From tasting barrel samples to the organized chaos of crush, Jason James, our Winemaker at Sumac Ridge Estate Winery, Steller’s Jay and Black Sage Vineyard, enjoys the entire process.

Jason discovered his passion for the grape after receiving an Honours degree in Biology at the University of Guelph in his home province of Ontario. He joined the cellar team at Thomas & Vaughan Estate Winery in the Niagara wine region, and received his Certificate in Oenology and Viticulture in 2001 from Brock University in St. Catharines, Ontario. 

After spending the 2002 season working the crush for Villa Maria Estates in Marlborough, New Zealand, he took on the role of winemaker at Thomas & Vaughan Winery, which focused on Meritage blends and Bordeaux varieties. 

With the sale of Thomas &  Vaughan Winery to the Niagara Cellars group in 2004, James became winemaker for both Thomas & Vaughan and Eastdell Estates, with a production of 12,000 cases. He was featured in the Liquor Control Board of Ontario's Young Winemakers Program, winning two Cuveé Awards (the "Oscars" of the Ontario wine industry), and in 2004 received Best Icewine in Canada at the Canadian Wine Awards for the Thomas and Vaughn 2002 Vidal Icewine.

The West was calling though. “I was keen to experience winemaking in British Columbia,” he explains. “I knew about the climate and growing conditions. Sumac Ridge’s reputation is known throughout Canada, so I jumped at the chance to join the team in 2005.”

Since heading up the cellar, James has worked to improve upon every vintage. “It’s still a thrill, every year; the promise of a vintage even better than the last: to improve from last year’s triumphs.” In addition to the wines of Sumac Ridge, James also oversees the winemaking for Steller’s Jay Sparkling and Black Sage Vineyard wines. 


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