Kenneth Joey Gummere, Winemaker
Jorian Hill's winemaking program is guided by winemaker Kenneth "Joey" Gummere. Joey's approach to winemaking at Jorian Hill emphasizes the diversity of the vineyard through numerous small-lot fermentations. At the same time, he works closely with founders Jeanne and Gary Newman, and vineyard manager Jeff Newton, to realize a signature style that captures an authentic sense of place. This style highlights the elegance and the complexity of Jorian Hill's estate fruit.
Joey began honing his craft as a Santa Barbara County winemaker beginning in 1997. Working alongside some of the area's most renowned vineyard managers and winemakers, he gained an intimate understanding of the winegrowing region and its capacity to produce wines of depth and distinction.
In 1999, Joey joined the team of Santa Barbara County winemaking legend, Bryan Babcock, at Babcock Winery & Vineyards. Working under Bryan, he developed a philosophical and stylistic appreciation for cool-climate wines, in particular the complex beauty that can be achieved in great Syrahs from this area. His journey as a winemaker also took him to Santa Barbara Winery and Lafond Winery & Vineyards, where he learned from noted winemaker Bruce McGuire while his assistant winemaker. His experiences also inspired him to found his own winemaking label, Transcendence, which he runs with his wife, Sara.
In 2007, Joey joined the Jorian Hill team. "For years, I had been driving by this beautifully terraced hillside vineyard off Highway 101," says Joey. "It had always intrigued me—terraced vineyards are rare and special in this area." When Joey met the Newmans and realized that this unique vineyard was theirs, everything clicked. "There are some vineyards that you long to make wine from—Jorian Hill is one of those places."
As the winemaker for Jorian Hill, Joey works in both the vineyard and the winery to optimize quality. Under his direction, Jorian Hill has grafted several sections of Syrah over to Grenache, and has introduced Mourvèdre to augment blending options. He has also advocated a meticulous pruning regimen in Jorian Hill's organically farmed vineyard to lower yields and increase vine balance. Throughout harvest, Joey guides the picking of the vineyard in small sections to retain the character of individual blocks. In the winery, he applies cold soaks to enhance concentration, and ferment in lots as small as a half ton—with as many as 20 individual fermentations each vintage. This hands-on, small-lot approach results in wines that are rich, elegant and sophisticated.