Joey Tensley Description
In 1998, Joey Tensley embarked on a winemaking journey that would see him evolve from a small-scale, one-hundred-case operation to the helm of Tensley Wines, a flourishing 5,000-case-a-year business. His vision was clear: craft well-priced, Syrah-driven wines that allowed the distinct vineyards of Santa Barbara County to express themselves.
Joey’s passion for winemaking took root at the age of twelve during a soccer team tour of a French winery. The coolness of the old caves and the captivating aromas of fermenting wines left an indelible mark on him, setting the course for his future. A decade later, in 1993, he entered the wine industry as a “cellar rat” at Fess Parker Winery, swiftly ascending to the role of assistant winemaker at Babcock Vineyards. Here, he developed a profound appreciation for vineyards and growers, recognizing the uniqueness of Santa Barbara County’s microclimates.
In 1998, Joey took the leap to become the assistant winemaker at Beckmen Vineyards, where he found space to establish his label, focusing exclusively on Rhône varietals sourced from Santa Barbara County. The wine world began to take notice in 2001 when Matt Kramer of the Wine Spectator recognized Tensley’s 2001 Syrahs among the Top Ten Wines in the World.
Joey’s life took a new turn in 2002 when he met Jennifer, his future wife and business partner. In 2004, they opened the Los Olivos tasting room, becoming a central hub for wine enthusiasts. Tensley’s accolades continued to mount, with Food and Wine Magazine naming the 2006 Colson Canyon Syrah the “Top Syrah in America Over $20” in 2008, and Robert Parker awarding the 2008 Anniversary Series Colson Canyon Syrah an impressive 99 points.
In 2017, Joey expanded his portfolio with the launch of “Fundamental Wines” by Joey Tensley, a brand reflecting his philosophy of creating fundamentally sound, straightforward wines that exceed expectations at an affordable price point. Critics lauded the brand, with The Wine Enthusiast awarding the 2015 “Fundamental” red blend 92 points.
Joey Tensley’s journey from a dreamy twelve-year-old in Bakersfield to a renowned winemaker is marked by a commitment to quality, authenticity, and letting the vineyards of Santa Barbara County speak for themselves. As his reputation continues to soar, Joey remains steadfast in his original philosophy: make great wine, offer it at a fair price, and let the vineyard shine.