Burgundian winemaker Jean-Nicolas Méo and music entrepreneur Jay Boberg’s mutual love of Pinot Noir, and desire to create something lasting together, drew them to the North Willamette Valley of Oregon’s wine country. Our viticulture and winemaking are informed by years of working the soils of Burgundy’s Grand Crus, an understanding we bring to old-vine sites in Oregon, including our own organically farmed estate Bishop Creek vineyard, as well as our 53-acre Dundee Hills Estate. It is from these unique sites that Jean-Nicolas, Jay and associate winemaker Tracy Kendall craft Nicolas-Jay Pinot Noir and Chardonnay. Viens avec nous.
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 Meo-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 Oregon pinot noirs, 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 Meo-Camuzet, Jean-Nicolas was excited by the idea of taking what he’s 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.”
We approach our winemaking with a steadfast belief in true artisanship, a passion for discovery and a deep respect for the land. We bring Burgundian traditions to our winemaking while aiming to express the natural elegance of Oregon’s Willamette Valley.
As stewards of the land, and passionate oenophiles, we endeavor to discover and reflect the unique terroir in our wine. Sharing our results makes the journey meaningful.
Cofounder and Winemaker: As the owner and winemaker of the Cote D ‘Ors famed Domaine Meo-Camuzet, Jean-Nicolas Meo’s path to Oregon’s Willamette Valley first went through the great grands crus of Burgundy, where he spent nearly 30 years making wines from legendary vineyards like Richebourg, Clos de Vougeot, Corton Clos Rognet and Echezeaux. In 2012, inspired by a three-decade interest in the quality and potential of Oregon’s Pinot Noirs, Jean-Nicolas partnered with his longtime friend, Jay Boberg, to found Nicolas-Jay in the Willamette Valley. At Nicolas-Jay, Jean-Nicolas applies insights gained from his experience making Pinot Noirs from some of the world’s greatest winegrowing sites to craft exciting and elegant Pinot Noirs that authentically show the terroir of the Willamette Valley, and some of its very finest vineyards.
Jean-Nicolas began his career in wine in 1989, when he left Paris and moved to Burgundy to guide his family’s domaine. As many of the metayeurs (sharecroppers) who leased his family’s coveted vineyard land began to retire, Jean-Nicolas made the decision to slowly start reclaiming the land for Meo-Camuzet’s own bottlings. This was a bold new direction for a domaine that had long been overseen from Paris. Finding that he enjoyed the rhythms of country life, and the challenges of running a winery, Jean-Nicolas began a period of intense modernization. To help during this period of transition, Jean-Nicolas was mentored by the great Henri Jayer, who had been making wines from some of Meo-Camuzet’s finest parcels for decades. From Henri, Jean-Nicolas gained a deep and lasting love of wine, and an appreciation for the more sensual side of Pinot Noir. At the same time, he began defining his own signature style, with an emphasis on depth, refinement and impeccable balance – a style that has catapulted Meo-Camuzet to fame, and earned Jean-Nicolas respect as one of the finest Pinot Noir winemakers in the world.
Though Jean-Nicolas has deep roots in Burgundy, he has long nurtured an appreciation for Pinot Noirs from other parts of the world – most notably for the wines of Oregon, which he first discovered while attending the International Pinot Noir Celebration in Willamette Valley in 1991. There, Jean-Nicolas met many of the region’s early pioneers, and had an opportunity to explore the remarkable potential of its wines. “I loved the valley’s Burgundy-like charm and mentality, with its dedicated farmers, and small, family-run wineries committed to making wines of great character,” says Jean-Nicolas.
For Jean-Nicolas, the opportunity to take a lifetime of experience in Burgundy and apply it to a new region, a new climate, new soils and new vineyards is both exciting and inspiring. “I have great respect for what has already been achieved in Oregon. It is a remarkable place with a vibrant wine community that we are thrilled to be a part of,” says Jean-Nicolas. In keeping with his belief in being hands-on, Jean-Nicolas spends nearly two months in Oregon each season, travelling regularly to the region throughout spring, summer and harvest to oversee the viticulture and winemaking alongside Tracy and Jay. “We see Nicolas-Jay as a collaboration,” adds Jean-Nicolas. “A collaboration between the three of us, between Burgundian and Oregonian ideas, and between Nicolas-Jay and our growers. Together, we want to create wines that are distinctive and exciting. We also see this as a unique opportunity to build something together that we hope will go on for generations, and have the same kind of significance 100 years from now as Meo-Camuzet.”
For visionary music entrepreneur Jay Boberg, the founding of Nicolas-Jay marks the exciting next act in a remarkable professional life, and is the culmination of a lifelong love affair with wine. Working alongside his longtime friend, renowned Burgundian Jean-Nicolas Meo, Jay has immersed himself in the world of viticulture and winemaking, and is deeply involved in every aspect of Nicolas-Jay. Spending close to six months a year in the Willamette Valley, Jay is both the dynamic guiding force behind Nicolas-Jay and its most committed cellar rat, taking samples, driving the fruit from the vineyards, sorting grapes, doing punch-downs, and whatever else needs doing without ego or reservation. “Along with our associate winemaker, Tracy Kendall, Jean-Nicolas and I make up Nicolas-Jay’s three-person team,” says Jay. “We all do windows.”
Throughout Jay’s life, he has made his avocation his vocation. Following his passion for music, at the age of 21, Jay cofounded the seminal indie record label IRS Records, and by his mid-30s, he began a tenure as president of MCA/Universal Records that lasted for more than a decade. Throughout his career, he launched or fostered some of the most influential music artists of the past three decades, including R.E.M., The Go-Go’s, Blink-182, Mary J. Blige, Sublime, The Roots and B.B. King.
During this time, Jay also developed a passion for wine that would shape his life. While attending college, Jay’s roommate worked at a wine distributor, and on an early trip to Napa Valley, Jay met Robert Mondavi, an encounter that inspired an enduring interest in wine. Building on this interest, Jay started forming wine tasting groups with music industry friends early on in his days at IRS. He also began working with people like Kermit Lynch (who has become a friend and mentor) to regularly hold winemaker dinners as part of promoting music events. “There are so many parallels between wine and music,” says Jay. “Both are driven by personal recommendations – one friend telling another – and they both enhance and enrich our lives by creating emotional connections. There are certain wines, like certain albums, that move you and stay with you forever.”
For Jay, whether they are from Burgundy or Willamette Valley, these unforgettable wines are almost always Pinot Noirs. “Pinot Noir is my desert island wine,” says Jay, “and I love the Pinots from Oregon. I’ve been drinking wines from Willamette Valley since 1983. People used to talk about their potential, but now you can taste what that potential has become – earth and elegance.” In 2012, as Jay was winding down his fulltime role in the music industry, he approached his friend, Jean-Nicolas, with the idea of starting a winery together in Willamette Valley. “Jean-Nicolas and I have been friends since 1988. We share very similar philosophies about life, business, wine and friendship. Nicolas-Jay is about making the very best Pinot Noir we can possibly make. It is also about building something together that one day we hope our kids will be a part of. When you look at the great domaines of the world, these two ideas go hand in hand.”
Noah has been overseeing the Nicolas-Jay cellar for the past 3 years, working alongside Jean-Nicolas. He is the driving force behind a lot of the hard work and heavy lifting in the cellar. Noah has made wine in the both northern and southern hemispheres, in Oregon, Australia and New Zealand. He brings 12 years of cellar experience to the team.
Director of National Sales: After earning a Bachelor of Science degree from the University of Oregon Kevin was drawn to restaurant management and the allure of the fine wine industry. Upon earning accreditation with the Court of Master Sommeliers he accepted an Account Manager role for The Estate Group, a division of Young’s Market Company, in San Francisco. He excelled inside a competitive environment and nurtured an expansive range of connections along the west coast. He returned to the pacific northwest to take the role of Branch Manager for Young’s Market Company in Washington. This offered new challenges for Kevin across a range of responsibilities: budget creation, personnel management, warehouse and delivery coordination along with sales and execution across wine, beer and natural beverages. This led to a Director of Marketing role in Portland, Oregon overseeing the Columbia Wine Group portfolio for Young’s Market Company. It was here he mentored underneath important and respected industry icons in the northwest, guiding him in the disciplines of planning and organization. Watching and observing how best to engage and negotiate with suppliers and clients that would achieve, not only his company’s goals, but his winery partner’s goals as well. A promotion to the Director of Sales role for the state of Oregon was followed by an executive committee post as Vice President of Sales and Marketing. A division that drove over 2 million wine cases annually and maintained an operating budget of over $50 million dollars. Upon earning his CSW certification from the Society of Wine Educators, Kevin took a leap into the new world of wine supplier roles. First with The Wine Group, LLC as a Regional Sales Manager covering 5 states in the west. It was here Kevin learned the practice of wine brand marketing at the highest level possible while managing and executing depletions of over 2.5 million cases per year across his region. After further expanding his west coast and pacific northwest reputation as an organized and disciplined wine professional with a capacity to take on even more challenging and demanding roles, he accepted a pacific northwest Regional Manager position with Kobrand fine wines. This was a superb role for Kevin that combined his expertise of distributor management with product marketing and his fine wine knowledge with execution and goal achievement. But there was much more to learn and accomplish. After 7 years of a successful career at Kobrand, Kevin accepted the role of Director of National Sales for The Nicolas-Jay Estate in January of 2020. This would be a cascading moment in Kevin’s career to partner with a remarkably accomplished set of individuals who were focused on building a comprehensive brand strategy that would drive demand beyond supply and elicit international recognition as a world-class producer.
© 2024 Domaine Nicolas Jay, All Rights Reserved. Credits