Jon Priest Description
Jon Priest, a vintner of remarkable skill and intuition, has cemented his place within the elite circle of California winemakers through a philosophy deeply rooted in the belief that exceptional winemaking starts with exceptional vineyard stewardship. As the Senior Winemaker and General Manager at Etude, Priest has become synonymous with a style of winemaking that prioritizes minimal intervention, allowing the inherent qualities of the grape to speak volumes. His approach is a testament to the conviction that the most superior wines are those “grown, not made,” a principle that has guided his illustrious career.
Born and raised on the Central Coast of California, Jon Priest’s journey into the world of wine was serendipitous, beginning in earnest upon his return from college. It was during his tenure at the Wine Cask Company in Santa Barbara that his passion for wine was nurtured. This period served as a critical juncture, sharpening his palate and solidifying his desire to delve deeper into the art and science of winemaking. Driven by an insatiable curiosity to connect more intimately with the vineyard and the winemaking process, Priest embarked on a hands-on career path that led him to Wild Horse Winery in 1989. His dedication and talent propelled him from an eager novice to the esteemed position of winemaker by 1999.
Priest’s career trajectory continued upward, with notable stints at Adelaida Cellars and Taz, each role further honing his craft and philosophy towards winemaking. However, it was in 2005 that Jon Priest’s winemaking journey took a definitive turn. Invited to join Etude and carry forward the legacy of founder Tony Soter, Priest embraced the opportunity to apply his vineyard-first philosophy on a broader scale, in the esteemed terroirs of Napa Valley. His tenure at Etude has been marked by an unwavering commitment to producing wines that are a genuine expression of their origin, capturing the unique characteristics and terroir of each vineyard site.
Priest’s approach to winemaking is meticulous and thoughtful, favoring techniques that gently coax the best qualities from the grapes. His philosophy is grounded in the belief that time spent in the vineyard, meticulously crafting and nurturing the vines, is paramount. This dedication ensures that when the grapes are finally brought into the winery, they are treated with the utmost respect, allowing the natural beauty and complexity of the fruit to shine through. Under his guidance, Etude has flourished, producing wines that are not only reflective of their specific varietal characteristics but also of their unique environmental conditions and terroir.
Jon Priest’s influence extends beyond the vineyards and cellars of Etude. His reputation as a masterful winemaker, particularly with Pinot Noir, has earned him acclaim within the industry and among wine enthusiasts alike. His ability to create wines that convey a sense of place, that tell a story of their origin in every sip, is a rare talent that has solidified his status as one of California’s most respected winemakers.
In sum, Jon Priest’s career is a testament to the power of passion, dedication, and a deep-seated belief in the principles of sustainable and inspired winegrowing. His work at Etude is a continuous pursuit of excellence, a journey that respects the past while always looking towards the future. Through his hands, the vineyards of Napa Valley speak, offering wines that are as much a pleasure to drink as they are a reflection of Priest’s unwavering commitment to quality and authenticity.