In the wine trade since 1968, Jed Steele has owned and operated his own labels, Steele and Shooting Star Wines since 1991 where he continues to earn renown from his familiarity with and expertise at making world class Chardonnay.
As the winemaker for Kendall Jackson during the 1980's, Jed helped to shape the company and his identity as a maker of top-notch Chardonnays. Yet, after nearly a decade, Jed left Kendall Jackson and started his own venture in 1991 in order to make fine wines from select vineyards and reconnect to the entire winemaking process. As he says in one interview, "I really needed to be in closer contact with the wines." After all, Jed Steele's claim to fame is making great wine, not overseeing a conglomerate.
While Steele produces wines that feature other California varietals, such as Zinfandel, Pinot Noir, Syrah, and even Viognier, the Chardonnay grape remains a true shining star for Steele. In fact, Steele Wine's signature offering, Steele Cuvee Chardonnay, reflects Jed's remarkable gifts for blending and shaping a wine as he sources grapes from a number of established and well-respected vineyards across California, selecting each for the unique character of its grapes.
Carrying his interest to fruition in hand crafting excellent and distinct wines that reflect their terroir, Jed features seven single vineyard Chardonnays, of which the Lolonis Vineyard is considered the pinnacle of perfection. He produces only a limited quantity of these single vineyard offerings, but each is carefully nurtured through the entire winemaking process. Completely fermented in French oak barrels for eight to ten months and handled gently with limited filtration, each of Jed's single vineyard entries aims to reveal the elemental qualities of the vineyard's grapes and its terroir.
Under a separate label, Shooting Star, Steele really follows his interests as an innovative winemaker. While Shooting Star often produces great values of known varietals, such as Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot, Jed, also, uses the Shooting Star label to experiment with lesser known grapes, such as Aligoté, and to craft intellectually probing, eclectic selections.
Nestled in the Redwood Valley of Mendocino County 10 miles north of Ukiah, the county seat, Lolonis Vineyard holds several points of distinction. One noteworthy fact is that the Lolonis family has grown grapes in the Redwood Valley since 1920. Another is that beginning in the late 1950's the Lolonis family began farming organically long before it was a trendy practice. And the vineyard is among the first, if not the first, to be certified organic in California. A final point worthy of note is that Steele Wines has consulted and worked closely with the vineyard since 1991. Among the vineyards from which Steele selects Chardonnay, Lolonis is the warmest and typically produces peerless grapes that contribute hints of baked apple and cinnamon to Steele's classic Chardonnays.