underwent native malolactic fermentation. Racked about two weeks before bottling and then bottled without fining or filtration.

Personality: “2021 was a vintage with very low yields, so the wine is quite a bit richer than the ones we have made in the past. The wine is unmistakably Charbono in character. It opens up with a nose of boysenberry, bing cherry and subtle cocoa nibs. It has a mineral expression on the palate with violet, black plum and marionberry notes coming through. There is plenty of fine-grained tannin and a deep, dark richness through the finish.”


Big Beautiful Buff — Back to the top

Winemakers’ note: “Our love for saline, fresh, and mineral-laden Albariño goes deep. We jumped at the opportunity to try out some of the Spanish variety for Big Beautiful Buff, our sexy new crisp white wine. In some sense, this wine is akin to our Chenin Blanc where we pick the grapes quite early to preserve freshness and we capture mineral layers by fermenting and aging in several different vessels.”

Grape: 2022 is 100% Albarino

Vineyard: Bokisch Vineyard in Clements Hills, in the eastern foothills of Lodi. The grapes are organically grown on Redding and Yellowlark gravely loam soils. The area is quite warm and at an elevation of 138 ft and it is cooled in the evenings by the Delta Breeze.

Winemaking: the grapes were whole-cluster pressed at the Bokisch winery about 100 yards from the vineyard block (to avoid trucking them to Sebastopol in the sun). The juice was settled for 24 hours before being trucked to the winery for fermentation after a 10ppm SO2 addition. Native fermentation started about 7 days later, after a bit of heating, in a stainless-steel tank. The juice was then transferred to two 1200L sandstone jarres and two 800L neutral demi-muids. The wine underwent native malo-lactic fermentation. After four months, it was transferred to a concrete egg. After 5 months of aging, it was racked and then bottled without fining or filtration. 

Personality: “We quite like how the wine turned out because it has all of the varietal typicity that we wanted to capture. It has aromas of apple blossom, Meyer lemon, and honeydew melon. The palate is bone dry with flavors of yellow nectarine, white cherry and wet rock. The quite dense with minerality which gives the wine a long savory and mouthwatering finish. This wine is best with lighter fare and also spicy Vietnamese or Thai cuisine. Try it with laarb, bún chay or goi ga,” Joel and Eric recommend.


Santa Rita Hills Chardonnay — Back to the top

Winemakers’ note: “At long last, Las Jaras has made a Chardonnay! Our love for mineral laden and tense Chardonnay goes deep. A shocking amount of our wine research budget is spent on Chardonnay – believe it or not. This may be why we waited so long to create our ideal version. The greatest Chardonnays we’ve tasted are rich yet connected to a scaffold of nerve and tension that keep the palate firm, savory and refreshing. Our first foray into a wine made with this iconic grape features a nose of crushed rock, lemon curd and sea air.”

Label design by Alex Goose. 

Grape: Chardonnay

Vineyard: “The organically grown grapes for this wine come from four blocks of Spear Vineyard that was planted in the late-2000s. This vineyard is located on Hwy 246 on the northeastern end of Mt Carmel and is actually on the opposite side of where Sea Smoke sits. This part of the world is so incredibly gorgeous. It is quite cold here, which gives us a lot of hang time to develop intense flavors. The vineyard faces north-east and is on the sandiest of soils; which require irrigation. The vineyard’s aspect allows for a bright and mineral laden wine.”

Making of: Grapes are hand picked as soon as they show a hint of ripe flavor, at around 19-20 brix. Whole-cluster pressed upon arrival at the winery to avoid skin contact. Pressed to a stainless-steel tank, with 10ppm SO2. Settled at cellar temp for 24 hours. Hard press wine is kept separate and not added back. The juice is then racked with the light lees to another tank, where it undergoes spontaneous fermentation. Fermenting juice is transferred to a mix of new and used Stockinger 600L demi muids and one used 800L barrel from Schneckenleitner. After nearly a year in barrel, the wine is transferred to stainless steel tanks for six additional months of aging. Unfined, unfiltered. 

Personality: “The palate is a delightful combination of comice pear, mineral, flint, yellow peach, and spice that finishes with a long and firm flourish with a sumptuous texture. DELICIOUS! We like to pair this wine with bright and savory foods like petrale sole meunière, chicken with harissa and lemon tahini, or tacos with spicy pico de gallo.” Great aging potential for the next several years if kept at a consistent cool temperature.


Waves Botanical Spritzer— Back to the top

In early 2021, Joel, Eric and their wives went to the Mendocino coast for a couple of days to rest, recharge, and find new inspiration. Prior to this trip, Eric had been saying that a WAVES spritzer would be perfect in his golf bag, but Joel was not sure it could be done while keeping the classy vibe and high quality expected from the brand. During this trip, inspiration struck and they figured out a flavor profile they could trial. Joel, Jen Stark and Eric spent the next 18 months trialing blends and the packaging until it was perfect. This project took a long time to bring together, but they are ecstatic about the results.

Grapes and Botanicals: Gruner Veltliner 75%, Albariño 15%, Chenin Blanc 10% + Angelica Root, Juniper, Rose Buds, Green Cardamom, Grapefruit Peel, Rosemary, Coriander, Douglas Fir Needles, Anise, Star Anise, Lemongrass (all organic)

Vineyard: Rava Vineyard Monterey County (Gruner), Bokisch Vineyard Clements Hills Lodi (Albariño), Frei Vineyard Solano County Green Valley (Chenin Blanc). All Organic

Making of: The Gruner Veltliner is from the 2021 vintage, while the Albariño and Chenin Blanc were from 2022. All vineyards were hand-picked and whole-cluster pressed, with no skin contact. The juice was separated into light- and hard-press fractions which each saw a 10ppm sulfur addition. After settling for a day, racked by fractions to a new tank for fermentation and vinified separately. The wines started fermenting naturally after about seven days in stainless steel vessels. Aged on their lees, then racked and blended. The wine was macerated with its botanical mix for a period before being filtered, diluted and then spritzed up. Filtered prior to canning.

Personality: “aromas of grapefruit, juniper, cardamom, clove, yellow peach and white cherry. The palate shows white cherry and apricot, juniper, air of the forest, and grapefruit, with subtle notes of brown spice. There is a robust sparkle and racy acidity and a long finish of grapefruit. We think of this spritzer as being similar to a Campari with soda and would be perfect over ice or straight out of the can.”


Waves White — Back to the top

Eric and Joel on this wine: “To the beach, to the pool, to the mountain, or riding a bike, wine usually reserved for bottles can be a roadie, too.  The can is a perfect lightweight, single-serving vessel, and our goal is to make a canned wine that is bursting with personality and deliciousness, and hypnotic art by Jen Stark.”

The blend changes year to year, but the idea of breezy deliciousness remains – in 2021, “Grüner Veltliner takes us to that happy place with a light fruitiness. The flavors of this variety on its own are round and show melon with notes of lychee. By adding the Chenin Blanc and old vine Chardonnay, we were able to give the wine more definition and minerality on the palate.”

Grapes & Vineyards 2021: 

50% Grüner Veltliner from Rava Vineyard, Monterey County, Organic
30% Chenin Blanc, Frei Vineyard, Solano Green Valley, Organic
20% Chardonnay (Old Wente clone), Redwood Valley Vineyards, Redwood Valley, Organic

Making of: All vineyards were hand-picked and whole-cluster-pressed, with no skin contact. The grapes were vinified separately: juice was separated into light and hard press fractions which each saw a 10ppm sulfur addition. After settling for a day, the wines were racked to tanks where they started fermenting naturally, after about seven days the Chenin and Chardonnay were transferred to a number of non-stainless steel vessels: large format oak, concrete eggs and sandstone amphora. The Grüner was fermented and aged in stainless steel. The individual wines remained on their lees for five months and were then racked and blended a couple of weeks before canning. No fining, but the wine was filtered “because when you are drinking wine out of a can, you want that last sip to be as good as the first,” Joel explains.

Personality: “Aromas of pippin apple, honeydew melon, and grapefruit along with hints of wet stone. The palate shows melon, grapefruit, and a gentle sparkle and racy acidity. We think of this wine as being like that soft drink Squirt that we enjoyed on hot summer days as kids,” the guys say.

Grapes & Vineyards 2022: 

90% Chenin Blanc, Frei, Solano Green Valley, Organic

10% Albariño, Bokisch, Lodi, Organic

Making of: “The 2022 growing seasons started pretty perfectly, with great weather and no heat spikes. All of that changed later in the season, but these grapes in this wine were picked long before that happened,” the guys say, adding that Albariño came in August 19th while Chenin Blanc came in August 25th. Grapes from both vineyards were hand-picked and whole cluster pressed without skin contact. The juice was split into light and hard press fractions, each of which were topped up with 10 ppm SO2 and left to settle for 24 hours. Each fraction was then racked to a new tank for fermentation and vinified separately. After a week, the wines began fermenting naturally, and each variety was then moved individually to stainless steel vessels for further fermentation. Each variety was aged on light lees for eight months, then racked and blended a few weeks before canning. The wine was not fined, but it was filtered — “because when you are drinking wine out of a can, you want that last sip to be as good as the first,” they explain.

Personality: “Aromas of pippin apple, honeydew melon, and grapefruit along with hints of wet stone. The palate shows melon, grapefruit, and a gentle sparkle and racy acidity. We think of this wine as being like that soft drink Squirt that we enjoyed on hot summer days as kids,” the guys say.


Waves Rosé — Back to the top

Winemakers’ note: “Our ideal rosé for a can was light and zippy with big fruit, and this combination of varieties gives us that with a powerhouse of freshness. The gentle sparkle really makes this a fun wine to enjoy straight out of the can alongside a beach read or a picnic spread.” 

Grapes & Vineyards in 2021:

43% Zinfandel, Gary Venturi Vineyard, Mendocino, practicing organic

40% Carignan, Gary Venturi Vineyard, Mendocino, and Frei Vineyard, Solano Green County, both practicing organic

9% Viognier, Sanford and Benedict, Santa Rita Hills, Certified Organic

8% Petite Sirah, Gary Venturi Vineyard, Mendocino, practicing organic

Making of: All varieties were direct-pressed and settled separately, and then combined for fermentation. Fermented naturally and once finished, the blend was cold-stored in tanks without sulfur. Unfined but filtered, 20ppm of sulfur added prior to canning.

Personality: Aromas of pomegranate, red plum and white cherry along with hints of stone. The palate shows raspberry, gooseberry and white cherry in abundance, bright acidity and a light sparkle and a bit of texture in the finish.

Grapes & Vineyards in 2022: 

55% Zinfandel, Cherryblock, Lodi, and Gary Venturi, Mendocino, both practicing organic

38% Carignan, Shin Old Vines, Lodi, and Gary Venturi, Mendocino, both practicing organic 

4% Barbera, Campo Vida, Mendocino, practicing organic

3% Viognier, Sanford and Benedict, Santa Rita Hills, Certified Organic 

Making of: The Lodi fruit (Zinfandel and Carignan) was harvested ahead of a heat wave and then passed through a must pump in the cellar to  extract a bit of color and red fruit character. It was lightly pressed and left to settle for 24 hours, before adding 10ppm SO2 to suppress acetobactor and lactic acid bacteria. The Mendocino fruit (Zinfandel, Carignan, and Barbera) was harvested after the heat wave and saw no skin contact; 40 ppm SO2 was added before fermentation. Both wines were sent to stainless steel tanks for fermentation, and saw no additional sulfur. Unfined, filtered. 

Personality: A powerhouse of freshness with aromas of pomegranate and red plum along with hints of stone. The palate expresses raspberry, gooseberry, and white cherry in abundance with bright acidity and a bolster of texture in the finish.


Waves Red — Back to the top

Eric and Joel on this wine: “It was a really fun challenge to make a red wine that is perfect for a can. Our goal was to make a feather-weight red that is satisfying and perfect to drink ice cold. A little sparkle makes it super lively on the palate.”

Grapes & Vineyards in 2021:

29% Zinfandel from Gary Venturi, Glass House, Eaglepoint Vineyards, all Mendocino, practicing organic
24% Grenache from Eaglepoint, Mendocino, practicing organic
20% Valdiguié from Frei, Green Valley Solano and Anselmo, Suisun Valley, practicing organic
19% Carignan from Frei, Green Valley Solano and Gary Venturi , Mendocino, practicing organic
8% Counoise from Eaglepoint, Mendocino, practicing organic

Making of: “2021 was a drought year where red grapes had very small berries; this made it challenging to make a light red wine. We used the classic Jules Chauvet version of the carbonic maceration method where the tank is drained of juice daily for most of the lots in this wine – there is really no juice contact with the skins or the stems and the resulting wine is a pure carbonic maceration. This style creates a light wine that doesn’t show the green notes you would otherwise taste. 10ppm SO2 was added after digging out and pressing the tanks and an additional 10ppm was added three weeks before bottling. 25% of this blend was aged in oak, creating a nice balance of warm tones and crunchy fruit,” Joel explains.

Personality: black plum, earth, dark cherry and violets. The palate has an unctuous middle full of black plum, cherry, and cocoa powder. There is only the slightest hint of mouth coating tannin and a long dry finish.

Grapes & Vineyards in 2022: 

69% Merlot, Redwood Valley Vineyards, Mendocino, Organic

14% Zinfandel, Gary Venturi, Mendocino, Organic

13% Carignan, Frei, Solano Green Valley, Organic

4% Chenin Blanc, Frei, Solano Green Valley, and Gary Venturi, Mendocino, both Organic 

Making of: “For this wine, we have been trying to capture a deep flavor of black plum but with light weight. To accomplish this, we co-fermented Merlot and Zinfandel; but not in the way you are thinking! We actually pumped Zinfandel juice into a tank of Merlot skins. We call this method ‘reverse saignée.’ It has a lot of advantages over carbonic maceration — most notably a cleaner fermentation that results in a lighter wine that has a ton of the fruit character we love. We did have to fine this wine a little bit making it the only wine we have ever fined. We chose a new type of fining agent that is vegan, made from potato protein and chitosan (aspergillus niger derived) to remove a bit of persistent sticky tannin from the finish. Typically, wineries will use egg whites or gelatin to remove this type of tannin. This wine has been filtered,” Joel says. 

Personality: black plum, earth, dark cherry and violets. The palate has an unctuous middle full of black plum, cherry, and cocoa powder. There is only the slightest hint of mouth coating tannin and a long dry finish. Drink chilled!