Make a model with the wines of Turning Tide

Many smart, good, and even lucky winemakers can work their entire lives and never achieve Alisa Jacobson’s success. At just 42 years old, Jacobson has already grown an internationally renowned brand from just 1,000 cases to over a million and just two months ago she is now fully focused on building her own dream cellar. , with the acquisition and continued development of two vineyards. Many respected winemakers retire before reaching any of these brands.

That first brand, which you’ve certainly seen on grocery store shelves and on wine lists, is Joel Gott Wines, where Jacobson started in 2003 and left out of court as vice president of winemaking this summer. . The second one, which you may not know but definitely should know, is Turning Tide Wines, which aside from a pinot noir grown in Oregon, is made from grapes grown in Santa Barbara County.

As a farm-raised ocean lover in the midst of ever-growing development, Jacobson uses everything she learned from Joel Gott to make Turning Tide both a sustainable and successful role model in the world. wine sector. “I wanted to have a place where I can show people how I think agriculture can be done economically but also in a way that is good for winemaking and good for humans,” said Jacobson, who has recently moved from Santa Rosa to Shell. Beach to be as close as possible to the sea and its two vineyards in the Santa Ynez valley.

Alisa Jacobson | Credit: Tim Carl

And she carries that message to the masses through affordable wines. “I want people to drink it,” she said. “They won’t drink it if it’s $ 200 a bottle.”

Jacobson made the decision to start farming quite young. The daughter of an engineer and an elementary school teacher, she grew up in the family’s cherry and pistachio orchard in the small town of Brentwood in the East Bay, near the oldest vineyards in the California Delta. While participating in 4-H programs, Jacobson saw farms being swallowed up by the urban sprawl of the Bay Area.

“We are trying to cultivate there as the suburbs get closer to the area, trying to figure out the logistics of getting a tractor across the sidewalks,” she said. “It made me realize how important agriculture is to us, to humans and to the planet. We have to find a way to live among them.

She decided to study agriculture and animal sciences at UC Davis, where her eyes were opened to everything from growing blueberries to wine grapes. A summer internship at Korbel got her hooked on the wine business, and she worked on sparkling wine for two other harvests, including one in Schramsberg. “People loved their jobs and they were all smart, articulate and creative,” she said. “I saw myself really enjoying this industry. “

The agricultural connection was there, but unlike many cultures, wine lasts for years. “It’s like a time capsule,” she said. “You remember a rain that fell in a certain vintage, for example. “

After graduating, Jacobson spent two years with Joseph Phelps, worked a harvest in Australia, and then heard about the new wine project that famous Napa caterer / restaurant Joel Gott was starting. “He took care of our harvest lunches, and that’s how I met him,” Jacobson recalls, noting that Gott’s wife Sarah Gott was also Phelps’ winemaker at the time. He remembered Jacobson because she was a vegetarian, which is how she has eaten since childhood, even though she grew up selling animals for meat in 4-H. “If I ate it, I wanted to know where it came from,” she said. “It’s just easier to eat cheese and tomatoes.”

In 2003, Jacobson became the first employee of Joel Gott Wines, which produced approximately 1,000 cases at the Napa Wine Company. “It was the heyday of the Napa Wine Company,” Jacobson said of this shared winemaking space. “I got to choose the brains of a lot of people.”

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With the tireless Gott in charge of sales and marketing and Jacobson in charge of wine, the brand exploded exponentially, especially when Trinchero partnered with a joint venture in 2009 that brought wines to all 50 states. In 2018, Joel Gott Wines produced more than a million cases per year for about fifteen different wines.

To quench that thirst and keep prices low, Jacobson constantly scoured the West Coast in search of new sources of grapes: Washington Riesling, Oregon Pinot Gris, Amador County Zinfandel, and Monterey Sauvignon Blanc, among so many other regions. She eventually signed contracts with over 100 different wineries, including a few in the Santa Ynez Valley.

But as Joel Gott grew up, Jacobson’s job became much more administrative. “It’s huge, and I really don’t make wine anymore – I manage people,” she explained, sharing her wines with me in my garden, two days before her last day at Joel Gott’s. “It’s all part of your personal growth. It was a good experience, but at the end of the day I don’t want to deal with people on a daily basis.

Credit: Adam Shindledecker

So in 2018, while leading a task force to research and tackle the growing problem of smoke smell in wine from forest fires, Jacobson was brewing his first Turning Tide vintages and has since tweaked and expanded the range. (See sidebar for wines.) Much of the fruit comes from two vineyards she now controls with Mike Testa and Ben Merz of Coastal Vineyard Care: Estelle Vineyard, which is home to 17 acres of 13 different varieties, including an Iberian somewhat obscure the grapes; and a former apple orchard on Baseline Avenue, where they planted Sauvignon Blanc for Joel Gott and Grüner Veltliner for Turning Tide.

She hopes to convey her ethics through the Turning Tide label, which features a woman standing on an island, holding a huge dandelion falling in the breeze. “I have the impression that everything is part of the whole. One thing affects another, which affects another. And wine really takes a lot of things: the soil, the weather and the people, ”said Jacobson. “I wanted something that represents all of these pieces that come together to make wine.”

Wines of the rising tide

Here’s a sample of what Alisa Jacobson is making today.

White blend from the Santa Ynez Valley: It pushes back the traditional limits with these two blends: in 2019, a blend of chenin blanc and grüner veltliner; and in 2020, a chenin blanc and verdelho. “There is a balance between this minerality and this fruit,” she said. “Nothing beats anything else.” $ 20

Red blend from the Santa Ynez Valley: This super fresh and spicy blend of mostly Grenache and a quarter Mourvedre from Estelle Vineyard is the newest addition. “It mimics what I remember from a trip to the south of the Rhone,” Jacobson said. “You go to a restaurant and there’s a carafe of wine on the table, and you like it.” 25 $

Sta. Rita Hills Chardonnay: She has never been a big fan of Swiss chard, but gets her supplies from the main vineyards in the region, including Donnachadh. “I wanted to challenge myself to make a Chardonnay that I would like to drink,” she said. $ 30

Pinot Noir from Oregon: Jacobson owns a home in McMinnville in the Willamette Valley and sources grapes from a vineyard in the Eola-Amity Hills. She tries to bring more consistency to Oregon wines. “I want my wine to show the site and the vintage, but I didn’t want to lean into it, where the wines are completely different from year to year,” she said. “I feel like Oregon is doing this a bit, almost intentionally. I don’t think consumers understand this. $ 42


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