ABOUT THREE STICKS WINES:
Three Sticks Wines is a boutique, family-owned winery founded by Bill Price (William S. Price III). Founded in 2002, the winery is named for Bill’s surfing nickname, “Billy Three Sticks,” which was assigned to him in his youth as a reference to the three Roman numerals that follow his name. As a long-time fan and collector of wines from the Durell Vineyard, Price purchased the property from Ed Durell in 1998, and launched Three Sticks a few years later.
In 2015, Bob Cabral, former winemaker for Williams Selyem, and Ryan Prichard, former assistant winemaker for Medlock Ames, joined the Three Sticks Team. Don Van Staaveren, who had been with Three Sticks since 2004, remains as Winemaker Emeritus. Cabral and Prichard will be focusing on the Pinot Noir and Chardonnay production, while Van Staaveren will continue to focus on the Cabernets.
The winery is housed in an industrial area near downtown Sonoma, among a cluster of other artisan wine producers known as the Eighth Street Wineries. In keeping with the winery’s “no crush” policy, every lot of grapes to come in is treated with utmost care and minimal handling. The winemaking team insists on keeping every vineyard block separate from the others from the moment they are picked on through fermentation, barrel aging and final blending.
In 2014, Three Sticks opened a tasting salon in downtown Sonoma: The Adobe (a.k.a. the VallejoCasteñada Adobe, #theadobe). Built circa 1842 and located just off the plaza in downtown Sonoma, the Vallejo-Casteñada Adobe was one of Sonoma’s oldest and longest occupied residences and remains one of the last standing buildings from California’s Mexican Period. It’s transformation into the Three Sticks tasting salon was directed by noted San Francisco designer Ken Fulk.
There is very good reason Bob Cabral’s name is synonymous with great Pinot Noir. With decades of experience in Sonoma County, Bob’s passion, experience and following for his work with the varietal is second to none. From 1998 to 2014 Bob was winemaker for Williams Selyem. There, he led the winery into a new era, overseeing an expansion of new vineyard sources and bottlings for the brand, along with the construction of a state-of the art winery.
Bob’s interest in wine and farming began in childhood helping his grandfather make wine in a barn. Growing up pruning grapes, irrigating vineyards and harvesting grapes became routine on his family’s 70-acre ranch near Escalon, CA. A fourth generation farmer and grape grower from the great San Joaquin Valley, he took all he learned at the family farm and applied it to his degrees at Fresno State University. While in college, his passion for Pinot Noir became evident as he spent every spare dime, and a good chunk of his student loans, on buying wines from all over the world—mostly Burgundy and Russian River Valley Pinot Noirs.
After graduating in the mid-1980s, Bob knew that Sonoma County was where he could best hone his skills and make wines to rival the best in the world. He spent 11 vintages in various winemaking positions—associate winemaker at DeLoach Vineyards, custom crush winemaker at Kunde Family Estate, winemaker at Alderbrook Vineyards and winemaker at Hartford Court Winery—before taking his seminal position at Williams Selyem.
Bob’s winemaking philosophy has remained constant throughout his career—to source and farm the best fruit possible, with minimal intervention in the cellar. He was awarded the 2011 Wine Star Award from the Wine Enthusiast as “Winemaker of the Year.” He joined Three Sticks in 2015, with fervent enthusiasm. Bob lives in the Russian River Valley where and is a devoted husband and father to his wife and daughter.
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.