JC Cellars was the label formerly used by Jeff Cohn, of Jeff Cohn Cellars. Jeff Cohn Cellars is in downtown Oakland, at Jack London Square. The improbable urban location of this small, family-run enterprise is as surprising as the story behind Jeff Cohn Cellars. Jeff Cohn was in the hospitality industry until his 30s, when he became interested in winemaking. A few internships and a master’s degree in agricultural chemistry later, he got a job at Rosenblum Cellars. He began his own label in 1996, making Zinfandel, and in 2014 moved his operation to downtown Oakland. Cohn works with his wife, Alexandra, and assistant winemaker John Bruening. He sources grapes from throughout California and specializes in Rhone style wines and Zinfandel. Wine writers have been complimentary, with Wine Advocate often rating the wines in the mid to high 90s. Robert M. Parker has noted that Cohn is “one of my favorite producers year in and year out who still seems to fly under many people’s radar…. He has the Midas touch, it is clearly obvious. Anyone serious about wine should have some of his vinous elixirs in their cellar.”
Santa Barbara County is not an AVA, but a region just south of San Luis Obispo that includes the Santa Ynez Valley and Santa Maria Valley appellations. Wine has been produced in the area since the 18th century when Spanish missionaries planted vineyards. It wasn’t until the 1990s, however, that producers focused on growing premier grapes for fine wines. During the 1990s more than 10,000 acres of vineyards were planted, and today there are nearly 20,000 acres of vineyards. The region received a big bump in recognition and prestige when the popular film “Sideways” was shot there in 2004. Because the region is affected by maritime weather, it is relatively cool climate makes it ideal for Chardonnay. Cabernet Sauvignon, Pinot Noir and an increasingly adventuresome number of varietals are also grown successfully in Santa Barbara County.
This grape is grown in milder climates and produces a medium-to full-bodied wine. It is also known as Shiraz, but should not be confused with Petit Sirah, which was developed by crossing Syrah with Peloursin.