Napa Valley AVA
An elite, legendary, highly esteemed producer
When Englishman Perry Butler immigrated to California just over thirty years ago, he arrived as an accomplished chef who had learned his trade in the well-respected Truste House Forte chain of hotels in Europe. He fully expected to pursue his chosen trade in this country until he and his wife Carolyn devised a computer niche company that had instant appeal to the airlines industry.
The Butlers started their computer services company in 1982 that provided travel links for many of the world’s top carriers and the couple eventually located their workplace in the East Bay community of Walnut Creek.
But Perry Butler never forgot his early culinary training and the atmosphere that first piqued his interest in wines. “In the old days I used to trade my fellow employees’ steaks for good bottles of wine,” he fondly recalled. “It was all good fun and my favorites were the great red Bordeaux Chateaux.”
The Butlers’ computer company prospered and its proximity to nearby Napa Valley proved to be a compelling force to the talented couple. At first, the pair began to visit Napa every six weeks or so and soon found themselves cutting the time between visits to three and then every two weeks. The love affair with Napa eventually compelled Perry and Carolyn to purchase a weekend home in 1997 that came complete with an acre of grapes planted in Cabernet Sauvignon and Zinfandel. By that time, the Butlers spent each weekend in Napa and within months they found themselves spending more time in Napa than their home in the East Bay.
“By then we were convinced that our future lay in viniculture,” added Butler, “so we sold our home and business and bought a wonderful 50-acre plot on Spring Mountain that we both loved. It was the inspiration for our new winery.” Butler admits that he had experimented with custom crushing some valley grapes as early as 1998 with the help of his friend, Napa Valley land and vineyard guru, Andy Beckstoffer. Juslyn (a combination of daughter Justine, and Perry’s wife, Carolyn) Vineyards also planted their first grapes in 1998 and the same year announced their first release of approximately 700 cases.
By 2000, the Butlers achieved their first Estate Cabernet release from their own hillside vineyard, a tiny 80 cases. The wine was incredible, and displayed elegance in the style of a premier Cru Bordeaux. Each Estate vintage thereafter has been more productive, and each release becomes more exciting as they experience firsthand the future of Juslyn and its powerhouse wines.
The Butlers credit their success to the hard work of their wine and grape specialists. For the vines, Juslyn takes advice from the Renteria Vineyard Management team, led by Salvador and Oscar Renteria. The father-son duo has produced outstanding grapes for many prestigious Napa Valley vineyards, and with their help, Juslyn has been able to select the most appropriate varieties for their vineyards and consistently farms the highest quality fruit.
“At Juslyn, we insist that each vineyard we use possesses some specific historical background,” Butler explained. “So far, we have been fortunate to secure some incredible fruit that has led to some terrific wines. We have always said that Juslyn strives to allow our vineyard selection to express itself through our wines. We always try and remain true to that premise.”
In the cellar, the Butlers rely on winemaker Craig MacLean to craft their world-class estate wines. MacLean’s experience and expertise working with many top-notch producers, including Markham, Cain, and Spring Mountain Vineyards, makes him the ideal addition to the Juslyn team.
The Butlers also claim another inimitability, that being, the couple is also officially Lord and Lady Butler in Great Britain. It seems that research turned up the fact that Perry Butler is descended from a royal line some 250 years old and thereby entitled the couple to be called Lord and Lady of the Manor of Maidencourt, a village some 55 miles west of London.
While the Butlers downplay their role as royalty, they cannot escape the fact that their Spring Mountain Juslyn Vineyards has assumed its place as one of Napa Valley’s elite wineries. We hope you enjoy this legendary selection from this highly esteemed producer. Cheers!