Bread & Butter Wines. Novato based WX Brands (they also maintain an office in London) was founded in 1999, at the time called Winery Exchange; over the years they have acquired numerous wine labels and continue to do so. In addition to wine, which is their primary product, they also produce beer and spirits. And other parts of their business include contracting supplies for alcohol products placed in large retail stores, bottling (their bottling line is based in Sonoma) and private custom labeling services.
As of our latest update to this review, WX Brands owns more than 10 brands including wineries and tasting rooms and exclusively works with nearly 50 other unique brands – many of whom are international. Some of the following we are familiar with and highlight include:
Bread & Butter Wines
In the summer of 2021 Bread & Butter wines moved into an existing tasting space at 3105 Silverado Trail (a short drive north of the city of Napa) on site of a Laird owned property with accompanying vineyards. On this site, the original winery (Pannonia Winery was founded in 1979 and over the years has had numerous owners with various winery names including Louis K. Mihaly Winery, Silverado Hills Cellars (owned by a Japanese company), Silverado Hill (Big Horn Cellars) owned by William Hill, Crushpad and Laird Winemakers Studio – and now waiting for a tasting room tenant. The existing building under went a multi year significant renovation prior to Bread & Butter moving in.
Stay posted for significant updates to this section of the review including tasting notes coming for current releases and photographs of the new space. Check back here by late summer 2021 please. At that point we will need to meet with either winemaker Linda Trotta or someone from WX Brands. #mybreadandbutter
For more information, to purchase wines or to join their mailing list to stay posted regarding winery updates, visit: www.breadandbutterwines.com
Jamieson Ranch Vineyards
Jamieson Ranch Vineyards was founded in 2011 (their first vintage dates from 2009) and is named after John Brocklebank Jameson a rancher whose namesake is used in several places in parts of the Napa Valley east of the city of Napa. Jamieson Ranch Vineyards used to maintain a tasting room off of Highway 12 but on March 25, 2019 they moved out of their tasting room. WX Brands purchased Jamieson Ranch Vineyards in 2017.
The property where they maintained their original tasting room used to be part of a huge cattle and horse ranch. Several wines had already been released from the estate at the time of our first visit many years ago. Initially when they first opened the tasting room, In they released wines made from non estate fruit sourced from other areas of the Napa Valley. As a result, they had quite a few wines already available for tasting and still do.
The Jameson Canyon area of the Napa Valley is a somewhat similar growing climate to the more famous nearby Carneros region. Both share climatic similarities because each region is located relatively close to the San Pablo Bay. This is the closest Napa winery to Sacramento. You can make it here from downtown Sacramento in just under an hour.
The land and the winery facilities where Jamieson Ranch Vineyards used to produce their wine are owned by Ken Laird, one of the largest private vineyard landowners in all of Napa County. The site is approximately 300 acres. In 2016 much needed vineyard replants were conducted on the surrounding acreage. More than 100 acres of Pinot Grigio, Chardonnay, Viognier, Pinot Noir, Merlot, Syrah and Cabernet Sauvignon are planted around the winery and their old tasting room. In Napa, this is an ideal area (along with neighboring Carneros) to grow cooler weather varietals, most notably, Pinot Noir and Chardonnay. Other wineries have vineyards in the area including Artessa and Laird.
Long time industry wine veteran Bill Leigon and several investors purchased the brand and existing inventory in 2015. Legion has been involved with wine for many years; he co-founded Ariel Vineyards (a non alcoholic wine brand, was national sales manager at J. Lohr and was president of Hahn Estates in Monterey.
The original winery location for Jamieson Ranch Vineyards was formerly known as Kirkland Ranch Winery, Reata Winery and Valley Gate Vineyards. Dutifully, we visited this winery after each name change. To further add to the confusion, the name Jamieson Ranch is a different spelling then the name of the road, Jameson Canyon. To further add to the confusion this space was being used by other brands for tastings and hospitality including Roots Run Deep and Educated Guess.
And ownership of Jamieson Ranch Vineyards seems to change every few years or less. Things change in the Napa Valley continuously, but not at the pace we’ve seen associated with this winery over the past 10 years. We have been trying to hang with all these changes and as a result this review has been udated numerous times over the years.
Select Jamieson Ranch Vineyard Wines
In homage to both John Jameson and Napa’s Valley’s early ranching heritage, all the labels produced by Jamieson Ranch Vineyards are named in tribute to ranching. As of our latest update to this review, they produce the following four primary labels: Double Lariat (Napa Valley wines), Reata (in Spanish means Lariat & features California coastal climates), Whiplash and Lighthorse (both California appellation wines). Several other labels are also produced. The wines are sourced from not only the Napa Valley but also select parts of central and northern California. All of the Jamieson Ranch wines are reasonably priced (certainly not common from a Napa based winery).
The 2009 Jamieson Ranch Viognier is from the estate; the bouquet is pleasing showing notes of cinnamon, baked red apple, aromas of pineapple and hints of lemon. Flavors of pear and white peach show on the palate with a slightly earth finish.
The 2009 Jamieson Ranch Pinot Noir reveals cranberry and blueberry aromas – this wine is very much fruit driven both in the bouquet and on the palate (certainly a part of being such a young wine). Its crafted in a lighter style; a clean easy drinking Pinot Noir. The mouth feel is soft and the wine shows nice acidity. Their winemaking philosophy is to try and make wines that are food friendly (this one is a good example) and to keep the alcohol levels lower.
Their first Zinfandel release is from 2009 and is the biggest wine in their lineup. Red and black cherry show on the nose, its not a spicy bouquet. Expansive fruit flavors, just slightly jammy (blackberry, with a big finish showing broad tannins with just a touch of oak that lingers. This is a good value wine.
Original Tasting Room + Winery (we keep these photographs here for historical purposes only)
Baileyana and Tangent
Baileyana and Tangent is located in Edna Valley in San Luis Obispo County. The tasting room is located inside a charming yellow old schoolhouse that dates from 1909/ Small tasting room – picnic area and ample parking. Their outdoor tasting areas are very popular during good weather. Homey inside and picturesque outside.
Founded by Catharine and Jack Niven – both came to San Luis Obispo in the early 1970s nurturing a vision of planting a vineyard in Edna Valley (at that time dairy farms). Jack planted vines in 1973 – the Paragon Vineyard and today it is the oldest continuously producing vines in Edna Valley. Jack was also part of the group that petitioned Edna Valley to become an AVA in 1982.
And Zocker Wines, another brand owned by WX can also be tasted here.
Chronic Cellars, Paso Robles
Chronic Cellars is located on the west side of the 101 freeway about 15 minutes from the Lake Nacimiento dam and about the same driving time to Paso Robles. Chronic Cellars was founded by brothers Josh and Jake Beckett in 2004 and was acquired by WX Brands in 2014. The Beckett family founded the now well-known Peachy Canyon Cellars in 1988 – still family owned with Josh and Jake now serving as winery partners.
Grapes for Chronic Cellars are sourced locally from Paso Robles growers. Known for their diversity of affordably priced wines, creative and colorful labels and adventurous spirit. The tasting room is welcoming with a casual and relaxed atmosphere. Absolutely no pretentiousness here – just down to earth, friendly and personable hosts.
The 2016 Chronic Cellars Stone Fox is a white blend of 41% Grenache Blanc, 37% Viognier and 22% Picpoul (a white variety primarily grown in the Rhone Valley and Languedoc in France – Paso Robles based Tablas Creek was the winery that petitioned the TTB to first gain approval for this variety in 2004). Medium yellow in color offers a stone fruit sweetness including apricot and peach, yellow pineapple, honey along with nuances of vanilla and caramel. Also notes of butter. Shows flavors of lychee, pineapple, butter, mandarin and an orange peel zest. Clean finish.
The 2019 Chronic Cellars Paso Robles Petite Sirah (Suite Petite) is dark ruby in the glass; shows aromas of blackberry, blueberry, violets and a hint of mocha as the wine continues to open further. Slightly savory in its aromatic approach. Soft on the entry and through to the finish – more linear in its flavor and textural approach rather than complex. Flavors of blackberry, spicy plum skins and pencil shavings with a darker very supple finish. Lingers with notes of pepper and a juiciness, more so from the fruit rather than acid. The noticeable presence of tannins is very minimal.