Melissa Stackhouse - Vice President Winemaking
Agriculture has played an important role in the life of Melissa Stackhouse. Growing up in a Michigan farming community, and having grandparents who were farmers in rural Minnesota, she became keenly aware of their dedication to the land at an early age.
“Their hard work resulted in many wonderful meals, cooked with the fresh ingredients straight from the farm,” says Stackhouse. “I developed an appreciation for fresh food from the garden, and it ultimately led to agriculture as a career choice.”
After spending some time in New Zealand working on organic farms, Melissa decided to pursue grape growing and winemaking. She enrolled in the University of California at Davis, where in 1998 she earned a Bachelor of Science degree in Viticulture and Enology. While earning her degree, and in the years following, she worked at such prestigious wineries as Robert Mondavi, Peter Michael, Joseph Phelps Vineyards, Sterling Vineyards, and Alexander Valley Cellars.
In 2003, she moved to Sonoma County to pursue her interest in Pinot Noir by becoming the winemaker at La Crema. It was there that she took notice of Sonoma County’s Russian River Valley and its distinctive soils, numerous clonal selections, and cool-climate vineyards. Melissa remained winemaker at La Crema until 2010 when she was named Winemaster for all Pinot Noir production at Jackson Family Wines.
In her role at J Vineyards & Winery, Melissa builds upon existing programs built around the nine Estate-owned vineyards. She also works to develop long-term relationships with key growers in the Russian River Valley.
“Each one of our vineyards has a unique personality,” she says. “We are digging deep into the soil to better understand and encourage the right expression of flavor for each estate vineyard. It is important to distinguish and separate these flavor profiles, whether it becomes a J varietal or sparkling wine.”