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Copyright © 2018
Forkmedia LLC


by Fred McMillin
for January 26, 2000


The Jade Crusade


Jade Mountain Winery proprietor Jim Paras obviously had been out in the hot vineyard sunshine too long without a hat. He had just bought a vineyard that supplied Cabernet Sauvignon grapes for the RESERVE wines of the Hess Collection and others. So when did he produce the first vintage of Jade Mountain Cab? Never! Would you believe...he tore 'em out and replaced them with Syrah.

The Rest of the Story

Jade Mountain Syrah The year was 1991. The 42 acres were located 1,200 feet up on Mt. Veeder, located in the hilly southwestern Napa Valley. The cool temperatures and thin soil produce small grapes with intense flavors.

By now you've guessed that San Francisco attorney Jim Paras loved the grapes of the Rhone Valley. Also, he hired Syrah-booster Doug Danielak, a winemaker who had spent time in eastern France. Together they not only converted the new Paras Vineyard to Rhone West, but also contracted for Syrah from Lee Hudson, the first grower to plant that grape in the Carneros district south of their own vines.

My panel just tasted the result, the 1997 Jade Mountain Syrah, two thirds from Veeder, one third from Hudson. Their opinion was summed up by S.F. State wine instructor Edgar Vogt: "Awesome!" Here it is.

1997 Jade Mountain Syrah, Napa Valley
Composition—Syrah, with just a tad of Viognier to expand the aromas and flavors.
Food—Doug, and wife Mary (of the legendary Oakville Grocery store...I remember our delight when MY wife and I stopped there in 1974, having no idea of the grand contents of the very modest structure. I've never heard anything but words of adoration about it since...but I digress.) Anyhow, Doug and Mary recommend lamb, hearty stews, or your favorite pasta dish with this red.
Contact—Jennifer Gould, (707) 254-4263, FX (707) 254-4203
Rating—Easily one of the very best California
Syrahs my panel met in the last 12 months. HIGHLY RECOMMENDED.
Price—$24 range.


Remington Norman's Rhone Renaissance sums it up this way. "Jade Mountain is a fine domaine, in exemplary hands. If Doug Danielak needed a confidence booster it came recently when Chalone took over Jade Mtn. marketing in the U.S. Let's hope there's some left for the rest of the world."


About the name Jade Mountain. Jim Paras' first vineyard was not the Mt. Veeder spread, but seven years earlier in Sonoma County. It was a 20-year-old vineyard in the Alexander Valley named the Jade Mountain Ranch. of course, the first change he made was to bud over the Riesling to...SYRAH!

About the Writer

Fred McMillin, a veteran wine writer, has taught wine history for 30 years on three continents. He currently teaches wine courses at San Francisco State and San Francisco City College. In 1995, the Academy of Wine Communications honored Fred with one of only 22 Certificates of Commendation awarded to American wine writers.


This page created January 2000