Juslyn Vineyards is owned by Carolyn and Perry Butler; both are originally from the United Kingdom. They purchased Global Dynamics, Inc and operated and grew this staffing company for proprietary software until they sold this business in 1997. As a result of their operations they would often stop in California on their way to Asia for work. Eventually they moved to Walnut Creek in the San Francisco Bay Area in 1982; while living there, they would often make the drive up to Napa Valley for weekend getaways.
The lure of full time living in Napa Valley became too strong to ignore; in 1997 they purchased 42 acres in Mayacamas mountains of what is now the Spring Mountain District located slightly above historic Spring Mountain Vineyard winery. Upon moving to Napa Valley the Butler’s met Art Finklestein (the founder of Judd’s Hill Winery). He made several home vintages for them. Still several years away from the maturation of their estate vineyard, in 1998 and for several years following, they purchased grapes for their early vintages. 1998 was their first commercial release. The first wine produced under their ownership from their property was in 2000.
The property has some vineyard history; it used to be owned by Charles Krug Winery and grapevines were originally planted here in the late 1800s. When the Butler’s purchased this hillside property the original vineyards had long been abandoned.
They hired well respected vineyard manager Oscar Renteria to plant the vineyard. The vines grow on sloped rocky hillsides mostly facing south east in the lower part of the Spring Mountain appellation. Based on their unique exposures and open rolling hillsides, the site is blessed with plenty of sunshine. Further up Spring Mountain one finds redwoods growing near creek beds and much steeper and more forested slopes (although the Glass Fire of 2020 severely burned through much of this part of Spring Mountain). Today they farm 5.5 acres of primarily Cabernet Sauvignon but also Merlot, Cabernet Franc and a tiny block of Petit Verdot. Long time Napa winemaker, Craig MacLean was their founding winemaker.
General Manager Stephanie DeMasi joined their small team in 2003 and worked with the Butlers until 2019. She answered an ad that Perry and Carolyn had placed for a General Manager. Her prior local wine experience involved working with Cathy Corison (well regarded Corison Winery) and helping launch the Bounty Hunter Wine Shop in the city of Napa. She recalls Perry asking her a simple question, “can you understand my accent” – understanding his accent was not a problem and she was soon hired. Today she is also a partner in the brand.
Juslyn’s focus is to craft the best possible wine from their estate property each year – creating blends rather than 100% varietal wines. This means changing the components of the wine each year based on what will produce the best wine from the individual vintages. The name “Juslyn” was created by combining the first part of Perry’s daughter’s name, Justine with the last part of Carolyn’s name.
Their Sauvignon Blanc is the only non estate wine; the 2012 vintage was purchased from a vineyard in St. Helena. Initially floral notes show and are aromatically pleasing, including notes of rose petal which transitions to citrus blossom. The palate has some weight and is viscous towards the end but with a finish that is crisp and clean. They make so little of this wine that it is reserved for just a handful of restaurants in the town of St. Helena and their wine club list members.
The 2016 Juslyn Vineyards Rosé of Cabernet Sauvignon is surprisingly dark red in the glass. The color perhaps is an indicator that this is not a light rosé. It is very aromatic with sweet notes of raspberry and watermelon on the bouquet and very subtle hints of mint. It features a very noticeable creaminess on the palate (this wine does see a fair amount of French oak during its aging). The mouth feel is pleasing, accompanied by intense flavors which linger for some time on the finish. One doesn’t need food to pair with this wine as it drinks very well by itself.
The 2009 Juslyn Vineyards Cabernet Sauvignon features an elegant bouquet which initially shows dark fruit and some intriguing complexities; it is still very elegant. The palate features primarily dark cherry with a hint of vanilla. Earthy tannins sporting some noticeable structure are beautifully integrated with the fruit. There is plenty of life on the finish which persists for some time. Many wines in the 15% alcohol range or slightly above aren’t super balanced; this is one of the more balanced wines we have had in the 15% range.
The 2009 Juslyn Vineyards Perry’s Blend is a wine that has gone through an intriguing evolution – both in varietals and in name. The Butler’s met Andy Beckstoffer early on during their visits to Napa. He manages some of the most premium vineyards in Napa Valley. Initially this wine was a blend from some of Beckstoffer’s heritage vineyards including Tokalon, Dr. Crane and Georges III blended with some of their Spring Mountain Fruit. They simply called the wine, “Napa Blend”.
Robert Parker was taking notes on this wine one day while visiting their property and he mentioned that he thought this name was too generic. The Butler’s nodded appropriately and politely but they knew that their label had already been submitted to the TTB for approval. The next they heard from Mr. Parker was a mention of this wine in his Wine Advocate newsletter – he referred to it as “Perry’s Blend”. People started calling the winery asking for this wine and deciding to honor both Mr. Parker and Perry; the name stuck and they make this wine every year. But today it is entirely made from their Spring Mountain estate fruit.
The 2009 Juslyn Perry’s Blend was aged three years in barrel (both new and neutral oak) and then another 18 months in bottle before release. It shows a pretty floral component intermingled with ripe fruit that bursts from the glass. Both red and black fruit show on the palate including raspberry and blackberry. This is a medium bodied wine with great acidity. The structure is there but shows up more in the form of short tannins; it lingers delicate on the back of the palate.
Their “Rescue” label is a rare wine indeed. It is only made during certain years from wine that doesn’t quite fit the profile for the Perry’s blend and their estate Cabernet Sauvignon. The 2008 vintage was merely 140 cases. 100% of the proceeds from the sale of this wine directly benefit several charities that the Butler’s are involved in. Most notably is the Golden Triangle Asian Elephant Foundation. During a stay at the Four Seasons Tented Camp in Chiang Rai, Thailand they were introduced to the camp’s charity project which involves rescuing elephants from the streets of Bangkok and other cities. We spend a lot of time in Bangkok; when we first started visiting Bangkok in the mid 1990s we used to sometimes see elephants in the streets with their handlers offering rides to tourists. Fortunately we haven’t seen an elephant in the streets of Bangkok used in this manner in years. Finding themselves in a position where they wished they could support this project, they launched Rescue.
The 2008 Juslyn Rescue Napa Valley is a blend of 45% Cabernet Franc, 35% Merlot, 18% Cabernet Sauvignon and 1% Petit Verdot. We tasted this wine 14 years post vintage date. It is dark ruby and tinged with some dark brickish colors in the glass; the bouquet shows plenty of tertiary aromatics after its time in the bottle and offers aromas of dark chocolate, coffee, toast, cocoa powder and hints of nutmeg. As the bouquet continues to evolve it reveals aromas of dried herbs. These aromas are initially more prominent than the fruit (cooked blackberry, dried figs and dark cherry). This bottling is very approachable with fine-grain well-woven tannins. It offers flavors of red cherry, red plum and red licorice and a lingering note of old cedar box. At 15.5% alcohol this is testament that a higher alcohol Napa Valley wine will age (although one can feel the alcohol on the finish).
Inspired by her love of shoes and with Perry’s urging, in late 2002 Carolyn founded Footcandy, a retail store located at 1239 Main Street in St. Helena and operated this business for approximately 15 years, even expanding operations to physical stores in Sonoma and Delray Beach, Florida. Its focus was on providing both casual and dress shoes for women from name brand suppliers. And in 2008 Carolyn founded Ephiphany Yoga Center, also in St. Helena.
While these two business have previously closed, Carolyn and Perry currently operate Napa Valley Soul Crystals (which they founded in 2008, the current location dates from 2018). Located on Spring Street in a modular looking structure behind the New Harvest Community Church in the southern part of St. Helena, this community health and wellness space offers daily spin classes, Yoga, Tai Chi, Qi Gong and Meditation. And they have the largest selection of healing crystals in Napa Valley with over 120 minerals represented at any one time. The hours are limited or by appointment. Several very cute alpacas are housed in the open space adjoining Napa Valley Soul and if available, guests are welcome to feed a single carrot to one of the animals.
With an annual production running usually between 1200 and 1300 cases, their distribution has to be selective. Juslyn wines are found in certain markets in New Jersey, parts of western Canada, Chicago and locally at a number of restaurants in Napa Valley. One used to be able to taste their wines at the upscale winery + art tasting room, Ma(i)sonry in Yountville which offers either private or semi-private experiences available. For more information, to become an allocation list member, or to schedule a tour of their vineyard, visit: www.juslynvineyards.com