More than a dozen years ago the McLoughlin family purchased over 300 acres of land south of Willcox, Arizona. The dry barren land was transformed through blood, sweat and tears into over 150 acres of beautiful wine vines that host 100 different varieties/clones including four of our favorite Pinotage spread across a total of 5.2 acres. This gives Jerome a production of approximately 350 cases annually. The Pinotage vines were sourced from California with the first planting being in 2007.
Winemaker John McLoughlin says he picks his Pinotage at 26 Brix. The three plantings are crushed, destemmed and pressed together and fermented in macrobins for 10-14 days using various yeasts which each contribute their own qualities and flavors. John explained that he uses a combination of French and American Oak barrels with Pinotage to create a wine that accommodates many discerning palates.
Being a devotee of Pinotage I found the Jerome Winery’s 2009 to be deep ruby in color all the way to the rim. The nose was full of red fruits with hints of plums and vanilla. The initial pour and taste brought black cherries and tight tannins. After a hour in the decanter this wine truly opened up with raspberries, cherries and pipe tobacco. The once tight tannins had settled down and provided a long smooth finish that had me holding out my tongue to get the last drop out of the glass.
Jerome Winery was John McLoughlin’s first line of handcrafted wines. The wine follows a more traditional way of winemaking, bottled mainly as specific varietal wines. Family members worked in the vineyard and helped plant the first grapevines. The family photos on the labels honor that tradition of family and independent family businesses with the Pinotage featuring John’s Great Grandfather Thumser from his mother’s side a World War One aviator.