He's a Napa specialist with a casual, coastal side
- Jim Duane has been in the Napa wine game for quite some time making Cabernets for regional institutions, like Robert Mondavi and Stag’s Leap Wine Cellars.
- While he cut his teeth crafting $100+ wines in Napa, Jim’s thirsty to make top-quality wines his friends can afford. Winemakers can get incredible value harvesting grapes around California’s coast — so that’s where he’ll be based for you — in the vineyards of Monterey, Paso Robles and Santa Barbara!
- With your support, Jim’s set to bring you coastal classics including Grenache, Pinot Noir and Rosé — all made with Jim’s Napa finesse. As a loyal Angel himself, he can deliver world-class wines perfectly built to your taste and budget!
Jim Duane's Story
Jim Duane grew up in Salt Lake City, Utah — a place where it was easier to make beer under the stairs than jump through the hoops in place to keep him from buying it. He described brewing as a “gateway to winemaking,” with those initial experiments in fermentation leading him to UC Davis, where he solidified his passion for enology.
“While my early winemaking efforts (bathtub wine) were not anything I’d care to share over dinner, those formative years reinforced my love for the mix of art and science that is winemaking, carrying me through my winemaking path and experiences in Washington, New Zealand, and California.”
Travelling Winemaking, Living the Dream
Jim has worked at least one harvest a year since signing-off on his 1996 Bathtub Blend. Early in his career, he made sparkling wines at Brancott Vineyards in New Zealand, “home to the first ever Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc,” and Riesling at Arbor Crest Wine Cellars, who source grapes from some of the most premium sub-regions in Washington’s Columbia Valley. While he was invigorated by the challenges of his wine wanderlust, seeking new grape varieties and grape-growing regions, Jim was ready to climb the ladder to winemaker. He moved to California to set roots in Napa Valley, and he has spent every harvest since learning the region inside-and-out.
“Winemaking is what I think about almost all the time: it’s the perfect job to blend my love of plants and my drive to create something that reflects nature, hard work, science, beauty, and craftsmanship.”
In Napa, he worked with the famed Robert Mondavi Winery and the historic Stag’s Leap Wine Cellars — in both instances, crafting big, crowd-pleasing Cabernet Sauvignons that put Napa on the map. He worked with many different vineyard sites, and honed his winemaking skills to be able to translate these differences in the bottle.
“It’s a paradox to continually improve my skills such that the people who drink my wine have the opportunity to taste the unique qualities of the vineyard rather than my work to craft the wines, but I take that as a point of pride.”
As he worked his way up, eventually becoming winemaker at Seavey Vineyard in 2011, he became an expert at crafting red wines that dance on the fine line between the youthful charm and power that scream Napa and the adolescent austerity and beautiful ageability that cries Bordeaux! As he gained more and more experience, he saw his approach to winemaking becoming more narrow — he was becoming “the Cab Guy.” Yet at home, he and his wife found their own tastes and preferences broadening.
“While I am certainly inclined to gravitate towards rich and structured Cabernet Sauvignon and Bordelais varietals (I live and work in Napa, after all), I crave a counterpart to those varieties via grapes that embody a sense of balance, elegance, and immediate drinkability. I have found myself craving and drinking more Grenache and Pinot noir because I enjoy their fruit, their spice, and their lightness of tannin.”
Fermenting Outside of the Box
It was during a vacation to Monterey — while Jim and his wife were sipping Monterey Rosé, watching their children ogle at sea creatures down the coast from the aquarium — that an idea hit him. If he found himself drinking and thinking about Pinots, rosés, and aromatic whites from regions that he looked forward to visiting on his days away from making Cabernet, why not make those wines? He began reaching out to friends he’d made during his winemaking career, and assembled a line-up of wines from Monterey and Paso Robles that he was genuinely excited to make and drink.
“I joined Naked to fulfill a lifelong dream of making my own wine. I've been an Angel for 3 years and I'm thrilled to also now be a winemaker.”
Thanks to Naked’s unique crowd-funding model, Jim was able to move quickly — seeking out the perfect vineyards and securing grapes — and bring his dream wines into reality. To say thank you, Jim’s giving you access to incredible wines from California’s best cool climate regions (read: vacation spots). A winemaker that wants to make wine on his vacation from winemaking?! Angels, you’re really funding a passion here.
Besides wine, I'm a passionate wanna be foodie! I love to cook and experiment in the kitchen- of course with a glass of NW to keep my company. I love all of NW wines especially anything from Stefano di Blasi, Dave Harvey, Rabbitt and Spaghetti, the Michauds, Katy Birmingham, Stephen Millier.. the list is endless! From the great PNW with love, LaDonna ALWAYS needs more wine!