J. Wilkes Pinot Blanc is one of my favorite domestic whites from one of my favorite winemakers.

The Region

Santa Maria Valley is located in the Santa Barbara area and is one of the first AVAs established just after Napa in 1981. It may be southern California but the valley is latitudinal and acts as a funnel for the cool breezes that drift in from the Pacific which helps the grapes retain their acidity. It also makes the region very friendly to Chardonnay and Pinot Noir. But we’re not talking about those right now. One wine at a time.

J Wilkes Pinot BlancThe Producer

Jefferson Wilkes was a grower in the Santa Maria Valley and in Paso Robles Highlands for 20 years. His tireless efforts in promoting quality helped to establish Santa Maria Valley as the heart of the Santa Barbara wine region. He sold his grapes to some of the greatest winemakers in California. He launched his own label in 2001 and sadly died several years later. Wes Hagen is now the winemaker extraordinaire at J. Wilkes. Wes is pretty famous. He’s an accomplished lecturer, researcher, teacher and writer having written for all the major wine mags. In 2013, he was named one of the most influential winemakers in the United States, he researched, wrote and had approved the last three Santa Barbara AVAs, he’s taught and lectured extensively and, if that isn’t enough to impress you, he is also an extremely upbeat and hilariously funny guy.

The Wine

Stainless steel fermented so the wine is crisp and clean. Only 2,500 cases made.

Ok, Let’s Drink It

Phantom DinnerI served J. Wilkes Pinot Blanc last week in my first collaboration with guerrilla chef Matt Sargent of Phantom Dinners. In our eight course meal the wine paired beautifully with the second course of shaved pork tenderloin over celery, cucumber and mint with Thai chilis and fish sauce. (I also had it last night with some tofu pad-thai from Rod Dee.) The wine is a beautiful straw color and is very aromatic with apple, pear and citrus. The palate follows through with a gorgeous minerality. It’s a dreamy wine. I wonder about its lees aging. It has a finish that lingers even after a forkful of noodles. The bright acidity, round texture and soft fruit really make this wine a keeper.


J Wilkes Pinot BlancGet This Wine

J. Wilkes Pinot Blanc $16 / 750ml
Buy this wine by September 18, 2017 and save 10%.

Discover more about J. Wilkes here.

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