J. Christopher

Jay & Ronda Somers, Owners

Country of Origin: USA
Location: Chehalem Mountains, Willamette Valley
People: Jay Somers & Ronda Newell, Owners | Jay Somers, Winemaker
Viticulture: Practicing Organic


J. Christopher 2017 Sauvignon Blanc, Willamette Valley Login WS 89 AG 90 <1 Case
J. Christopher 2018 Sauvignon Blanc, Willamette Valley Login WS 90 In Stock
J. Christopher 2015 'Basalte' Pinot Noir, Chehalem Mountains Login WS 91 WA 89 <1 Case
J. Christopher 2016 'Basalte' Pinot Noir, Chehalem Mountains Login AG 91 WS 91 In Stock
J. Christopher 2017 'J.J' Pinot Noir, Willamette Valley Login In Stock
J. Christopher 2016 'Lumiere' Pinot Noir, Eola-Amity Hills Login WS 94 AG 92 In Stock
J. Christopher 2016 'Volcanique' Pinot Noir, Dundee Hills Login WS 91 AG 90 In Stock

Media Links
Grape Collective: Jay Somers of J. Christopher
The New York Times: 12 Everyday Bottles for Wine Lovers
Wine Spectator: The World's Largest Category of Fine Wines? They're UTR
Los Angeles Times: Wine Review - J. Christopher Willamette Valley Pinot Noir

Social Media

J. Christopher Facebook

Jay Christopher Somers wanted to be a rock star. 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 grape vines.

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. Jay 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.)

In 2010, Jay Somers cemented his bond with the Old World by forming a partnership with famed German winemaker Ernst Loosen. Ernie and Jay’s friendship formed over a strong passion for Pinot Noir. Working together to produce Pinot Noirs that combined Old World and New World ideas seemed natural. Together, they purchased a beautiful 40-acre property on Chehalem Mountain in Newberg, Oregon. The property is now home to the J. Christopher winery, and the Appassionata vineyard, their first estate vineyard.

In addition to producing Oregon Pinot Noir using the traditional methods of Burgundy, J. Christopher is also one of the few wineries in Oregon to produce Sauvignon Blanc, modeled after the great wines of Sancerre. The philosophy at J. Christopher is to produce wines in an Old World style that emphasizes focus, length and balance. As Jay 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. One important example: Jay would never heat up the cellar to induce malolactic fermentation in his Pinot Noir. This is a New World technique done to facilitate earlier bottling, but Jay feels it is damaging to the wine’s texture and balance. He wants the wines to evolve at their own pace, with minimum intervention.

Jay is also a member of The Deep Roots Coalition (DRC), which is an advocacy group for the production of wine sourced exclusively from non-irrigated vineyards. The wineries in this group share a vision regarding viticulture, winemaking and long-term viability of Oregon wine. They feel that vineyards must be dry farmed, and that it is the non-irrigated vines that work hardest to produce fruit that maximizes the true terroir. With fruit sources and skill that rival the best of Oregon, Jay Somers is a winemaker to watch.

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."


  • J. Christopher 2015 'Basalte' Pinot Noir, Chehalem Mountains
    The Wine Spectator
    Rating: 91 (10/31/2018)

    Refined and well-knit, with black cherry and tart blueberry flavors accented by black tea and spice notes. Drink now through 2024.
  • J. Christopher 2015 'Basalte' Pinot Noir, Chehalem Mountains
    The Wine Advocate
    Rating: 89 (8/31/2018)

    Pale to medium ruby in color, the 2015 Pinot Noir Basalte gives up aromas of redcurrants and dried cranberries with notes of earth, oolong tea, wood smoke and cola. Light to medium-bodied, it offers lots of red and black berry character in the mouth with a great smoky/spicy vein, grainy tannins and a mouthwatering finish.
  • J. Christopher 2016 'Volcanique' Pinot Noir, Dundee Hills
    The Wine Spectator
    Rating: 91 (3/31/2020)

    Graceful and supple, with nuanced raspberry and orange peel flavors, accented by stony minerality on the lingering finish. Drink now through 2026.
  • J. Christopher 2016 'Volcanique' Pinot Noir, Dundee Hills
    Rating: 90 (6/1/2019)

    Displays pungent red berry, cherry and floral qualities on the spice-accented nose, with a zesty mineral nuance adding lift. Offers sappy red and dark berry flavors that show gentle sweetness, good depth and energy. Supple and gently tannic on the nicely persistent finish, which features a lingering cherry quality.
  • J. Christopher 2016 'Basalte' Pinot Noir, Chehalem Mountains
    Rating: 91 (6/10/2019)

    Bright red. Seductive aromas of fresh cherry and boysenberry, with rose pastille and baking spice nuances adding complexity. Smooth, sweet and lively in the mouth, displaying very good intensity and depth but no excess weight to its nicely concentrated red and dark berry flavors. Clings impressively on a long, spice-laced finish that features a touch of vanilla and silky, harmonious tannins.
  • J. Christopher 2017 Sauvignon Blanc, Willamette Valley
    The Wine Spectator
    Rating: 89 (6/10/2019)

    Supple yet vibrant, with lemon and nectarine flavors that linger on a crisp finish. Drink now
  • J. Christopher 2016 'Basalte' Pinot Noir, Chehalem Mountains
    The Wine Spectator
    Rating: 91 (3/31/2020)

    Opens with sleek and gentle raspberry and rose petal notes, slowly gathering tension, structure and stony minerality toward fine-grained tannins. Drink now through 2026.
  • J. Christopher 2018 Sauvignon Blanc, Willamette Valley
    The Wine Spectator
    Rating: 90 (3/31/2020)

    Vibrant and expressive, with floral apricot and peach flavors that finish with a snappy note. Drink now.
  • J. Christopher 2016 'Lumiere' Pinot Noir, Eola-Amity Hills
    The Wine Spectator
    Rating: 94 (3/31/2020)

    Harmonious, with a lithe structure, offering expressive cherry and black raspberry flavors, laced with orange peel and spiced cinnamon notes and gathering minerality toward refined tannins. Drink now through 2028.
  • J. Christopher 2016 'Lumiere' Pinot Noir, Eola-Amity Hills
    Rating: 92 (8/4/2020)

    Ripe red and dark berries and cherry on the deeply perfumed nose; floral and spice nuances emerge with air. Juicy and well-concentrated, offering gently sweet black raspberry, cherry and floral pastille flavors and subtle allspice and licorice accents. Dusty tannins lend shape and grip to a long, focused finish that echoes the cherry and floral notes.
  • J. Christopher 2017 Sauvignon Blanc, Willamette Valley
    Rating: 90 (9/3/2020)

    Mineral-tinged orange, peach and honeysuckle aromas pick up subtle herb and floral nuances with air. Plush and velvety in texture, offering poached pear, fennel and honey flavors that are sharpened by a hint of bitter citrus pith. Smoothly plays power off finesse and finishes long and focused, leaving floral and pear notes behind.