Attention to Detail Shines Through in Their White Wine Portfolio with Kristen Barnhisel of J. Lohr Vineyards & Winery

by Drew Hendricks
Last updated May 10, 2023

Legends Behind the Craft Podcast

Attention to Detail Shines Through in Their White Wine Portfolio with Kristen Barnhisel of J. Lohr Vineyards & Winery

Last Updated on May 10, 2023 by mark

Kristen Barnhisel 2022
Attention to Detail Shines Through in Their White Wine Portfolio with Kristen Barnhisel of J. Lohr Vineyards & Winery 11

Kristen Barnhisel is a highly skilled winemaker at J. Lohr Vineyards & Winery, where she is responsible for crafting the company’s white wine portfolio. With over two decades of viticulture and winemaking experience from around the world, Kristen has established a reputation for her excellent palate and technical skill. She puts her expertise to use, creating a range of white wine varieties, styles, and winemaking methods for J. Lohr.

Available_Black copy
Available_Black copy

Here’s a glimpse of what you’ll learn: 

  • Kristen Barnhisel is J. Lohr’s Winemaker of the white wine portfolio
  • Kristen fell in love with wine in Italy and wanted to bring people together through it
  • She talks about J. Lohr’s vineyards, Acacia Wood, and their Sauvignon Blanc
  • She discusses the unusual harvest season and white wine program evolution
  • J. Lohr Winery being awarded the Green Medal for sustainability leadership in the industry
  • J. Lohr Winery’s attention to detail shines through in their white wine portfolio
  • Using concrete eggs for Pinot Blanc fermentation

In this episode with Kristen Barnhisel

In this episode with Kristen Barnhisel, Kristen discusses J. Lohr’s white wine program and its commitment to sustainability. How does J. Lohr’s approach to sustainability sets them apart from other wineries?

Kristen Barnhisel is J. Lohr’s Winemaker for the white wine portfolio, Kristen talks about how J. Lohr received the Green Medal Award in 2020 for its commitment to sustainability. 

In today’s episode of the Legends Behind The Craft podcast, Drew Thomas Hendricks and Bianca Harmon are joined by Kristen Barnhisel for a special wine tasting episode, Kristen Barnhisel is J. Lohr’s Winemaker. Kristen talks about Riverstone Chardonnay as a versatile grape that allows for layering of different flavors and malolactic strains. J. Lohr aims to balance respecting the fruit while having a bit of creaminess without overpowering it. They talk about the work that goes into their winemaking process and the different white wines they produce, including a Riesling, Chardonnay, and Pinot Blanc.

Resources Mentioned in this episode

Sponsor for this episode…

This episode is brought to you by Barrels Ahead.

Barrels Ahead is a wine and craft marketing agency that propels organic growth by using a powerful combination of content development, Search Engine Optimization, and paid search.

At Barrels Ahead, we know that your business is unique. That’s why we work with you to create a one-of-a-kind marketing strategy that highlights your authenticity, tells your story, and makes your business stand out from your competitors.

Our team at Barrels Ahead helps you leverage your knowledge so you can enjoy the results and revenue your business deserves.

So, what are you waiting for? Unlock your results today!

To learn more, visit or email us at to schedule a strategy call.

Episode Transcript

[00:00:00] Drew Thomas Hendricks: Drew Thomas Hendricks here. I’m the host of the Legends Behind the Craft Podcast. On this show, I talk with leaders in the wine and craft beverage industry. I’ve got a really special episode today we’re gonna do a run-through of J. Lohr’s White Wines with the head winemaker, Kristen. Before I formally introduce her, gotta do the sponsor message.

Today’s episode is sponsored by Barrels Ahead. At Barrels Ahead, we work with you to implement a one-of-a-kind marketing strategy that highlights your authenticity, tells your story, and connects you with your ideal customers. 

In short, we help wineries and craft beverage producers unlock their stories to unleash their revenue. Go to today to learn more. Now we also have Bianca Harmon joining us on the show today. She’s our DTC strategist. How’s it going, Bianca?

[00:00:59] Bianca Harmon: It’s going great. Really excited for this tasting episode. 

[00:01:04] Drew Thomas Hendricks: Yes, I am super excited. So, today we have Kristen Barnishel on the show. Kristen’s the white winemaker for J. Lohr, and she leveraging two decades of viticultural and winemaking experience.

She guides J. Lohr’s White wine portfolio. How’s it going, Kristen? Welcome to the show. 

[00:01:20] Kristen Barnhisel : It’s going well. Good to see you both. 

[00:01:23] Drew Thomas Hendricks: Nice to see you. Thank you so much for joining us today. Really excited to do this rundown. So, two decades. And I gotta say, in the pre-show I see that you went to UCSD for an undergraduate about the same time, I was getting my undergraduate in ancient Greek. 

[00:01:39] Kristen Barnhisel : Fantastic. Well, and my undergraduate is actually in Italian literature. Yeah. 

[00:01:44] Drew Thomas Hendricks: So I love people arts kinda background that are something completely different than where they’re now. 

[00:01:50] Kristen Barnhisel : Exactly, exactly. Well, it was really fun to, you know, I studied French in high school and I had the idea of maybe going abroad for junior abroad.

Oh yeah. And thought, you know, my sister went to France. I thought, oh, I can study Italian and, go to Italy. So I ended up, studying for a couple years and then studying in Padua, and studying Italian literature in Padua. 

[00:02:10] Drew Thomas Hendricks: Oh wow. Wow. One of my biggest regrets was not doing the year abroad in, Italy.

I went to Gonzaga and they had Gonzaga and Florence, and I was so caught up in ancient Greek and philosophy that I decided I didn’t need to, but it was a huge regret. 

[00:02:24] Kristen Barnhisel : Oh, it was good to get over there and to kind of expand horizons. For sure, for sure. Had the chance to study some things that I would’ve never had the chance to otherwise.

Well, I’m sure you know with the ancient Greek, I got to study an ancient history class called the Mancha. Oh, so the great Greece 300 BC and some of the stories that people had from Greece and from southern Italy and that history there. I got the chance to study a witchcraft in Venetian Oh, wow.

And some of the trials that they were studying, and again, to read those actually in the native dialect in Venetian, and of course films and a little bit of like Fellini and the films too. So, anyway, that was earlier on, but, yes, undergrad was a bit. 

[00:03:02] Drew Thomas Hendricks: What brought you into wine?

[00:03:06] Kristen Barnhisel : Well, I was introduced to it very early on, as you may have read, I grew up in Sonoma County. I grew up in Santa. And, from when I was like nine, I was kind of going around the catwalk at Simi Winery. My mom was microbiologist there back in the day when Zelma Long was, winemaker there.

And so, I kind of grew up with the chardonnay smells and on the catwalks and things. And I was 9, 10, 11 years old and my first jobs were there, when I was 18 and 19. I was assistant small, lots winemaker there. So doing some experimentation and half in the vineyard and half in the winery kind of yeah, that really, that was my first kind of like, oh, I could do this.

I really like being in the vineyards. I love farming. And then it gets hot, we come in and we do some lab work. I like the balance of life with that. So yeah, it was great, but it was really in Italy that I fell in love with wine and kind of saw it as more a conduit to conversation around the table and really wanted to make something that people, you know, could bring families together and friends together.

So that was really my, kind of, my impetus when I was over there. I kinda like, okay, now I need to get back and get to UC Davis and get the training to do the winemaking program. 

[00:04:12] Drew Thomas Hendricks: I like that track, like for go out and see the world cause too many people just jumped straight into it. 

[00:04:17] Kristen Barnhisel : Yeah, I thought it was really good to get some, you know, again, get out there, get some other winery experience and other, country experience.

I also did, in 1999, I did a harvest in, South Africa for Wall Street. So I got to see that just outside of, Stellenbosch down there and worked about eight weeks down there for the harvest, and again, just broadening horizons, just learning how different countries and different wineries do things.

[00:04:43] Drew Thomas Hendricks: Yeah. South Africa’s been on my bucket list to visit and especially the wine regions. what was the differences that you saw having a chance to spend time down there? 

[00:04:52] Kristen Barnhisel : In South Africa? Yes. Yeah. well, at that time they were just in 1999. They were just coming out of the co-op movement, I say co-op as a system for winemaking, so many growers.

And then they typically bring their grapes to the co-op for processing. And it was just kind of moving away from that to individual wineries. Sure. Making their individual brands. So it was a time, I would say more modernize and set up systems in place.

So I was helping them, look at setting up laboratories and their laboratory, what they could do in-house for laboratory work, what they could send out, getting some records in place for wine tracking and things like that. Just getting kind of systems in place, as they kind of shifted to this new environment.

Wow. And that, yeah, that was in 1999. I highly recommend it. It’s beautiful down there and Table Bay in the area down there is a lot like San Francisco Bay, I would say. So there’s a lot going on. I do appreciate that they, are doing quite a bit of work with, of course, Pinotage, inherently, but, Cab Franc does well down there.

Of course, Cabernet Merlot, we’ve seen, you know, in more recent years, Chardonnay and, pinot in kind of some of the cooler regions on the southeastern coast. and Chenin, which one of my favorite grapes I hope to work with sometime. Again, the Chenin Blanc is beautiful. Yeah. 

[00:06:10] Drew Thomas Hendricks: Oh yeah, they do. So that was 99.

 Let’s flash forward to J. Lohr 2015. You came on as, a winemaker for the white wines. 

[00:06:18] Kristen Barnhisel : Yes, yes. Actually, I found out about this job. I thought, Hey, you know, J. Lohr, you know, I can do this. My first job out of UC Davis was actually working at Columbia Crest and made Chardonnay consistently in Russian River, in Anderson Valley, and Sauvignon Blanc and Rome whites at Inglenook before this.

and then I found out about this job and having known the lower family, prior to joining, I was really like, yeah, I think it would be a really good fit. I’ve known them more through UC Davis and through the work that Jerry has done in terms of donating to research and donating to, not only to help build the winery there, for the fermentation room, but also in general.

Now he’s, also in partnership at Cal Poly with, you know, helping, give back to that research organization. But he’s always supported the American Society for Enology and Viticulture, an organization that works on sharing research information from various universities internationally, it’s about 2000 people.

And I’ve known him through, cuz he is always been a big supporter of that as well, in terms of research and education and yeah, I was past president of ASCV, in 2019 and 2020. So yeah, I had these connections with Jerry even before I, or, you know, joined the company and thought, yeah, that’ll be a good fit.

And continue experimentation, continue moving the wine industry forward, you know, with what we can do and sharing information. 

[00:07:38] Drew Thomas Hendricks: Yeah. and what responsibility be. So, directing the white wine program at J. Lo hr. Now is that typical in a winery to have a red winemaker and a white winemaker and have it be sold?

[00:07:50] Kristen Barnhisel : It i s at this size, I think, and it makes a lot of sense. So, back up a little bit. Our winery’s about 20 miles due south of Monterey Bay, in the heart of Arroyo Seco. we have about, 1300 acres down there that we manage right at the winery, and it makes a lot of sense for us to have the winery right near the vineyards.

So, when Jerry first came here in 1972, he planted 280 acres and of 11 different varieties. And among them were, Chardonnay and Riesling. And now we have, you know, 1300 acres that we farm there, but it does really make sense to actually have the winery right in the middle of the vineyards where we can night, pick and early morning, pick the fruit and keep it nice and fresh.

 And actually, just process it right there. So, and then the reds are actually about an hour south, of course for the Merlot and the Cabernet and Paso Robles. Okay. 

[00:08:42] Bianca Harmon: Yeah. But they’re all bringing it to the same winery, correct? 

[00:08:45] Kristen Barnhisel : We have two different wineries actually. Oh, you do? We do, yeah. Yeah. So the whites are process, you know, are brought in and pressed righting the heart of the vineyards. We have the winery right in the center of the vineyards there in Arroyo Seco. and then the reds are actually, crushed down in, Paso Robles about an hour south where, you know, Bordeaux varieties and Rhone varieties grow a little better in that warmer climate.

[00:09:06] Drew Thomas Hendricks: Oh yeah. No, I like that. I like the argument for keeping the winery next to the vineyard. Cuz we’ve been hearing a lot on the show of that Winery’s trying to consolidate in like a central location and trucking all of them. 

[00:09:17] Kristen Barnhisel : Yeah. Oh, yeah. Yeah, and for us, yeah, just for wine quality, we wanna keep for all the grapes that we manage.

You know, we’re proud to be, especially for the white wines to be growing, everything that, we crush and to be produced and bottled by J. Lohr. So, it’s all ours. It’s all, we have control of the vineyards. We can bring it right into the winery and have that highest quality fruit that we’re looking for.

[00:09:37] Drew Thomas Hendricks: Yeah. And we’ve got a fantastic lineup that you’ve set up for us today. I’m really excited to jump into it. 

[00:09:43] Kristen Barnhisel : Yeah, me too. Yeah. 

[00:09:44] Drew Thomas Hendricks: What’s the first one on the list here? 

[00:09:46] Kristen Barnhisel : Yeah, so we’re looking, this is our 2021. Here, I have it here in the glass too. The 2021 Flume Crossing Sauvignon Blanc that we’re sharing today.

This is great from Arroyo Seco. 2021 was a very cool vintage I will say. The coolest in about a decade for Arroyo Seco you know, we tend to be a cold region one in terms of climate. And it was the coolest since like 2012. Yeah. it’s a hundred percent Muscat clone, so we get that nice kind of grapefruit, key lime, passion fruit, a little bit of guava.

We usually do about 10 picks of handpicked and machine picked for this wine. Oh. And bring it into the winery. yeah. 

[00:10:24] Drew Thomas Hendricks: Definitely picking the guava. 

[00:10:28] Bianca Harmon: This is my favorite style of Sauvignon Blanc. Very crisp, refreshing. Easy to drink. How many cases are you making of this one? 

[00:10:36] Kristen Barnhisel : Thank you.

We’re making about 15,000 cases of that. Wow. Yeah. it retails for, about $14. Oh, okay. Yeah, yeah. but yeah, so we, bring that in. We really like it nice and fresh, so we do about 70%, stainless to keep that freshness. And then 30% is acacia wood. So, and not many people use. Interesting. It really comes from that finish really comes 

[00:11:01] Drew Thomas Hendricks: Talk to me about that an Acacia Barrel. Now, does it look like a stupid question, an oak barrel? What is the 

[00:11:08] Kristen Barnhisel : No, that’s a very astute question actually. it doesn’t, it’s a very different type of wood. It’s a much lighter, I would say, yeah, more like pine or something. It’s a much lighter-colored wood.

And it actually, it’s very difficult to toast. I do know that, you have to warm it gently. It has a tendency to potentially burn very quickly, and it has a tendency to crack. It’s a little bit drier style of wood, but we found a really good cooper that works very well with it.

you know, we still use 59 gallons. We still use punch-ins as well at 132 gallons to ferment in. But not very many wineries use it. But it’s beautiful. a light toast. So there’s essentially no toast. but it’s just really bringing that texture through, by the nature of the wood 

[00:11:47] Bianca Harmon: I have not known why you use that 

[00:11:49] Drew Thomas Hendricks: What other kind of, like phenolics and aromas does Acacia wood bring to the table versus oak?

[00:11:55] Kristen Barnhisel : It tends to just really heighten the aromatic profile. So, a lot of that white floral, that yellow floral kind of nature that comes out. 

[00:12:03] Bianca Harmon: It doesn’t give it that oakiness either that oaky taste when people. 

[00:12:07] Kristen Barnhisel : No, no, it’s really not that. It’s not vanilla, it’s not lactone coconut. It’s just really this light, really delicate touch, which we found the roofs really well for aromatic whites.

[00:12:18] Drew Thomas Hendricks: That’s fantastic. It actually, Yeah, I have learned something. I’ve been tasting and drinking wine for three decades and I think this is the first conversation I’ve had on Acacia Wood. 

[00:12:28] Bianca Harmon: Great. I’ve never heard of it, and I’ve worked in lots of wineries, so 

[00:12:32] Drew Thomas Hendricks: Is Acacia Wood always been part of the program or is that something new that you get brought to the table?

[00:12:38] Kristen Barnhisel : it’s been here since at least 2013. Here at J. Lohr yeah. Predates me actually. I think we had a Cooper that, approached Jeff Meyer before me and said, hey, you should try some Acacia. We have some Acacia. You should check it out. Maybe given an experiment. So, we did and really liked the results. 

[00:12:56] Bianca Harmon: And cost-wise too, it’s probably much more affordable.

[00:13:00] Kristen Barnhisel : It is, it is. It’s still French Cooper. it’s French acacia, so, but it is for sure cheaper than, French barrels. Yeah. 

[00:13:07] Drew Thomas Hendricks: Now this comes from France, is that is acacia widely used in France and we just don’t? 

[00:13:13] Kristen Barnhisel : I don’t know, actually. I’ve, had one conversation with the French winemaker that did actually but, I don’t know widespread Yeah, in France, how much it’s used. But I think it’s beautiful. I love what it does with this fruit. 

[00:13:27] Drew Thomas Hendricks: It’s so cool. Yeah. 

[00:13:29] Kristen Barnhisel : This is lovely. Thank you. Thank you very much. How’d you like it? What a fun grape to work with. so Blanc, it really takes its time during the season, but then it finishes so fast, in terms of like ripeness and so we’re pick, we’re checking it every day at that point to make sure, like, okay, we gotta pick it today and keep that acidity and fresh.

[00:13:48] Drew Thomas Hendricks: Absolutely. Now you’re just, wrapping up as we talked, and appreciate you’re just wrapping up the last of the harvest this year. Yes. Today, how has 2022 been as far as growing conditions, warmth, and 

[00:13:59] Kristen Barnhisel : It’s very good. I would say a unique vintage. Well, how so? I think a lot of would say that, for us in a row, Osako, it was very, very cool, like on track with, I would say last year, which I was saying was the coolest in the decade.

Very cool. Very cool. Until we all got that heat wave at the beginning of September, and that was 10 days of just heat, and then that popped like the Sauvignon Blancs for sure in our early Chardonnays, even, pretty fast. And then it cooled down again after those 10 days. Then it cooled down. So very, I guess just unique.

I think we picked some early stuff and then kind of waited a little bit. We actually uniquely took a week off of harvest to let things ripen as they normally would. Our usual harvest is the month of October if you cannot. And so Oh, 

[00:14:43] Bianca Harmon: Interesting coz Napa is harvesting, usually they’re whites in August.

Like August, September. So I was sitting here listening to you to say October, and I’m like, Wow. That’s really late. I feel like to be harvesting whites but you’re on the coast, you’re on the Monterey, 

[00:14:58] Kristen Barnhisel : We’re on the coast, yeah. And being south of Monterey Bay, we actually get the wind during the growing season, about 20 miles an hour coming down the valley and that in the Salinas Valley, and that actually shuts down the vines.

So, we are typically like three weeks later than a lot of areas, at least, in terms of ripeness, just because the vines shut down for protection from that wind. And so, we get a little bit longer hang time. We get higher acidities from that and we get better textures, in the wines from that.

But really, yeah, usually October’s our month. So even to be finishing today is a little early. It is, yeah. For this season. Yeah. And like most places have seen, I think, we are a little bit lower yield, I think, and I think that’s been probably all over California, but we’re seeing a little bit lower yield this year in the whites in general, probably due to the weather that we had during bloom time, which was that very cool and windy weather, you know, back in April and May.

[00:15:51] Drew Thomas Hendricks: Yeah. It’s everybody I’ve talked to, it’s been an unusual vintage across the board. California, even in Oregon where they lost most of their crop in the Willamette Valley for right at bud break. 

[00:16:02] Bianca Harmon: Oh my God, that was crazy. 

[00:16:04] Kristen Barnhisel : So sad. Yeah, you know, just right at the beginning, yeah.

[00:16:08] Bianca Harmon: Yeah. Well it was interesting cuz, I mean, even here we had hail then and I just kept thinking, oh no, this is gonna be terrible. Oh. And I saw what happened in Oregon and then Oregon ended up having like heat waves even longer than California did. And I was like, oh my gosh. 

[00:16:26] Kristen Barnhisel : Such a crazy year for sure. Okay.

I’m very grateful for what we brought in house. It’s kinda like, this is what we got really good high acids, you know? Yeah. It’s gonna be a nice Burgundian style of. 

[00:16:45] Drew Thomas Hendricks: Let’s see what’s next on list? We’ve got the J. Lohr Gesture. 

[00:16:49] Bianca Harmon: Yes.

[00:16:50] Kristen Barnhisel : Is that correct? Yes. It’s the gesture. RVG. Yes, the 2021, so 2021. Great. So kind of, dovetailing off the conversation we were just having on Frost. Yeah. I think we had one frost there last year, but for sure this year, in 2022, we’ve seen frost out there.

This comes from, the Adelaide district, so far Western, Paso Robles. And, we do have some lime nice limestone soils out there that do beautifully with these Rhone varieties. So these are actually picked and then brought up to the Greenfield winery from our vineyards there.

It’s an hour, an hour and 20. No, it’s to bring the grapes up there. So they’re picked in the early morning and most of this blend, the backbone is Roussanne. and then about 35% Grenache Blanc to give it some nice freshness and that green apple flavor. And then just a top hat as we say, of about, 10% is viognier just for that nice, plural peach.

[00:17:45] Bianca Harmon: Tell us about the Roussanne. I don’t feel like a lot of people, a lot of wineries are using Roussanne that much period. 

[00:17:54] Kristen Barnhisel : They don’t use a lot of it. I don’t think. Yeah, I really like it for its neutrality and the honey doo and honey flavors and really the texture. So, it’s kind of starting this wine with the texture and then backing into, you know, the highlighting the acid, highlighting the fruit component.

So, but the first thing is kind of texture for this one. 

[00:18:14] Drew Thomas Hendricks: You can definitely, the honey comes out on the nose. It’s a great smelling Roussanne. I drank a lot of northern rooms and yeah, this is very good. 

[00:18:23] Kristen Barnhisel : Wow. Thank you. Thank you very much. And maybe another new thing we found a few years ago also these, kind of polytechs. that we purchased about 260 gallons. These kinds of square tanks but they have, as poly tanks, poly tanks actually have less permeability than a neutral barrel. So we get like the texture from things that ferment in there from the larger volume than a barrel.

But then it actually really retains the freshness because it’s not the oxygen permeability last. So, part of this is that, you know, that we really appreciate. And then again, we also augment it with acacia wood and French. 

[00:18:59] Bianca Harmon: Oh really? I was gonna ask if you used Acacia in this as well. We do 

[00:19:03] Drew Thomas Hendricks: Pure fruit. I mean, there’s not a lot of wood aromas coming off, at least up from what I’m taking in right now. 

[00:19:08] Kristen Barnhisel : Yeah, no, we tend to use very neutral, maybe three- and four-year-old wood that goes into this blend. So yeah, just pick out the best of the best. For this blend. it’s only a couple hundred cases, that we make here. So. 

[00:19:20] Drew Thomas Hendricks: Yeah. Talking about your white wine program, when you came on board in 2015 versus 2022. How has the program evolved? Like, what sort of impact have you put on the 

[00:19:32] Kristen Barnhisel : I would say, stylistically it’s little shifts. I mean, I like, to liken it just, you know, like, guiding a shift, you know.

So 9,000 tons generally. Is what we do. 500,000 cases. Okay. Most of it, of course Chardonnay, but the changes that I made have been little, you know, the little tweaks in the types of yeast we use and the little tweaks of the type of the barrels we use and just making sure that we’re getting the right fruit on the right bar, you know, the right fruit on the right oak.

Sure. For acacia, and again, just like you know, maybe switching things a little bit at five degrees. I think overall, I look toward better. I’m looking for, like you’re saying, better integration of oak so it just augments what the wine already is and it’s not, you know, sticking out like, oh, I get oak on this.

Yeah. Something that really augments the flavor profile and works like integrated within it and also a little bit more precious, a little bit more kind of higher acidity.

[00:20:26] Drew Thomas Hendricks: Sure. A little more refinement cause it’s always you come into a program and you don’t want to just come and go, oh, I had to overhaul that from the start.

No, no. Sometimes it’s really rewarding just to like, well, that’s where you need your skill set to add that final polish to add just those little nuances, like you said, to guide that ship that’s already going in the right direction. 

[00:20:44] Kristen Barnhisel : Exactly. Exactly. Well, and for the consumers too, of course, they don’t wanna pick up a bottle and be like, oh, this wasn’t what I had last time.

So there Yeah, it’s I’m gonna tweak it a little bit. 

[00:20:54] Drew Thomas Hendricks: It’s preserving that house style and yeah, exactly. And house style’s pure fruit. That’s the way I’ve always described it just really nice, pure clean fruit, great body with it still has some acidity. 

[00:21:05] Kristen Barnhisel : Yeah. Yeah. Some real freshness on the finish.

It’s getting that, you know, kind of sculpting that any tannin that might come through. It’s kind of getting that balance right for the texture and the tannins that come through and the acid, just trying to get that balanced. 

[00:21:18] Bianca Harmon: And you guys are a certified sustainable winery, I see too. 

[00:21:22] Kristen Barnhisel : We are. All of our whites carry that seal. We’re very excited. Yes. 10 years in certified and in 2020 we run the green metal award. Oh, that I’m very proud of that. Yes, from CSW and so very proud to carry that forward. Yeah.

[00:21:38] Drew Thomas Hendricks: Green Metal Award.

[00:21:40] Kristen Barnhisel : The Green Metal Leader Award is Green Leader It’s for the California Sustainable Wine Growing Alliance has one winery that they choose, each year that best represents, the sustainable nature of our industry and all the efforts that we’ve done. And it has to do not only with, for sustainability, not only the taking care of the environment as we kind of think of it, there’s also a, I would say a community aspect to that.

That is, how do you work with your neighbors? What kind of philanthropic things do you do and how do you take care of your employees? There’s that aspect too and then economics as well. So kind of the three E’s they call it off, sustainability, to carry that forward.

But all of those components and then it was really, it’s really a huge honor that J. Lohr got that green medal award in 2020. It really is a leader in sustainability in the industry. Yeah. very excited for that. 

[00:22:29] Drew Thomas Hendricks: I have to say, I’m gonna be drinking a lot more of this. I drink a lot from Paso, we’re big fans of Tablos Creek and I’ve got Roussanne from there all the way back.

And it’s actually my wife’s go-to for when we have white wine. So this is a great expression of Adelaide Roussanne. 

Oh, thank you. Thank you much. 

[00:22:48] Bianca Harmon: No, it was fantastic. 

[00:22:50] Kristen Barnhisel : Thank you very much. I’m glad you like it. 

[00:22:52] Bianca Harmon: I’ve actually been wanting to go to J. Lohr for years, so I was really excited when you guys were coming on.

That’s great. Thank you. I’m glad to hear it. Yeah. 

[00:23:02] Drew Thomas Hendricks: Let’s see. So we’re shifting to the Chardonnays now.

[00:23:06] Bianca Harmon: And we’re starting with the Riverstone? 

[00:23:08] Kristen Barnhisel : And let’s start with the Riverstone Chardonnay. Yes. This is, here we go, with the 2021 Riverstone Chardonnay, just a sidelight, which is so Riverstone’s parking to the Arroyo Seco river stones that are in the soil about six feet down in Greenfield.

They’re cobblestones that force the vines to grow deep and keep the vines in balance. So just a little background on that in the Arroyo Seco area. Okay. And yeah. Yeah. So this is actually night harvested. We bring this fruit in at night and early morning. We have about 10 different clones that go into this wine as you might imagine, clone four, clones four and five, which kind of for chardonnay as ubiquitous throughout California. The basis and then we’ve feathered in now, several, like the Dejon clones, we have several blocks of clone 96 and 95 and 96. and then in more recent years we have the Robert young clone, Clone 17.

And this last year, was the first year that we actually included a little Mount Eden as well from here in the Santa Cruz mountains. So very excited to have all those 10 clones building those layers into the wine. 

[00:24:14] Bianca Harmon: So there is a little bit of a malolactic. fermentation done on this one. 

[00:24:18] Kristen Barnhisel : This wine is about 70% through malolactic. Is it? So we like that little bit of creaminess, but again, working with the fruit. So we kind of get more of a peaches and cream or orange cream kind of flavor. 

[00:24:31] Bianca Harmon: Yeah, I can definitely taste it on this one. 

[00:24:35] Drew Thomas Hendricks: There’s also and for lack of a better word, there’s a little bit of a spiciness to it.

[00:24:39] Kristen Barnhisel : And I think, yeah, the oak spiciness is coming through there too. We’re about 20% new oak, and most of that’s American Oak And about most of it’s like American Oak, a little bit of Hungarian, and a little bit of French. 

[00:24:51] Bianca Harmon: I was gonna ask, have you guys used any Hungarian? 

[00:24:53] Kristen Barnhisel : we do. We do. It’s a great tweener kind of barrel.

I love what it does, I think comes across as some of the aspects of the American Oak, a little bit of that sweetness, but then kind of the baking spot, baking spices like a French. So it’s kind of a little bit of each, which turn comes out really well. 

[00:25:08] Bianca Harmon: Yeah, this is good. I definitely taste the bake-like baking spice flavors on this one. 

[00:25:14] Kristen Barnhisel : Oh, fantastic. Fantastic. Yeah. So, we’re a hundred percent, barrel fermented. All of the lots come are night harvested, and then, barrel ferment, you know, up until seven months, eight months, and we also use about six different types of yeast.

That’s another way we build layers into the Chardonnay program. And always doing a yeast trial every year and a cooper trial every year to make sure that we’re getting the right yeast. Oh yeah, kind of, to work with our fruit and work with the program. And the coopers too, you know, with, you know, working with Coopers, we wanna make sure that they’re still, we evaluate them every year to make sure that they’re still matching the wine and matching the program or maybe do some slight tweaks there to work with them on what they might recommend for our fruit, knowing our fruit very well. But we typically, yeah, we typically get this nice stone fruit and, ripe citrus for the Arroyo Seco and just try to augment that in the wine. 

[00:26:04] Bianca Harmon: So being a white winemaker, what would be your favorite grape varietal to work with?

[00:26:09] Kristen Barnhisel : I love working with Chardonnay, you know, that I really do. Yeah, you know what, it’s a perfect pallet. It’s a perfect canvas to work on where you get to bring in the grapes. We have some handpick, some machine pick, and then just look at what we can do in terms of, the different barrels that we use and the different yeast that we use to kind of craft it.

[00:26:29] Bianca Harmon: So Chardonnay’s a very versatile grape. 

[00:26:32] Kristen Barnhisel : It really is. It really is. So you can kind of like, you know, just, oh, I’ll use a little bit of this and I’ll use a little bit of that in terms of flavor profile. So yeah, just augmenting things. Yeah, yeah. Yeah, it’s very fun, and working with malolactic, non-malolactic, we do have a about four different malolactic strains too, that we work with.

So, yeah, I think there’s a lot you can do to craft, 

[00:26:52] Drew Thomas Hendricks: Just to add to all these layers. 

[00:26:54] Bianca Harmon: Well, cause I mean, I feel like it’s all about the layers. Yeah. Yeah. For a while there, you know, I mean, even me personally, just because I’m not one of those style drinkers turned away from Chardonnay cuz they were all making ’em so buttery and it was like you’re taking away from the beauty of the chardonnay grape, when you’re doing the heavy malolactic fermentation on ’em, that there’s so many beautiful flavors in Chardonnay. 

[00:27:18] Kristen Barnhisel : It’s really lovely. Yeah. You get the apple and the pear. Yeah, the little white floral Meyer lemon, you know? Yeah. You get all these different layers and fruit.

[00:27:26] Bianca Harmon: Yeah. But there is the big buttery chard love, you know, for those lovers too, you know, so it can go either way. It’s just, it’s beautiful. 

[00:27:35] Kristen Barnhisel : This is a real, yeah. We’re trying to strike a balance here of saying like, okay, we’re gonna respect the fruit and just have a little bit of creaminess on, you know, for the malolactic.

Yeah. So just not overwhelmed, like that’s the only thing you get. 

[00:27:46] Bianca Harmon: Right. This is great. 

[00:27:47] Kristen Barnhisel : Thank you. Thank you. I’m glad you like it. It’s very fun to make it, you know, and, we don’t even force the malolactic, we do inoculate 70% of the seller, and then see if, you know, as far as they go, if they, you know, stop fermenting and, it’s tasting a little tired, we’ll go ahead and solve for it.

So there is that freedom too, to kind of say like, okay, well this is the year we’re given. And it’s, you know, kind of look at what we’ve gotten the seller and say, yep, that’s good for this year to match the program. So yeah. 

[00:28:13] Drew Thomas Hendricks: Worse in the wine where it doesn’t wanna go.

[00:28:15] Kristen Barnhisel : Yeah. Yeah. I think that’s, you know, as I go through my career, there’s a lot more like that that’s just, I would say more in intuition that is like understanding, okay, this is what this lot can do like understanding this vintage and saying, okay, this is what we got for this vintage. And maybe it’s because being farmers, you just kinda say, okay, this is what we got.

We’re gonna try to make the best of it. 

[00:28:36] Bianca Harmon: I wanna ask you, before Drew and I were talking about this earlier, about the different corks on your bottles. 

[00:28:43] Kristen Barnhisel : Oh, yes.

[00:28:44] Bianca Harmon: Each one has a different cork and kind of curious about like you know, what made you decide that, why you’re using certain wines with certain wines, or if there is even a reason behind it?

[00:28:56] Kristen Barnhisel : Of course, we wanna use the best for all of our wines, but all of ’em, you know, getting toward lower TCA, I think at the end of the day, we’re looking for very clean corks. for something like the diam on the RVG that you can see, guaranteed, you know, the, no TCA on those, on those, corks, but also just the option for that.

And I would say also the Arroyo Vista, the corks that we chose for that to be able to, age those even, you know, five years or more as a possibility. I think those are those reasons for those choices.

[00:29:27] Drew Thomas Hendricks: Does the diam 10, does that mean that it can age 10 years or is that just the level of the, 

[00:29:32] Kristen Barnhisel : I think it’s the level of the oxygen permeability. 

[00:29:35] Drew Thomas Hendricks: I was talking to another winemaker about that. First, you see compressed cork, but then you realize there’s a lot of serious technology going into this.

[00:29:42] Kristen Barnhisel : Exactly. Exactly. And again, to guarantee that lack of TCA on that’s very, well, again, we only do 200 cases of that, so it’s very important that on the one we just drank, we only do, oh, can we just, yeah, the RVG, the 

[00:29:56] Bianca Harmon: 200 cases. I think that was one of my favorites so far. Oh, 

[00:29:59] Kristen Barnhisel : Thank you. I’m glad you like it. Very fun. 

[00:30:03] Drew Thomas Hendricks: Fantastic. Because I had a diam 5, so that would be 5% permeability. 

[00:30:08] Kristen Barnhisel : Yeah. So that gives you an indication of how tight that cork is letting in oxygen. So, and then for the Riverstone, we have a larger production on that, like 500,000 cases.

Oh, wow. still looking for a good cork and the lack of TCA, those are actually, I do know those are fully recyclable too, those corks as well. So 

[00:30:28] Drew Thomas Hendricks: A hundred thousand. This wine tastes more boutique than 500,000. 

[00:30:33] Bianca Harmon: Yeah, I’m shocked that it was 500,000. I was like, whoa. 

[00:30:38] Kristen Barnhisel : Thank you. We have our crew that comes in, you know, not only do we, barrel ferment, we have this amazing crew that comes in. We do weekly, lister by hand. All the barrels, all the 26,000 barrels in house. So, yeah, it’s a lot of handwork goes into that in terms of decisions for picking, in terms of barrel fermentation and tracking things, and then stirring all the barrels, keep it fresh.

[00:31:02] Drew Thomas Hendricks: We have a second chardonnay here. I t’s the Arroyo vista? 

[00:31:05] Kristen Barnhisel : Yeah, this is the Arroyo Vista. 

[00:31:08] Bianca Harmon: Yes. 2020. This was your, certified sustainable winery winner a year. 

[00:31:14] Kristen Barnhisel : Yes, exactly. Very special bottle and a very special year. Yeah. I left the label on this one. Thank you. That was actually shortly after we redesigned it.

I think that was, oh, really? I think 2018 or 2019 we redesigned it. So, yeah. 

[00:31:30] Bianca Harmon: Yeah. I like the simplicity of it, I like it. Very classic, simple. 

[00:31:36] Kristen Barnhisel : Thank you. Thank you. I think, and just that neutral green, just very nice classy. Yes, messy hunter, green kind of color. Yeah. So, the grapes for this one we are shifting a little bit.

This is, our ode to burgundy, this is our reserve Chardonnay. And, all the grapes for this are handpicked actually and brought to the winery in, you know, early morning. And then this is fermented entirely in French oak for about 14 months. 

[00:32:00] Bianca Harmon: And what’s the malolactic on this one? It’s a little bit higher.

It’s about 80, 85%, still trying to let that brioche apple, baked apple kind of come through the big pear. 

[00:32:13] Drew Thomas Hendricks: As soon as you said brioche, I was thinking this is brioche.

[00:32:21] Kristen Barnhisel : That’s exactly so that’s what we try for. 

[00:32:25] Bianca Harmon: And what’s the case production on this one? 

[00:32:27] Kristen Barnhisel : This is about 10,000 cases. These come at actual six packs. six pack cases. 

[00:32:32] Drew Thomas Hendricks: This is very Burgundian 

[00:32:35] Bianca Harmon: Yes. Ooh. It’s got a very beautiful finish on it. 

[00:32:39] Kristen Barnhisel : Just tried a nice fresh, clean finish. Yeah. 

[00:32:41] Bianca Harmon: Yeah. Wow. Like the finish was very nice. 

[00:32:45] Kristen Barnhisel : I’m looking for something that can really go well with food, with, you know, food dishes, more of that kind of little Meyer lemon. Meyer lemon, ripe apple. 

[00:32:55] Bianca Harmon: I mean, I would drink this with my chicken soup. I mean, I make a lemony chicken noodle soup. I’m like, love that.

[00:33:01] Kristen Barnhisel : Actually, that sounds great for dinner tonight. 

[00:33:08] Bianca Harmon: I was actually considering making that, so maybe now we need to got a bottle of wine to finish. 

[00:33:13] Kristen BarnisBarnhisel hel: Perfect.

[00:33:15] Bianca Harmon: Yeah. No, this is great. And so did you kind of, being that this is like the ode to Burgundy, were you a pusher in this one? Was this around before you, I know you love your French burgundy wines or, 

[00:33:30] Kristen Barnhisel : Yes, both. It was around before me and, just little tweaks along the way, just again, a little bit fresher, a little bit, probably less oak impact, less obvious oak.

So, but definitely my inspiration really comes from Burgundy. From somebody like, like Lale, you know, just kind of, looking toward the old world as inspiration. Definitely. That’s definitely like that crisp, that freshness, even though you have malolactic, you still have that kind of linearity and freshness through the mid palette is what I’m looking for.

[00:34:01] Bianca Harmon: Absolutely. Could you guys have just a white wine club? 

[00:34:03] Kristen Barnhisel : We do. We do, we have several different levels. but we do have a white wine club, Of course a mixed, a white wine club and a red wine club. For those that really just want to enjoy those wines. Yeah. Yeah. This is great. Enjoy that at, you know, as we do. 

[00:34:21] Drew Thomas Hendricks: Talking about your white wine portfolio.

How many different, white wines do you produce a year? Like, what is the scope? 

[00:34:28] Kristen Barnhisel : So, of the other ones, we tried four of them today. of the other ones we produce, we also do a Riesling. Really nice crisp Riesling, semi-dry at like 1.8% RS, just stainless-steel fermentation. And then, we also do another chardonnay, which is October 9th. Chardonnay that is, about eight months, nine months in French Oak. And it’s clone 809, so it’s all masque, clone of Chardonnay. Oh. So if you like, you know, muscat clone of Chardonnay’s, you know, again, comes across more like vignette. and we just try to, you know, balance that out and give it some freshness and texture.

So, we have those wines and then occasionally if the year is right, we do, make a late harvest Riesling too. And, so we made one in 16 and 17 and 18, and then we made one in 2021 as well. so hopefully I think this year we don’t have the Petraeus to be able to do that in the vineyard, but hopefully that’ll come back around for 2023 then.

[00:35:22] Drew Thomas Hendricks: Yeah. So you can tell that this, the stage that you’ve got Petraeus or not? I thought it happens later. 

[00:35:28] Kristen Barnhisel : No, we actually can tell, I mean, this is when we would evaluate it in the vineyard. Okay. If we’re gonna keep vines, keep the grapes on the vines. We’re just picking everything.

Yeah. Yeah. So very exciting, we have the six, seven wines that, that we make and, just the attention to detail on each one, which is very fun. Oh, that’s good. We didn’t try one, if I could mention two, we didn’t, 

[00:35:47] Bianca Harmon: I was gonna say the Pinot Blanc. 

[00:35:49] Kristen Barnhisel : The Pinot Blanc, I know, yeah. To taste that today but we do have an F&G vineyard, French and Griva Vineyard, Pinot Blanc, which Pinot Blanc was one of the first grapes that Jerry got to work with, almost 50 years ago, here in Arroyo Seco and the Pinot Blanc actually is, we bring it in and handpick it, and it’s more Alsatian style. So it’s really, you know, lower sugar, lower an alcohol kind of style, and then we fermented in the concrete egg in an which is great to work with. It keeps the temperature nice and cool.

And then the concrete just really has this nice minerality that it brings to anything we put in there. So, 

[00:36:22] Drew Thomas Hendricks: Yeah. I love Pinot Blanc from concrete eggs. Yeah, me too. How long have you been working with the Concrete Eggs? 

[00:36:29] Kristen Barnhisel : They came in, in like, I think 2018. We received two of them. So one of them is dedicated for the Pinot Blanc.

And the other one is a clone 548, which is one of the Corton-Charlemagne clones of Chardonnay. And, that’s dedicated and that, does end up in the Arroyo Seco each year. So kind of thinking maybe at some point we might do like a DTC wine with that of Debonair Chardonnay to be like, oh, 

[00:36:52] Drew Thomas Hendricks: That would be amazing. Just would it be almost schuble kind of stuff. 

[00:36:56] Kristen Barnhisel : Exactly, yeah, also the handpick. And just, you know, fresh acidity with that ripe apple and light floral characters. Just, yeah, just beautiful, and again, just really the texture that comes from those 500 gallons of the egg is really great to match the acidity.

Very fun things to play with, you know, I hope, I wish you could have some more concrete eggs at some point.

[00:37:16] Bianca Harmon: I was gonna ask, are you using concrete eggs? They’re incredible. 

[00:37:19] Kristen Barnhisel : Yeah. Yeah, we’re using these two concrete eggs and I was hoping, well, I don’t know, we’ll see. Maybe we can get some more in the coming years.

I think that’d be very exciting. 

[00:37:28] Drew Thomas Hendricks: Demand for that style of wine is going to enable more and more wineries to start using it. I think there’s this like, there’s a push towards that cleaner kind of stonier style. 

[00:37:40] Kristen Barnhisel : And that comes from a year or two? 

[00:37:43] Bianca Harmon: And no, I was just gonna say, I remember when the winery I worked at years ago for Scott won and it was like, what is this?

And it’s like, it’s old technology, but new technology to Napa and because it’s been around for years and years, but it wasn’t used and it just gives this beautiful mineralization and crisp clean and fantastic. 

[00:38:07] Kristen Barnhisel : Just wonderful to work with and I appreciate that, at least for our seller too, it stays at 55 degrees, it stays this nice cool fermentation just naturally, you know, just, it’s great. You know, nothing’s happening in that concrete in terms of temperature, which is great. Again, that’s helping retain the aromas and, and acid there so. 

[00:38:25] Bianca Harmon: Do you use it on your Riesling at all? 

[00:38:28] Kristen Barnhisel : We don’t, but that’s a great idea. Maybe the next one I would love to try that. 

[00:38:31] Bianca Harmon: Oh my gosh, that would be great. It’s fantastic. 

[00:38:36] Kristen Barnhisel : I can only imagine just how that would seamlessly go with the flavors of Riesling. Yes. That would be beautiful, that would be beautiful. Yeah. yeah, I would love to try that. I have tried in the past, I have tried working with Fugeres.

I guess that’s another unique kind of, like the 900-gallon ovals. They’re just essentially not toasted or very lightly toasted on the inside. And those for Riesling or, or Pinot Blanc do very well too in terms of flavor profile, which is very fun to see. So yeah, there’s some fun experimentation in the future.

[00:39:07] Bianca Harmon: Yeah, yeah. Well, you’re at the place for it. 

[00:39:11] Kristen Barnishel: For sure. For sure. it’s a good match. 

[00:39:14] Drew Thomas Hendricks: Yeah. Well, this has been an amazing lineup here and Kristen, as I kind of wrap down, I always ask you like, over two decades, what keeps you motivated in moving forward and what are you looking forward to? 

[00:39:25] Kristen Barnhisel : I think looking forward to more experimentation, I think, maybe working with some new grape varietals, which would be really fun too.

Chenin would be beautiful. Yeah. and what we have, you know, in terms of fermentation vessels and exploring that, would be great. And, yeah, just training, you know, I’m at this point too where I’m training not my staff, but I’m a big believer in mentorship. Yeah. And actually on the mentorship committee for ASCV too.

So people that I come across, it’s like, I really get excited about watching, you know, sharing some knowledge and answering their questions and seeing what they learn. So I’m looking forward to continuing, you know, teaching that, and guiding this program. So, yeah. 

[00:40:03] Drew Thomas Hendricks: That’s awesome. That’s awesome.

Kristen, this has been such a great lineup. Well, people know where to find J. Lohr, but where can people find out more about you J. Lohr and these wines? 

[00:40:12] Kristen Barnhisel : Yeah. If they wanna check it, and, to find more information and order some wines, we also have this great, actually it’s good timing, the 18th of October.

We do have this great sweepstakes going on now for real Chardonnay. Yes, the grand prize is, winning two airfare tickets to Monterey, and a hotel stay, and then we’ll give them a tour of the winery and we’ll taste some things out of barrel. As well and the little gift card too.

So yeah, it’s a chance to do that. So on the main page of, you can enter, anybody can enter and, look forward to seeing you. And of course, if you guys wanna visit, if either one of you, Bianca or Drew wanna come visit, feel free to reach out. Let me know. 

[00:40:47] Drew Thomas Hendricks: I definitely will. I definitely, yeah, I definitely do. Passing through that way. We go up to big store all the time, so that’s, oh, great’s an easy chance to drive up. And then we continue on to San Francisco, so we’d be passing right by through there. 

[00:41:00] Kristen Barnhisel : Oh, that’d be great. That’d be great. Love to show you around. We get, some things that nice, some things outta barrel that are just finished up fermentation. That would be great. 

[00:41:08] Drew Thomas Hendricks: Oh, can’t wait. Kristen, thank you so much for joining us today. 

[00:41:12] Kristen Barnhisel : Great. Thank you. Thank you very much for inviting me. It’s a pleasure to meet you. 

Thank you, thank you. Thank you very much.