Tres Sabores (“three tastes”) was founded in 1999 by winemaker and owner, Julie Johnson, to explore the ‘three savory flavors’ in every glass of wine: the taste of the vine, the terroir, and the good company around the table. The property is filled with growing history as olives and vines were planted here over a century ago. Today, the farm is a certified organic (CCOF) grower of Cabernet, Zinfandel, Petite Sirah, and Petit Verdot, pomegranates, Meyer lemons, and Olives. We also raise Guinea fowl and sheep who serve not only as lawn mowers and the mobile fertilization team for the ranch but also ‘go to market’ and are served in some of the finest farm to table restaurants in the Bay Area.
As wine aficionados struggle with the notion of terroir, wherein the character of a wine is truly a reflection of the place where the fruit is grown, I feel confident that the same can be said of people and the places where they “grow”. This is certainly true of my wife, Julie Johnson, owner/ winemaker at Tres Sabores. As those of you who have been to “the ranch” can no doubt attest, it would be hard to imagine Julie doing life anywhere else. The brisk stride, the sparkling eyes that engage you so directly, the willingness to discuss, in detail, any aspect of the wine business or of life’s many questions, and… all of this flowing so clearly from her love for, and connection to this place – it’s quite amazing.
I have watched in awe as unsuspecting visitors, imagining that they are arriving for just another tour and tasting (oh, yawn…), are revived as they stroll with, inquire about, relate to, laugh with and are made warm and satisfied by their “new friend”. In the end, there is always the warm hug and the knowledge that these folks will return to Tres Sabores one day, with more friends in tow who “just have to see this place”. They, too, will now have a connection to a place…this place.
Julie arrived here at the end of the South Whitehall Lane, mother of three, an experienced home health care nurse and successful wine marketer, in 1987. Among Julie’s many accomplishments, she is a proud graduate of Bowdoin College in Maine and the Columbia University School of Nursing and Public Health in New York. Along with her first husband, John Williams, and partner, Larry Turley, she founded and owned Frog’s Leap Winery. In partnership with the lovely and talented Michaela Rodeno, founding CEO at St. Supery Winery, she founded “Women for Wine Sense”, the ongoing national organization whose vision it is to support the appreciation for, and responsible consumption of wine. She is a passionate gardener who has never seen a weed she didn’t love to pull, and a natural cook. A friend says, “Julie cooks like others play jazz”. At the end of the day, she sleeps best if she feels that she has been a reasonably good steward of the land, and has capped off the day with a reasonably good glass of wine! – JonEVino 2009
To write the simple title: “Consulting Winemaker” is to believe the soul of this lovely, talented, cordial, sensible, educator-mentor who also happens to be my husband! He’s responsible for encouraging me to make wine. More importantly, he makes me laugh.
Jon has over 30 years of experience in this business: as associate winemaker at Silverado Vineyards, as winemaker at Robert Pepi, Hanna, and then finally Turnbull—people are attracted to his wines because they’re excellent and because they’re made by a man who people like to be around. He’s taken a great leap of late and crafted a consulting business that takes him to Santa Ynez, Contra Costa, India, and the Oakville highlands. Most importantly now, I get to see Jon more than when he routinely worked 15-hour days at Turnbull—which suits me just fine. Needless to say, Tres Sabores benefits from his care insight, creativity, and extraordinary skill in making wines that people love to drink, Church Key. Viva JonEVino!
Miguel comes to us from Guatemala but it’s more like he came to us like manna from heaven. He is eager, takes initiative—makes the ranch stronger for his presence. We could not reach towards our goal of a fully self-sustaining land without Miguel; not in the least because the sheep and the guineas have bonded to him. OSHA may you never visit the ranch when Miguel is working to harvest olives from the heights of the Picholines! Most importantly for the wine, Miguel is a quick study when it comes to cellar quality control—so crucial when making small lots of wine as we do at Tres Sabores.