We approach our winemaking with a shared passion for true artisanship, curiosity for discovering possibilities and deep respect for the land. We bring Burgundy tradition to the fruit we grow in the Willamette Valley, while aiming to naturally reflect Oregon’s unique terroir.
If you are a wine lover, looking for what gleams beneath the rough,
viens avec nous.
Nicolas-Jay is the story of a three-decade friendship between famed Burgundian winemaker Jean-Nicolas Méo and visionary music entrepreneur Jay Boberg, and their shared love of Oregon Pinot Noir. It is also the story of their desire to build something lasting together, while creating a distinctive expression of great Willamette Valley Pinot Noir. At Nicolas-Jay, this is achieved by applying viticultural and winemaking experience gained from working with the grands crus of Burgundy to the finest grapes from Oregon. This includes fruit from the older vines of Nicolas-Jay’s own organically farmed Bishop Creek Vineyard on the hillsides of the Yamhill-Carlton appellation, as well as grapes from other top Willamette Valley vineyards, including Nysa, Momtazi and Zenith. From this fruit, Jean-Nicolas, Jay and talented Associate Winemaker Tracy Kendall make alluring and expressive wines that convey the special character of Oregon Pinot Noir.
Jean-Nicolas and Jay became friends in 1988, when Jean-Nicolas was studying abroad in the United States. The two found that they shared similar philosophies about life, music, wine and friendship. Though Jean-Nicolas soon immersed himself in guiding his family’s renowned Domaine Méo-Camuzet, and Jay continued to build his own IRS Records into a seminal indie label, they stayed friends over the next quarter century. During this time, they also discovered a shared interest in the quality and potential of the Pinot Noirs from Oregon, which Jay has been enjoying since 1983, and Jean-Nicolas has been exploring since attending the International Pinot Noir Celebration in Willamette Valley in 1991.
In 2011, a visit to the Willamette Valley reignited Jay’s fascination with the region. It also inspired him to commit himself fully to his lifelong passion for wine. He approached Jean-Nicolas with the idea of starting a small winery in Oregon. After nearly a quarter century of making wine at Méo-Camuzet, Jean-Nicolas was excited by the idea of taking what he’d learned from the grands and premiers crus of Burgundy, and applying it to a new region, a new climate, new soils and new vineyards.
Knowing that the wines of Nicolas-Jay would be defined by the quality of its vineyards, Jean-Nicolas and Jay began a lengthy exploration of the Willamette Valley and its top winegrowing sites. This search took them to dozens of vineyards, as well as wineries and cellars, where they tasted numerous single-vineyard Pinot Noirs and barrel samples. During one of these blind barrel tastings, featuring 20 different vineyards, Jay and Jean-Nicolas were both wowed by a wine made from the grapes of Bishop Creek Vineyard. It was distinctive, powerful, complex and elegant, with a beautifully perfumed nose. It was so striking that, even though they had no intention of buying a vineyard at the time, when they later learned that Bishop Creek was for sale, they knew that it was an opportunity they could not pass up. To complement the exceptional estate fruit from Bishop Creek, Jean-Nicolas, Jay and Tracy have also established relationships with a handful of the finest vineyards in the region, and work closely with the talented people who farm these sites to tailor vineyard practices to Nicolas-Jay’s specifications.
“We make the kind of wines we love to drink,” says Jay. “Elegant wines, with beautiful, complex aromatics and pure, lovely fruit—wines that evolve in the glass, and in the cellar. To achieve this, we start with the best vineyards, practice respectful farming, and strive to make our wines with sincerity. This means having good intentions as winemakers, and respecting the character of the wine.”