Youthful Vigor, Mature Vision, and Ripe Personality: Jaxon Vineyards
Jamie and Katherine McCleary hit the start button on their long-planned dream in 2007, identifying and acquiring an old pear orchard, among the south-facing heights of Fern Valley north of Phoenix. Two years later, they had planted five combined acres of Viognier, Tempranillo, Syrah and Grenache, with a first harvest in 2011. Wine sales followed in 2015 and tasting room opened in 2016. Planting four more acres is slated for spring 2017—to include Albarino, Malbec, more Grenache, and possibly Chardonnay and Merlot. Truly, Jaxon Vineyards epitomizes the abundant best of the region.
Born and bred in the Rogue Valley, Jamie has cultivated more than just great grapes, but also has enjoyed longtime relationships with industry notables, sourcing juice from other growers and wine-making expertise from the likes of Herb Quady and Rob Folin (senior winemaker at Jaxon). The result is exceptional Rogue renderings of classic Spanish and French blends as well as the local specialties. Asked why the use of the same varietals and winemakers have landed him such immediate acclaim, Jamie humbly suggests freshness and locale, family, siting and focus; I suspect also his engaging and outgoing personality as a significant driver.
The tasting flight: 2015 Rose: pale, fresh, with heightened mineral, refreshing on a triple-digit summer day. 2015 Estate Rose: Syrah/Grenache blend, hint of sweet hits the nose while escaping the palate. 2013 Grenache: bright crimson with complex aged fruit and a hint of tannin. 2012 Mistral: house blend of Syrah and Grenache; excellent balance of dry fruit, tannin and acidity. 2013 Estate Tempranillo: leathery tannin texture, smoky and rich. 2012 Tradición: Spanish-style Estate Tempranillo/Garnacha blend; earthy, full mouth feel, dry and plummy; will age well. 2013 Merlot: limited release; rich but soft and gentle, spicy like Syrah. 2013 Forté: Rhone-style blend of four noble varietals; mellowed fruit and spice, dynamic yet supple.