The Jonata winery takes its name from the 1845 Spanish land grant, Rancho San Carlos de Jonata, as well as the Chumash word for “live oak” or “tall oak.” The Estate vineyard was planted in 2000 in the Southwest corner of what would become the Ballard Canyon Appellation in 2013. The terroir of Jonata property is unique to this site, comprised of eight hundred feet deep Careaga sands. These sands are extremely calcareous, retain almost no water and are virtually devoid of nutrients. In fact, these soils are so poor and the site so unique that the property was thought to be unfit for grape growing.

In 'desafio' (defiance) of this conception, vineyard manager Ruben Solorzano hedged his bets and planted the eighty acres of vineyards to a potpourri of different grape varietals. The original planting was made with Cabernet, Cabernet Franc, Merlot, Petit Verdot, Sauvignon Blanc, Sémillon and Syrah and, more recently, Grenache and Viognier — the Grenache was later ripped out and replaced with Petit Syrah. Today there are only twenty acres of Cabernet Franc and nine acres of Merlot in the entire Ballard Canyon Appellation, so to say that Jonata was bucking the trends would be an understatement to say the least!

REGION California
APPELLATION(S) Ballard Canyon, Santa Ynez Valley

The Jonata vineyards, 80 acres spread out across a 500-acre property, are essentially dry farmed, planted at extremely high density, often on their own root-stock and while the yields are too low to say that grapes thrive here — barely two pounds of fruit per a vine! — the one-ton-per-acre that Jonata brings in each year continues to set a new benchmark for the appellation, showing the power and grace that typifies this unique site. 

Jonata integrates and revolves livestock (chickens, turkeys, goats, pigs and sheep) in their farming model, which naturally enhances the soil and health of their land. Farmworkers are given a large garden plot to grow food for themselves and their families. Water is used judiciously and with precision. Herbicides and pesticides don’t even enter the conversation.

In the winery, winemaker Matt Dees and his assistant Drew Pickering shepherd the grapes along. Matt, who describes himself as being 'obsessed with dirt', does as little as he can, preferring a hands-off style of winemaking that allows the site to speak through. Cold soaking is minimal, only about 24 hours, with total time on the skins never exceeding twenty-eight days, and sometimes far far less. The red wines are pressed in an old Burgundian basket press and then aged in a mixture of different oak formats (228L - 350L) usually composing about 20% new wood. The real art to Matt’s craft is in blending, what the Bordelaise call assemblage — nowhere is this more apparent than in the flagship Jonata wine 'Todos', or “All”.

'Parallel Universe'
Wine Spectator
- Evan Dawson, 2013-11-15