Let’s face it – there are a lot of wine writers, and I’m sure most of us would all aspire to own our own vineyard someday. For me, the steps that would require just don’t fit in my current world. But there are others who madly pursue their dream. Donna and Roger Beery from Bacchus and Beery Wine Blog were once writers. But after years of writing and dreaming of becoming vintners, they took the leap and J. Cage Cellars was born.
J. Cage Cellars is a family business that all began with one sip in the early 80s when Roger visited Caymus Cellars and tried the Cabernet. That moment brought a passion for learning, writing and later the blog, which focused on smaller, family-owned wineries. A family meeting led to a decision that they were leaving Austin and moving to Sonoma to make wine.
According to the website, this is the family’s “Wine-Stained Dream” to make hand-crafted wines that give voice to the vineyard. The grapes are sourced from boutique vineyards and are very limited production (like 7 barrels max).
The J Cage Cellars name comes from Roger’s great-grandfather who helped design and build Austin’s historic Lamar Boulevard Bridge. It is his spirit that lives in the bottle of every J Cage wine. The business continues to be a family run with Roger serving as proprietor and lead cellar rat and his wife Donna in operations. Roger’s daughter, Whitney, manages Jordan Winery’s DTC Program and VIP Experiences, and his son, Conch, is a winemaker at Opal Moon Winery. Adam Lee serves J. Cage’s consulting winemaker.
I recently had the opportunity to taste a variety of their Sonoma offerings and I really enjoyed these single vineyard wines:
2019 J Cage Cellars La Cruz Chardonnay – I loved the crisp minerality and notes of Apple tart, peach, caramel, baking spice and vanilla. (125 cases)
2019 J Cage Cellars Cuvee 42 – A blend of four vineyards in Sonoma with notes of red and blue fruit, spice, licorice, and earth. It’s very drinkable and a great expression of Sonoma pinot noir. (700 cases)
2019 J Cage Cellars Pinot Noir El Coro Vineyard Sonoma County (7 Barrels) – The winery, located in the Petaluma Gap, yields notes of black tea, Asian spice, cherry, cardamom, cranberry, and herbal notes.
2019 J Cage Cellars Pinot Noir Hallberg Vineyard Sonoma County (7 Barrels) – I tasted black and blue fruit, pomegranate, chocolate, tobacco, and spice.
2019 J Cage Cellars Pinot Noir the Wedding Block Russian River Valley Sonoma County (5 Barrels) – this was one of my favorites. A big wine with raspberry and blackberry jam, spice, black tea, and earth tones. Crisp red and blue fruit, tea, and forest tones.
2019 J Cage Cellars Pinot Noir van der Kamp Vineyards Sonoma Mountain Sonoma County (5 Barrels) – and my other favorite! This is made in a Burgundian style and is from one of the oldest Pinot Noir vineyards in Sonoma dating back to 1952. I tasted black cherry, roses, herbs, espresso, and earth.
Each bottle receives the same oak treatment, but the terroir shines through.
This is a story of evolving a passion and turning a wine-stained writers’ notebook into a delicious and viable reality. Donna and Roger, I applaud you.