Jeff Cohn Cellars (JC Cellars)

Paso Robles AVA

Cohn's passionate approach to winemaking has earned him numerous awards and ratings over the years

Originally from Bowie, Maryland, Jeff Cohn became interested in the wine business and took his first winery job with the well-respected Boordy Vineyards – Maryland’s oldest surviving winery, located in the Long Green Valley of northeastern Baltimore County. Cohn learned the basics of winery work and winemaking, but sought a warmer climate for his winemaking ambitions.

After earning a degree in Agricultural Chemistry and Enology from Fresno State, Cohn decided to make California his new home. He had an opportunity after graduation to interview with a number of wineries, and ultimately landed a position with Rosenblum Cellars, working under the highly respected Kent Rosenblum. At the time, Rosenblum was a major player in Zinfandel circles and has remained so until this day. A close relationship soon developed between Cohn and Kent Rosenblum – one that helped Cohn in the formative years of his own Jeff Cohn Cellars. Cohn calls Rosenblum his mentor and frequently confers with him on winery matters.

In 1997, Jeff Cohn Cellars (then known as JC Cellars) became a reality with the introduction of a microscopic 75 cases. Like Rosenblum, Jeff Cohn Cellars followed the innovative approach to industrial winemaking. Both wineries are located in industrial areas of Northern California’s sprawling East Bay, with Jeff Cohn Cellars located in Oakland and Rosenblum Cellars in nearby Alameda.

“The fact that we put all of our profits into buying better grapes, barrels and equipment, and, not into vineyard land and intangibles, makes our wines that much better,” Jeff Cohn has stated. “We are able to focus on the terroir of the vineyards and everyone knows that the aspect of terroir is the most important in making really fine wines.”

Jeff Cohn Cellars’ production has risen steadily since its inception and will top our around 5,000 cases this year. Most of Cohn’s focus is on single vineyard wines, carefully chosen from various parts of California for their specific character and complexity. He also crafts a handful of specialty red blends that take their inspiration from France’s Rhône Valley. Cohn’s passionate approach to winemaking has earned him numerous awards and ratings over the years, and we are proud to present his latest achievement to our Gold Plus! Wine Club members.

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Dear Platinum Wine Club Members,

I have always considered our wine a very Rhône-centric winery. Even though we do make Zinfandel, I approach it with a very Rhône minded approach. In my mind, this relates to the vineyards I choose to work with and how I process the fruit. We search for vineyards that are hillsides, mountain fruit, or planted in cooler areas with proper selections/clones to match the terroir.

All fruit is hand picked and then hand sorted. No crushing is involved and the use of whole cluster is a must. Sometimes up to 100%. All fruit is fermented in open top fermenters and punched down up to 5 times a day. Once fermentation is complete, the must is pressed directly to barrels ranging from 228 to 600 liters in size. We believe the larger the barrel, the fresher the wines stay (due to less oak influence on the wine).

We do not rack our wines until we bottle. I am a true believer in the less is best approach once the wine is in barrel. I really do feel what you are passionate about shows in your final wines – mine being both the Northern and Southern Rhône.

Please enjoy the wine and drop us a line if you can. We would love to hear from you at [email protected]

Half full,

Jeff Cohn

Dear Platinum Wine Club Members,

During my first year at Rosenblum Cellars, and just a few short months after graduating from Fresno State with an Enology degree, Kent Rosenblum asked me if I was interested in starting my own label. At first, I thought this to be a pipe dream, but I figured what the hell and went for it. We started with 75 cases of 2006 Zinfandel from the Rhodes Vineyard in Redwood Valley. To my surprise, my wine came in first place in the weekly San Francisco Times Panel Tasting and also garnered a 91 Point rating from Wine Spectator. Not bad. This incredible start set the stage for what would soon become an amazing adventure.

First and foremost, I worked for Rosenblum Cellars for 10 years, starting as an intern then working my way to Vice President of Production and Winemaking. During those 10 years, my 75 case winery grew so much so that we needed to move to a larger space. As time went on, my focus was less on Zinfandel and more on Northern Rhône varietals such as Syrah, Viognier, Roussanne and Marsanne. These were the wines that made my heart pound and are my passion. Yet, you never forget your first love so we continued to make Zinfandel.

As the saying goes, what goes around comes around and this is true for winemaking as well. In 2009 our Zinfandel program increased; so much so that we are now up to seven Zinfandels. In addition to varietal selection, we also started working with larger format barrels (between 300 to 600 liter barrels) and cement tanks. What these barrels and tanks bring to the wine is a different layer of complexity that cannot be achieved in the use of a traditional 60 gallon barrel. Combining these different formats allows us to take our wines to a level we had not achieved before.

In 2005 we started focusing on two new signature blends; Smoke and Mirrors and The Impostor. The first is a blend of Syrah, Petite Sirah and Zinfandel aged in large format barrels ranging from 300 to 500 liters in size. The second is a blend of predominately Zinfandel with Syrah, Petite Sirah, Grenache, Mourvèdre, Viognier and 150 year-old Carignane and Alicante Bouschet. Fruit from twenty different vineyards are used to create these blends. We use a mixture of 600 gallon barrels, cement tanks, stainless steel tanks and large format barrels to age this blend. Our signature wines allow me to express myself and not be held to one specific aroma or flavor profile.

The adventure continues.....our little 75 case winery has gone through many changes over the years, but one thing has stayed the course, the wine always comes first.

Jeff Cohn