He's worked with American giants like Mondavi - and French masters like Domaine Louis Jadot
Sonoma winemaker Jonathan Pey spent his early teen years in France - and it’s impressed upon him a desire to craft wines that unite Old World wine flair with ”why not?!” American attitude.
He’s topped Wall Street Journal’s wine lists, impressed critics like Robert Parker, and auctioned off precious coveted bottles at Premiere Napa Valley, but he’s most excited to make wines with Angels. Why?
In early 2020, Angels supported Jonathan through the COVID Relief Fund, so he could keep his independent operation running for harvest. You loved his Spicerack wines so much, we asked him to share more. He’s up for the challenge - and you’re guaranteed delicious rewards.
Winemaker Jonathan Pey has the character and verve of a Frenchman, but his backstory began in New Jersey. His French connection has roots, as Jonathan moved to France from the Garden State as a teen (“that’s where I saw wine bottles on dinner tables for the first time,” he said with a gleam).
He took his early love of French wine dinners to heart and pursued a Bachelor of Science Degree in Agriculture and hit the ground running as a winemaker, crafting French, Californian, and Australian wines.
“I got to work with French wine luminaries at esteemed Maison Louis Jadot (Burgundy), Penfolds Winemaker Peter Gago (Australia), and even with Mr. Robert Mondavi himself.”
After going back to school for an MBA, Jonathan and his late wife Susan took an exciting wine plunge and started making their own wines in frigid western Marin County – a neighboring region of San Francisco.
This was back in 1999. “At the time, our friends thought we were nuts. But now over 20 winemakers get grapes from West Marin. Just sayin'...” he said.
That first year, Jonathan bought 5 tons of Merlot. Now, he has 21 vintages under his belt - and considers it a privilege to learn something new about himself as a winemaker and his passion for wine every harvest day.
“I still get nervous at each harvest; yes the potential for greatness exists, but also the potential to really screw up! Keeps me humble and open-minded.”
Soon, his and Susan’s business grew into Textbook - a brand that saw soaring national success with Jonathan at the helm.
“The first time attending Premiere Napa Valley with my late wife Susan and our Textbook Oakville Cabernet, we kept looking at each other mouthing silently "Can you believe we are HERE?!"
Jonathan has carried his success gracefully, and with each new project, looks to unite his Old World flair with a ”why not?!” American attitude. “I try to make every blend bold but balanced, with exotic aromas and lovely texture... and that elusive thing called nuance,” he said.
In early 2020, Jonathan was selected from hundreds of winemakers as a recipient of Naked’s COVID Relief Fund. Angels took on a back vintage of his Spicerack wines to give him extra support and funding to ensure he could commit to wine and grape contracts for the 2020 harvest.
Now, he’s back - thanks to resounding Angel reviews! - Jonathan’s sharing two of his favorite wines with Angels to start - a rich Chardonnay and Zinfandel - from that ever-popular label, Spicerack. With your funding fueling his wild winemaker dreams - anything could be next.
Jonathan has seen great success as an independent winemaker all of these years, and acclaim from the top critics in the land - but it’s asked him to focus so much more than great wine.
“From vineyards to cellars, to sales to websites to winemaker dinners - it's nuts sometimes,” Jonathan said.
“Your funding - the Angels’ funding - it not only allows but encourages winemakers to go that extra mile; to avoid making the ordinary and striving for the EXTRAordinary. I remain very grateful. Thank you.”
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