Jolie-Laide is a two-person operation based in Sebastopol. The name Jolie-Laide translates loosely to Pretty-Ugly, a French term of endearment to describe something that is unconventionally beautiful. Founded originally by Scott Schultz, and later joined by his partner Jenny Schultz, their winemaking method is simple: grapes are left whole cluster, foot crushed, and aged in neutral oak. All ferments are done with native yeasts, for both primary and secondary fermentations (no inoculation), and the musts tend to be low pH/high acid, allowing for no added SO2 at the press, and minimal at bottling (12-15 PPM free SO2 for the early drinking cuvees, 20-25 PPM free SO2 for bigger reds). They work with a handful of growers, all of whom farm organically (none certified); it is their ability to seek out spectacular vineyard sites which allows them to be hands off in the winemaking process.
Scott’s passion for wine was ignited when he moved to Napa from Chicago in 2007. Scott began his transition into the winemaking world after a move to Napa for employment as Wine Director at Thomas Keller’s Bouchon in Napa Valley. As he explains, “everyone I met was a winemaker, so on my days off I followed people around to see what they were doing." Before he knew it, he had secured the cellar master job at Realm Winery. That was followed by working with Arnot-Roberts, and then joining Pax Mahle in the same capacity working on the Pax and Wind Gap labels. Scott’s passion for winemaking grew so significantly that he decided to start his own project, Jolie-Laide, in 2010. To this day, he shares a winemaking space with Pax and several other like-minded producers in Sebastopol.
One feature to note – the labels change every year, featuring a different artist or art collective. “Our wines are a celebration of the year and seasons in which they are made, always unique and different, no two bottlings are ever the same.”
Scott and Jenny’s approach is a natural one, a less is more ethos. But their keen eye for finding great fruit from only sustainably and responsibly-farmed sites, coupled with an impressive natural talent, lead to consistently delicious wines. As Scott says, “The do-nothing approach isn’t new by any means; it’s just funny how far many have gotten away from it.” -- David Bowler