Gott Style: The Value Wines of Joel Gott

There’s really no separating Joel Gott the winemaker and Joel Gott the wine brand. Joel Gott Wines manifest precisely-managed, blended winemaking based on superb fruit carefully chosen from his personal West Coast vineyard connections. Born, raised, and nurtured as the scion of a Napa Valley winemaking family, Joel is his family’s fifth generation in the business. His grandfather was winemaker at Inglenook and his father founded Montevina. Joel’s college was the winery, apprenticing after high school with Kenwood Vineyard’s winemaker Mike Lee.  

But his first business venture was retail, opening a gourmet food store that also sold wine. This direct contact with consumers allowed Joel Gott to comprehend the need for quality, fruit-based wines for sale under a certain value price point. The importance of these factors for consumer buying wine online across the country and the globe has not changed today. Soon after, in 1996, he and some friends bought Amador Zinfandel grapes and made the first Joel Gott wine. The 1997 Zin won rave reviews from multiple national wine critics, and from there Gott wines took off. Notably, Gott also later also opened a chain of casual California restaurants, all part of the Gott style.

Gott’s keen observation of the wine market, his retail and restaurant knowledge, and his deep connections and appreciation for quality grapes have helped define his winemaking. The results are truly impressive, especially with the prices of most 750 ml bottles at well under $20.00, wine you can buy online so easily. And accessibility is part of what Gott set out to achieve. Twenty-four years later, the Gott Wines ethos remains the same: “We are geared towards continuing to give our customers expressive and food-friendly wines at great prices.” In 2009, Gott partnered with Trinchero Family estates to enhance the availability and distribution of his food-friendly wines for “global sale.” The venture joined the winemaking skills of the Joel Gott Wines team with the market coverage of the Trinchero Family Estates sales force.

At the time, Joel Gott said: "We will continue sourcing quality fruit from growers with whom we have long-established relationships, and forge new relationships to make the best possible wine at an affordable price. This is a chance for us to focus even more than we have previously on the quality and style of our wines.”

He and his wife, winemaker Sarah Gott, also realized early on the value of blending as opposed to producing single-vineyard wines. This was a conscious and expressive choice. Gott has no fear on not following the single-vineyard trend, preferring to produce regional blends from selected fruit, the quality of which he knows personally. Gott currently has eighteen different wines available, though the number varies every year. This includes wines sourced from Oregon and Washington fruit. His 2018 Joel Gott California Pinot Noir is a good expression of Gott style. “We source fruit for this blend from vineyards within Santa Barbara County and Monterey, both part of the Central Coast AVA, because of its ideal growing conditions for creating the style of Pinot Noir that we like to make,” says Gott.

This includes, rather than single-vineyard expression, deciding to blend fruit from more than one site to express what he and wife Sarah early on decided would produce value-oriented, food-friendly wines. Coastal vineyards closest in the Santa Rita Hills appellation of Santa Barbara County experience cool, foggy mornings and warmer afternoons, bringing out well-developed flavors in the grapes, whereas the Monterey appellation typically has a longer hang time promoting even and slow ripening, which ultimately expressed “bright, fruit flavors and well-balanced acidity.”

Written by:

Charlie Leary


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