The J. Christopher story begins with two winemakers: one from the Old World and one from the New World.
Ernst "Erni" Loosen, the famed Riesling producer behind Germany’s Dr. Loosen and Villa Wolf wineries, has a lifelong passion for Pinot Noir. With many friends and a wine import business in Oregon, Erni recognized early on that there was something very special going on here in Oregon’s Willamette Valley, and he wanted to be a part of it.
Oregon winemaker Jay Somers was making small production Willamette Valley Pinot under the name J. Christopher when Erni met him. Erni was immediately impressed; here, he thought, was a New World wine made in the Old World style, with great structure and expression of terroir. The two soon began collaborating on a high end Pinot that they named Appassionata. A few vintages later, Erni cemented his investment in Oregon by purchasing 40 acres on Chehalem Mountain in Newberg, planting the Appassionata Vineyard, and building the winery where Appassionata and the J. Christopher wines are produced today.
Today, Jay Somers has moved on to produce wine under his JC Somers label. Timothy Malone, who was Jay's right hand man for several years, is now the head winemaker. He employs a patient, unhurried approach in the cellar to produce wines in an Old World style that emphasizes focus, length, and balance.
Top 100 American Wineries of the Year by Wine & Spirits
2019, 2017, 2013
Wine Advocate 2012
"Following international internships and five years with John Paul at Cameron, reflective and experimental-minded Jay Somers founded J. Christopher wines in 1996 with conviction in the principles of biodynamic farming and what he calls “Old World” stylistic sensibility. Meeting a deep-pocketed, multi-talented soul mate and commercial partner in Ernst Loosen of the eponymous Mosel estate, Somers now finds himself in the enviable position of presiding over a newly-constructed and superbly-equipped winery surrounded by a newly-planted former pasture dubbed Appassionata Vineyard (mixed volcanic and sedimentary) whose aspect and proximity to some of Newberg’s best sites (including David Adelsheim’s founding vineyard, not to mention the cluster a mile west on Calkins Lane) can’t help but fire even a jaded wine lover’s imagination; and the wines – given their vibrant style and on the whole extremely reasonable prices – can’t help but stimulate an appetite of more than one sort. Among many unique aspects of J. Christopher is a passion and ambition for Sauvignon Blanc, which Somers and Loosen have backed-up by planting three acres of their home vineyard’s 20 acres with that cepage, the rest being Pinot Noir including – unsurprisingly, given Loosen’s international experience and Somers’ at Cameron – highly, dare I say “colorfully,” diverse vine material including heirloom selections of both Californian and Oregonian origin. Pinot is destemmed – though future deviations from that norm are envisioned – and ferments spontaneously 'which at our ambient temperatures,' notes Somers, 'can take anywhere from 5-10 days.' Extraction is solely via punch-downs and the wine is pressed within a couple of days of reaching dryness; then minimally settled before going to barrel, 25% new. In the newly-dug and exceedingly cold caves, malo is taking place on a Burgundian schedule; in fact, had only recently started when I visited in early June."