Ep. 116: Nicole Hitchcock - J Vineyards and Winery
The Inside Winemaking Podcast with Jim Duane
This episode features Nicole Hitchcock the winemaker for J Vineyards and Winery in Sonoma’s Russian River Valley. Our conversation was an opportunity to pull all the stops on my technical questions about sparkling wine and Nicole was delightfully up to the task. “Bubble velocity” is my new favorite term to casually drop into conversations. Nicole also led me through her Chardonnay and Pinot noir winemaking and the reasons the Russian River Valley is a special place to make wine. LINKS AND RESOURCES MENTIONED IN THIS EPISODE J Vineyards and Winery- Healdsburg, CA Russian River Winegrowers This podcast is brought you by Black Dog Consulting. Wine has been made since Antiquity; Kings, Queens, and common folk alike have all Revered and Coveted it. Over the centuries, Vintners have carefully documented the eccentricities. This activity persists today. Joining forces with the Cadre of Consultants and Vendor Partners in the Black Dog Consulting Network gives the Vintner unparalleled access to Tribal knowledge, the best Support, and Products on the Market; often at lower cost. This comes with adjacent support from their Cadre of Consultant Agents; mostly at no cost to the end-user. Most of the firms in the US are sole proprietors, whereas Black Dog Consulting operates as a "hive mind." This means if a situation arises where it is beyond the scope of expertise of your local agent, the rest of the cadre will address it and find a solution. They are a team of accomplished agents with a diverse background who are attempting to take a crowdsourced approach to your beverage science solutions. This is a novel approach to wine consulting in the continental United States. You can reach them via email email@example.com @Blackdogconsultingwine @BetweenTwoBudsPodcast @TheDeliberateWinemaker Questions? Comments? Let me know what you think: firstname.lastname@example.org if you learn something from the collection of podcasts at Inside Winemaking, please considering donating to support the show. Paypal links at the bottom of the Inside Winemaking homepage. Every small donation is helpful. The Inside Winemaking Podcast on iTunes And Stitcher Radio Too
Growing up in Carmel, California, Nicole Hitchcock was highly influenced by the power of food and wine when it comes together. Coming from that part of the world, it’s no wonder she became a winemaker. Nicole is winemaker at J Vineyards & Winery in Sonoma well known for still wine as well as sparkling. Her [...]
Meet Nicole Hitchcock the winemaker at J Wines in Sonoma County. Discover how she started her career working in the wine cellar at Robert Mondavi before pursuing a career in winemaking. Learn about the top moment in her career (so far), and a newer wine project that is generating a lot of buzz. Find out how this woman, who grew up in Carmel, decided to live in Santa Rosa, and so much more!
Nicole Hitchcock, Winemaker at J Vineyards and Winery
California Wine Country
Nicole Hitchcock is our featured guest on California Wine Country with Steve Jaxon and Dan Berger today. She is the winemaker of J Vineyards and Winery. Her colleague Chef Carl Shelton is also here and he has brought several delicious appetizers. Tom Simoneau is also on today's show.The show starts with a cork popping out of a magnum bottle of J Cuvée 20 sparkling wine. This was Tom Simoneau’s Sparkling Wine of the Year for 2019 and J Vineyards and Winery was his Winery of the Year.Tom and Nicole agree that sparkling wines age better in magnum bottles. "We don't mess around at J," says Nicole, about how their wines age gracefully in the bottle. This is a blend of Chardonnay, Pinot Noir and a little Pinot Meunier, which is a rare classic variety of grape grown in Champagne and elsewhere in France and is often used in sparkling wines. Tom says it's similar to Pinot Noir but with a bit more complexity. There is very little Pinot Meunier grown in California, these grapes come from Russian River Valley. She likes the earthy note and red fruit flavors and the fact that it evolves a little more rapidly than Pinot Noir.A sparkling wine producer has to understand a lot of work, starting with the plain wine, then producing the bubbles. Carl Shelton points out that the entire process is done by hand, for the Magnums. They produced about 1000 cases of the Cuvée 20. Dan Berger says it is fabulous now but about 3 years away from being even more fabulous. This wine did spend 3 years on the yeast, but the bottle time is also critical, if your storage is cool enough.Dan has recently found that you don't age these bottles on the side, because the corks will become waterlogged. "Stand 'em up!," says Dan "Lay it Down" Berger.Carl Shelton has brought some cheese with accoutrements, which he describes. This is what they serve every day at J Vineyards and Winery. They try to change the cheese plate about every 8-10 weeks. Whether you take the sparkling menu, the pinot menu or the variety menu, your appetizers will pair with whatever flight you get. It's a tricky choice because each cheese has to go with all three wine selections. They try to have as much cheese from California as possible, but in order not to repeat themselves they also use artisinal cheeses from "off the beaten path." There are many ways to enjoy some food with the wine, at J Vineyards and Winery.This J Cuvée 20 sparkling wine is a non-vintage wine, as are most sparkling wines. Dan tells about the reserve wines that winemakers keep, in order to blend it into the wine from year to year. This makes the wine more stable but makes it impossible to assign a vintage date (by law, once you have over 5% of the blend from another year).This is a dry sparkling wine, but because of the Pinot Noir in it, has a little more fruity flavor. Dan says you can smell the Pinot Noir right away as soon as you open it.Tom reminds listeners that the local wineries and tasting rooms are open, despite the fires.Next they have the 2015 vintage Blanc de Noirs. This is 93% Pinot Noir and 7% Pinot Meunier. There is a different flavor profile for each of these sparklers. The first one has more acidity, the second was all strawberries and this third one has French and California combined. Carl says it is his favorite wine to pair with because it is so versatile.Some pairings are contrasting, or else complimentary. Their goal is to open people up to the possibilities of what food can do for wine and vice versa. He will taste something in the wine and then he will try to find a food that will bring that to the forefront.They also taste some still wines. J Winery is known for sparkling wines but they also produce still wines, such as the 2017 Chardonnay that they are tasting. This is the Bow Tie Chardonnay from Bow Tie Vineyard in Healdsburg. The Clone Z has a floral quality, with jasmine and marmalade.They are open 7 days a week,