Jaimee Motley is a game-changer. An artist, she began waitressing to pay the bills during her studies. It was during her time working at iconic San Fran restaurant RN74 that she first fell down the wine rabbit hole. There was no turning back; it ignited a new passion and she soon found herself working as a harvest intern. Inspired and encouraged by Pax Mahle, she started her own label, and now makes some of the most exciting new-wave examples of Mondeuse, Cabernet (as well as a Cab, Merlot & Cab Franc blend), and Chenin Blanc that California has seen.
LITTLEWINE visited Jaimee in California
Photographs by Leigh-Ann Beverley
"The first time I had Mondeuse it just struck me… I’d just never had anything like it before. That was it - I’d connected immediately to a wine, fallen in love with a grape and my search for more became a pure obsession."
People: Jaimee Motley
Place: Santa Maria Valley, Carmel Valley AVA, Santa Cruz Mountains, Mendocino
Varieties: Mondeuse, Chenin Blanc, Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, Merlot
Farming: Organic, négociant (Jaimee buys grapes from trusted growers with whom she has close relationships)
Did You Know? Jaimee's true love, Mondeuse, is in fact genetically the grandchild of Syrah. Also, Jaimee hadn't really envisioned making Cabernet, but when the once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to work with a historic Santa Cruz Mountain site of very old and dry-farmed vines arose, the Peter Martin Ray vineyard, she simply couldn’t turn it down. Today, her love of that wine has also led to her experimenting with a nod to old-school Bordeaux, Clairet-style, with a co-fermentation of Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, Merlot and Malbec.
"I make my wines instinctively, by doing what makes sense to me. Even with my Cabernet - I’ve never been to Bordeaux and I’ve never worked at a Napa Cab winery. I just do what feels right.”
For her Chenin Blanc, this means simple whole cluster pressing, and long ageing. The latter is crucial for her. She reminisces;
“I fell in love with the wine after it had been in barrel for 15 months. It started to take on this whole new textural dimension and the acids started integrating, and it became complete. I then bottled it after 18 months had passed, when I felt it was at its best.”
Her reds are made as gently as possible; with whole bunches and as few punch-downs as possible. She contemplates,