On most wine tasting trips with friends, conversation tends to center on the beautiful surroundings, the aromas in the glass, and where is everyone having their next amazing meal. When Jeff started wine tasting back in his 20’s, the question that kept popping into his head was “why does this wine taste the way it does?”
It would be this burning curiosity about what happens before wine enters the bottle that would lead Jeff to leave a career as a medical research scientist and enroll in the UC Davis winemaking program.
Jeff grew up in Washington State, graduating from the University of Washington with a B.S. in Cellular and Molecular Biology. Beginning his career as a research scientist in Seattle, Jeff explored the deep, tannic vintages of Washington’s varied wine regions. When his career took him to New York City, Jeff discovered another facet to his fascination with wine—pairing it with fresh and passionately prepared cuisine.
During this time, Jeff also visited the wine regions of France. His scientific roots, his desire to understand the process and his ongoing curiosity to discover what made wine taste a certain way ran wild. He traveled the Burgundy and Bordeaux countryside, sampling and discovering how place and climate can create subtle variations in the flavor and complexity of a bottle of wine. Jeff realized his hobby needed to become his career.
Fast forward to 2003. Jeff has graduated with an M.S. in Enology and then takes on his first harvest with Artesa Vineyards. Soon after, Jeff has become Assistant Winemaker at Dutton-Goldfield, digging into the world of cool-climate Pinot wine growing. Then he was on to the role of Winemaker at Hartford Family Winery, specializing in Pinot Noir from Russian River Valley and Sonoma Coast appellations.
Today, as Winemaker at Williams Selyem, Jeff continues to ask the question of what makes a wine taste the way it does, now tempered with, ”how can we coax the best out of each vintage?” Jeff also brings another perspective to the making of wine as a gardener and home chef. On a Sunday away from the winery, you’ll find him in his garden, tending to his tomatoes, lettuces and peppers, gathering up ingredients for a wonderful meal to share with family and friends. Of course, a bottle of Williams Selyem has been hand picked to compliment the meal.
Jeff was born in 1971, a year Sonoma County Pinot Noir has been described as, “smoky tobacco and earthy.”