Wine starts in the vineyard. Being passionate about our wines, we meticulously locate the best Pinot Noir and Zinfandel vineyards available. We know only superb vineyard sources allow us to produce the kind of wines we wants to drink and share with the world. Years of experience have led to the careful selection of these vineyards.
• Campbell Ranch
• Charles Vineyard
• Leras Family Vineyards
• Mukaida - Peters Vineyard
• Nunes Vineyard
• Peters Vineyard
When asked what style of wine we make, the response is always ‘great wines’. After we’ve all laughed, the real answer emerges. After almost 30 years of winemaking, we still firmly believe in a minimalist approach—allowing the wine to express itself and reflect the growing season through the nuances that appear from vintage to vintage. For this to happen and to produce those ‘great wines’, it is vital to pay attention to every detail; carefully attending to every step of the winemaking process, yet always with a light hand. We don’t over-extract or over-oak our wines. We give the wines the fermentation and aging environments that allow them to become exceptional—so we can smell and taste what the fruit has to offer us.
Consistency is another element to our style. We cold-soak all the grapes for two to four days before fermenting, use the same cultured yeast and same type of François Frères barrels for 11-12 months of oak aging for our Pinot Noirs and 12-17 months for our Zinfandels. Our vineyard and clonal designates are all kept separate throughout the winemaking and aging process. Midway through the aging process (usually around Spring) we taste through the barrels and blend the wines together to make the vineyard and Clonal designate wines. Our winemaking team tastes through the wine in the barrels in order to determine which blend of clones and or vineyards allows the best flavors and nuances to show through. What varies from year to year is how the growing season affects the flavor profile of the grapes. Our goal is to let the grapes speak through the finished wine. Those vintage differences are a piece of the charm in both winemaking and wine drinking.
A complex man with simple pleasures, high standards and soulful values. Wine has always been a part of Ben's life. A native San Franciscan of Italian descent, Ben grew up with wine as part of every family meal and gathering. His grandpa made his own red wine blend in the basement, where Ben listened and learned. Ben's heritage and love for wine always beckoned. The passion caught fire in his early twenties as he explored wines from around the world—Bordeaux and an occasional high-end California Cabernet. But the wines that really turned Ben’s head were Burgundies from 1956 and '57. Seduced by those captivating aromas and elegant nuances, Ben volunteered to work during harvest at a friend's Sonoma County winery specializing in Pinot Noir. There he honed his craft and never looked back. During his 37-year career with the San Francisco Newspaper Agency, Ben met future partner Bruce Perry. Through their common passions—cooking and wine—they became fast friends.
Today, the Papapietro Perry cellar is simply a more elaborate version of Ben’s garage where he started making wine more than 25 years ago. "Authentic, not pretentious," says Ben. "Confident, but not too serious. Humble. The winery is an extension of my home and personal hospitality." Maybe that is why one corner of the cellar is dedicated to a makeshift kitchen where family favorites are prepared for the staff, and the occasional lucky friend who drops by at lunchtime. In Ben's words, "cooking and wine are indistinguishable." He simply cannot imagine one without the other.When Ben isn't in the cellar or the kitchen, he and his wife Yolanda like to travel and pour Papapietro Perry wines wherever they land. Yolanda joined the family business in 2009 handling distributor relations and enjoys pouring with Ben at events. When they're not traveling, Ben and Yolanda enjoy spending time with their two grandsons.
JAY SOMERS - OWNER/WINEMAKER, J. CHRISTOPHER WINES
In 2010, we cemented our bond with the Old World by forming a partnership with famed German winemaker Ernst Loosen. Erni and Jay have a longtime friendship based partly on the fact that they are both Pinot freaks. Working together to produce Pinot Noirs that combined Old World and New World ideas just seemed like a natural. Together, they purchased a beautiful 40-acre property on Chehalem Mountain in Newberg, Oregon. This is the home of the new J. Christopher winery, and the Appassionata vineyard, our first estate vineyard.
ABOUT JAY SOMERS:
Jay Christopher Somers wanted to be a rock star. One of his earliest memories was the day his mother came home with the new Creedence Clearwater Revival album, Cosmos Factory. As the 4-year-old Jay listened over and over to John Fogarty's wailing guitar solo in "Heard it Through the Grapevine," he knew that's what he wanted to do. And yet, rooted somewhere in that song, another message planted itself in his subconscious. Something about grapevines.
Jay eventually did get a guitar — today he has quite a collection — and learned to play with great skill. In terms of careers, however, he did what any college grad with a degree in philosophy would do: he made beer. After several years as a brewer for McMenamins, he met a beautiful woman named Ronda. Ronda liked Jay, but didn't care for beer. Making two of the best decisions of his life, Jay married Ronda and got out of the beer business, deciding to focus, instead, on his latest passion: wine. In the years leading up to the launch of his own winery, Jay had the great fortune to work with Don Kautzner at Adelsheim Vineyard in Oregon, Neil McCallum at Dry Creek Vineyard in New Zealand, and John Paul at Cameron Winery in Oregon. From Don, he learned that it was possible to make Burgundian-style Pinots in Oregon. Through Neil, he gained a passion for white wines. And in John, he found a lifelong friend and mentor.
In his five years at Cameron, Jay adopted an Old World style of vineyard management and winemaking — a style that resulted in wines that tasted more like the Burgundies he loved to drink. With John's encouragement, he bottled his first J. Christopher vintage in 1996, using the Cameron facility and fruit purchased from the neighboring Charlie's vineyard. (Side note: Jay is the first and only winemaker ever to make wine from this excellent vineyard.) His first vintage, like many to follow, sold out in less than a week.
After Jay's third vintage of J. Christopher, his mentor gently and encouragingly nudged the fledgling from the nest. Jay spent the next 11 years making J. Christopher alongside Holloran Vineyard Wines at the Holloran facility in the Willamette Valley. Here, he continued to develop his Burgundian winemaking style: "Don't force the vineyard, don't irrigate the crap out of it, don't spray a bunch of chemicals on it, and do all the hand labor right."
In 2004, an opportunity arose to help the shorthanded crew at the Dr. Loosen winery in Germany's Mosel Valley. A big fan of German Rieslings, Jay pounced on it. Over many bottles of wine after long days of work, he and winemaker Ernst Loosen discovered that they had a mutual taste and passion for Pinot Noir. Erni had long dreamed of owning vineyards in Burgundy, but, turned off by the price, had begun thinking about the second best place in the world to grow Pinot Noir: Oregon. Over many more bottles, the two hatched a plan, and soon began making a collaborative Oregon Pinot called Appassionata. In 2010, they formalized their partnership, bought a 40-acre property on Chehalem Mountain in Newberg, Oregon, and began building a new J. Christopher winery. Jay continues as the winemaker for the partnership, while Erni provides Old World expertise and financial support.
Today, in addition to making wine, Jay plays lead guitar for the Portland band Reduction. Fans of both his music and his wines tell him he's a rock star. So all in all, he feels, things have turned out very well.
ABOUT OUR WINES:
At J. Christopher, we produce handcrafted wines sourced from some of the best vineyards in Oregon's Northern Willamette Valley. We follow biodynamic principles and specialize in Pinot Noir made using the traditional methods of Burgundy. We are one of the few wineries in Oregon to produce Sauvignon Blanc, modeled after the great wines of Sancerre.
Our philosophy is to produce wines in an Old World style that emphasizes focus, length, and balance. As winemaker Jay Somers puts it, "We do not make fruit bombs. We want wines that have a fine balance of fruit, acidity and texture. We want wines that give you more than just a big mid-palate blast — wines that are complete."
The key to this, Jay firmly believes, is patient winemaking — it is vital not to rush things and allow the wines to develop naturally. For example, we would never use cultured yeasts to induce malolactic fermentation in our Pinot Noir. This is a New World technique done to facilitate earlier bottling, but we feel it is damaging to the wine's texture and balance. We want the wines to evolve at their own pace, with a minimum of intervention.
Place matters. Our Pinot Noir is made to reflect where it comes from. Our range of Pinot Noir showcases the diversity of the valley's soils, micro-climates and distinct terroir. Our flagship Willamette Valley Pinot Noir is approachable, yet complex; a perfect window into what makes this part of Oregon so special. Our Terroir Series Pinot Noir highlight three individual AVAs within the valley, focusing on the distinct qualities that each area's soils and micro climate bring to the wine. Our Single Vineyard Pinot Noir are bottled to reflect the complete and singular qualities of some of the finest vineyards in the Willamette Valley.
Sauvignon Blanc, although not widely planted in the Willamette Valley, is ideally suited to the same climate as Pinot Noir. Winemaker Jay Somers likes to remind you that while Sancerre is known for some of the finest Sauvignon Blancs, Pinot Noir is also grown there.
We offer a few different takes on this noble white grape. Our Willamette Valley Sauvignon Blanc is more delicate and focused, with a bright, refreshing finish, while our bottling of the Croft Vineyard showcases the intensity and richness of the this unique vineyard with a softer texture.
Chardonnay is the natural companion to Pinot Noir. Like Pinot Noir, Chardonnay beautifully reveals the soils and climate of the place it is grown. We produce a pure, unadorned Chardonnay, bottled without oak or malolactic fermentation. This stainless steel fermented Chardonnay is a classic cool climate expression of the variety.
We offer a dry rose made for easy-drinking, and pure enjoyment. Our pink wine is a blend of Grenache and Syrah, sourced from vineyards on the Oregon side of the Columbia River Gorge.