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Screaming Eagle sister winery produces first vintage

Jonata, the new winery from the owners of Screaming Eagle, has just released its first official vintage.

Charles Banks and Stan Kroenke began Jonata Winery, based in Santa Barbara, just before they bought the cult Napa winery in 2006.

The focus of Jonata is Bordeaux blends, which winemaker Matt Dees, formerly of Staglin Family Vineyards in Napa and Craggy Range in New Zealand, said could be seen as a gamble in Santa Barbara County.

‘The climate walks a fine line,’ he said. ‘Spacing, vine density and low yields are crucial.’

In addition to ripe and structured wines, made for longevity, Jonata also produces Sangiovese, Syrah and a German-styled dessert wine. ‘Sangiovese is not happy outside of Italy,’ Dees said, ‘except here in Ballard Canyon,’ where the 80 planted acres are in their fourth year.

Yields are typically one to two tons per acre, translating to a miniscule production of 3,500 cases.

Prices are resolutely top end. The least expensive wine, a Sauvignon Blanc, sells for US$75 and the high-end Bordeaux blend, El Desafio de Jonata, is US$125

All fruit is estate with the exception of the Pinot Noir, which comes from the Santa Rita Hills AVA.

Written by Michael Cervin

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