Jeff came to the Napa Valley via Alabama in 1999. “I had no bed, no couch, I slept on egg-crate foam for the first six months,” he says. “In just over a decade, Ames has become one of Napa's rising stars.”
- Wine Spectator
Jeff is one of an unusual breed of winemakers that includes his mentor Thomas Brown, Failla’s Ehren Jordan and a few others who learned wine making primarily hands on. Walking the vineyards, harvests and tastings were Ames’ real classrooms. “The model that was set before me was to get big, rich fruit, plush flavors, and not fine or filter if you don’t have to,” he says. “That’s where it starts.” Jeff is a purist, making sure the wines express their site foremost, rather than a particular winemaking style.
He first met Thomas Brown, then the winemaker for Turley. Brown brought on Ames to work with several of his projects for the 2001 harvest, including stints at Schrader, Maybach, Outpost and TOR.
During their many years of working together, Jeff and Tor have earned world-class critical acclaim. In most vintages, their single vineyard Cabernet Sauvignons and Chardonnays have scored in the top ten wines of the vintage, always among the best of Napa Valley, making them rare and hard to find. This seems to be a trend that will also be very much a part of their future.