Where is JB Neufeld located?
I make wine out of the Gilbert Cellars winery just west of Yakima across from a small town called Wiley City. If you are ever in the area please feel free to stop by for a visit. I am also lucky enough to live right next to the winery so I can go home for lunch and play for a few minutes with my 6 month old son Max.
How did JB Neufeld begin and is that your full time gig?
Since the moment I became interested in wine I knew I wanted to start my own winery. As I learned more about viticulture and enology the more I became obsessed with the process, rather than the product. That’s the inspiration for me as a winemaker, perfecting the process. I would also have to say that my wife was the impetus behind getting our label started. I didn't know how I was going to pay for it or how to begin but my wife, Brooke, convinced me that we would find a way and to just go for it!
JB Neufeld is my side project and being the winemaker for Gilbert Cellars is my full time. I took the job as winemaker for Gilbert Cellars in August of 2007. Then in 2009, I took over management of the Gilbert Cellars' vineyards as well. Gilbert Cellars has been a wonderful opportunity for me to grow as a winemaker and work with a supportive and visionary family. They are as encouraging of JB Neufeld as my own folks!
How did the winery decide on the name "JB Neufeld"?
My wife and I brainstormed on names. We tried to get creative but hated everything we came up with. None of it was really us. I knew I wanted my last name as part of it, as homage to my Grandfather, even if no one can pronounce Neufeld! A little bit of the past and a little bit of the present, the J is for me, and the B is for my wife Brooke.
I love your label. Did you come up with the design?
Thanks, we love it too! No way did I design it though, I am not that creative! We are lucky to have talented friends, especially when starting a winery on a shoestring. My best friend’s wife, Kate Sundquist, designed the package and she did an awesome job!
What is the focus of JB Neufeld?
One of my favorite aspects about wine is how the same variety, made by the same person, in the same 'style', but from two different vineyards, can make two totally different wines. I really don’t like to use the word terroir, but I haven't come up with a better term yet… I will let you know when I do! This interest became JB Neufeld.
Usually I blend other varieties or fruit from different vineyards to create a more balanced and interesting wine. I try to fill in the gaps so to speak. However, when that happens the wine loses some of its uniqueness of place.
The focus of this project, JB Neufeld, is maintaining that uniqueness of place. It forces me to concentrate much more on the fruit than I might normally, in order to find its qualities and how to enhance them and make a more interesting wine. I am fortunate to source fruit from some of the best vineyards in Washington State, which makes this project that much more exhilarating and challenging.
When did you first start making wine?
I made a little bit, 2 barrels, during harvest of 2005 for personal use. My wife and I bottled it up and gave it away to the guests at our wedding.