Jeff Cohn Cellars
My wife, Alexandra and I run our family winery as a team. We started this project in 1996 with one Zin and have become a Rhône-centric boutique winery offering Rhône varietals and single-vineyard Zinfandels. Join me on a long and winding road and then we’ll walk the vineyards.
Jeff Cohn Cellars sources grapes from heritage, organic, and sustainably farmed vineyards in Sonoma County and a few select California sites to produce Rhône varietal wines and single-vineyard Zinfandels.
My winemaking is rooted in my curiosity and understanding a terroir’s minerality and what it gives the wine. It’s immersing myself into the viticulture of each appellation and producing wines that are truly a reflection of the vineyard itself.
Rockpile is one of the smallest AVAs in the nation, producing ultra-premium hillside fruit. In 1991, Rod and Cathy Park converted a dilapidated former sheep ranch into Rockpile Vineyard.
At 2010-ft. elevation, the vineyard sites are hilly and of course, rocky. Above the fog line, the vineyard’s terroir stresses the vines, but the average temperature range from 50 – 80º provides for a wonderful growing season, allowing for full ripening. The soil composition of granite, loam, clay, and quartz gives the fruit a strong mineral component. Altogether, this vineyard yields amazing fruit. Each Rockpile Syrah is truly unique in its depth and profile.
I began working with this sustainably farmed vineyard in 1998 and still love it because I know Syrah planted at high elevations in rocky soils are a match made in heaven.
Originally planted in the late 1800’s, Stagecoach Vineyard® was brought to glory by Dr. Jan Krupp who began redeveloping it in the mid-1990s beginning with the removal of 1 billion pounds of volcanic rock.
Today, this sustainably farmed vineyard is the largest contiguous vineyard in the Napa Valley as well as one of the most well-known in the Atlas Peak AVA. Soaring 1631-ft. elevation with volcanic red and yellow clay loam, and Hambright fractured decomposed rock. The region of the vineyard where I source the Marsanne and Roussanne is dominated by the typical red volcanic soils of Stagecoach, but what makes the area unique is its enormous quantities of flat rock, which provide exceptional drainage to the hillside blocks.
The Atlas Peak region has significantly less marine influence than the rest of the vineyard and has more shelter from the valley breezes, warming the region early in the morning and retaining the heat throughout the day making it the warmest growing region of Stagecoach Vineyard.
And then there is its fruit. The consistently stunning color is largely due to its elevation above the fog line, where the vineyard is exposed to more sunlight throughout the year. As a result, the fruit is dominated by classic “mountainside” characteristics, with big tannins and extremely complex flavors.
While Cabernet Sauvignon is the primary varietal grown, its Marsanne, Roussanne, and Viognier are unmatched in their depth and complexity. I source here purely and simply for the minerality, roundness, and depth that the vineyard offers to my beloved Rhône white varietals.
Rossi Ranch Vineyard:
This heritage vineyard showcases amazing terroir. Originally planted by legendary vintner, Carlo Rossi in 1910, Rossi Ranch is steeped in Sonoma Valley history. The original vineyard was home to several varietials including Alicante Bouschet and Grand Noir that were intermixed throughout its tracts.
It is a gorgeous, warm site. Its hills, rolling rows, and exposures are perfect for Rhônes. The vineyard is wild — surrounded by a mix of oak, pine, and fir trees.
In 2012, my friend Phil Cotturi resurrected its old vines and began organic farming that further develops the vineyard’s greatness.
Sweetwater Springs Vineyard:
The Landy Sweetwater Springs Vineyard is a gorgeous site for Petite Sirah and Zinfandel. Ulises Valdez first told me about this site in 2004 and I have been sourcing from this sustainably farmed vineyard since 2007.
Ranging from 300 to 1000 ft. in elevation, the lower elevations are exposed to the cooling influence of the fog, while the hillside fruit gets more than its fair share of sun exposure.
Ranging from 300 to 1000 ft. elevation, the well-drained soils bring a mineral backbone to the wine. For the Petite Sirah, it produces a richness and intensity with finesse.
Ulises grafted the ‘magical’ St. Peter’s Church budwood to create the my Zinfandel site in the vineyard. It is dark and rich as the rocky and sloping 55° slope hillsides forces the fruit to dig deep for nutrients — it brings so much character to both of these vineyard sisters.
El Diablo Vineyard:
Nestled in this heritage vineyard’s rows of Pinot Noir, there is warmer micro-climate is the perfect site for Grenache. It’s cool enough, warm enough, windy enough with perfect soils made possible by the legendary Ulises Valdez.
Originally planted in the 1930’s to mixed blacks on clay loam soils, the old vine blocks on the site are 100% original plantings which make up about 40% of the vines on the property.
I have sourced from this 500-ft. elevation vineyard since 2010. The clay loam adds depth and roundness to the wine while keeping an aspect of finesse to the overall balance.
The original “suitcase” budwood came from the famed vineyards of Chateau Rayas in Chateaunuef du Pape. Ulises Valdez and I brought from Rhône guru John Alban’s vineyard to the Russian River Valley, via connections in all the right places.