Jillian pours her heart and soul into her wines
Founded by Jillian Johnson in 2012, Onesta Wines is a boutique, Rhône-centric winery based in Lodi, California. The winery produces small amounts of Cinsault, Viognier, Grenache Blanc, and a Rosé of Cinsault, with all fruit sourced from prestigious Lodi vineyards including the famed Bechthold Vineyard, Clay Station Vineyard, and Bokisch Ranch. Each year, owner/winemaker Jillian Johnson sets out to create wines that capture the spirit of the growing season and the unique sites from which they are from.
Jillian found her passion for wine while studying neurobiology at UC Davis. Homebrewing introduced her to the magic of fermentation, and after taking the “Introductory to Winemaking” class at UC Davis, she quickly switched her major to Viticulture and Enology. She graduated in 2001 and soon thereafter found herself as an intern at the infamous Bonny Doon Winery. To learn even more about winemaking, Jillian began traveling to the southern hemisphere to work additional harvests. For three years, she spent time in McLaren Vale (South Australia), Margaret River (Western Australia), and Stellenbosch (South Africa), where she learned to work with different varieties and winemaking styles. The Rhône varietals quickly became her favorite to work with, and she returned to Bonny Doon as Associate Winemaker in 2005, where she was able to focus on these French varieties full time.
While working at Bonny Doon, Jillian was introduced to the historic Bechthold Vineyard, the oldest continuously farmed vineyard in Lodi (planted in 1886). For over a hundred years, the grapes grown here were known as “Black Malvoisie” and typically sold to home winemakers and out of state wineries for very low prices (no one wanted to buy grapes with such a strange name). It wasn’t until the grapes were tested at UC Davis in 2003, that they were identified as Cinsault – which was in high demand among Rhône-style wineries like Bonny Doon. The grapes are now prized and highly sought after and only a select few winemakers have access to the incredible old vine fruit.
Now truly a seasoned winemaker, Jillian pours her heart and soul into her passion project of Onesta Wines. We hope you enjoy one of her special Bechthold Vineyard Cinsaults as this month’s Gold Series Plus selection. Cheers!