Jorian Hill -
As vintners, Gary and Jeanne Newman approach Jorian Hill with passion, and without pretension, as they work to handcraft small-lot, Rhône-varietal wines using fruit from their family's organically farmed Santa Ynez Valley estate vineyard.
The Newmans did not set out to own a winery. Longtime residents of Los Angeles, for years they had enjoyed a love affair with the coastline and foothills of Santa Barbara County, regularly exploring the area's many back roads and winery gems. In 2005, they began looking for property in the region, hoping to find a new home for their family. After months of searching, they discovered an idyllic 20-acre estate, nestled amidst the rolling hills of Ballard Canyon. In addition to its stunning hillsides and country house, the property offered something unexpected—7.5 acres of excellent Syrah and Viognier vines covering a southwesterly facing hill.
"Before we even saw the house, just driving onto the property it felt like home," says Jeanne, reflecting on her first impressions. "The land was graceful and gorgeous, with vineyards climbing the terraced hillsides. It was mid-August and the grapes were full and lush. Looking at it, I actually had tears in my eyes. We instantly knew that we were meant to be there. Making wine from the property was an unexpected pleasure that we fully embraced."
Although new vintners at the time, Gary and Jeanne dedicated themselves to making the best wines possible. To achieve this goal, they applied their respective skills honed as chairman of 20th Century Fox Television, and as a partner in a successful entertainment law practice. The Newmans proceeded to make several key early decisions to shape the winery.
After an extensive vineyard assessment by noted vineyard manager Jeff Frey, the Newmans decided to follow in the footsteps of the previous owners by cultivating the vineyard using both organic and sustainable farming practices. Approaching the property as both a working vineyard and as a home for their family, it was important to the Newmans to maintain the highest standards of quality, while also fostering a healthy environment for their children, the vineyard team and the property's other inhabitants: two dogs, cats, goats, lambs and numerous chickens.
At the same time, Gary and Jeanne committed themselves to learning about the wine industry, with an emphasis on premium Rhône varietals. Going to the source for their inspiration, the Newman family traveled to the Northern Rhône. There, they consulted with the owners and winemakers of numerous family-owned wineries in the region, gathering information about the ideal methods for cultivating and producing superior Rhône-varietal wines. In addition, to gain practical, California-based knowledge, Jeanne took courses at UC Davis in vineyard management.
In September of 2005, the Newmans officially founded Jorian Hill, blending the names of their three children—Jordan, Reed and Hillary—to reflect the family's love of the vineyard. Taking their inspiration from the property's country house, with its inviting wraparound porch, the Newmans have created an elegant and simple winery aesthetic. From the clean, minimalist bumblebee logo paying homage to the vineyard's vibrant life (and the many stings endured during harvest) to their vineyard-focused wines, the Newmans are striving to create something enjoyable and authentic.
In 2007, gifted winemaker Kenneth "Joey" Gummere joined the tight-knit Jorian Hill team. Working alongside the Newmans, and renowned vineyard manager Jeff Newton (whose other clients include Stolpman, Jonata and Rusack), Joey has refined and elevated Jorian Hill's viticulture and winemaking programs. This has been achieved through new plantings, a belief in lower yields, and an artisan approach that includes as many as 20 individual fermentations each vintage—a remarkable number for 7.5 planted acres. The result is an estate portfolio of hillside-grown, Rhône-varietal wines that includes Syrah, Viognier and Jorian Hill's BEEspoke blend. Made in small lots to ensure the attention to detail that defines great winemaking, these wines embody the rich, robust elegance of Jorian Hill.