Summer crowds may be winding down for the season, but activity is picking up over at Jackson Hole Winery. The aspens are shedding more of their yellowed leaves by the day, while the snow line around the valley creeps to lower elevations. It’s harvest season.
Jackson Hole Winery’s winemaker, Anthony Schroth, walked us through the winemaking process. These days, there’s a lot of back and forth between Jackson and California for the JH Winery team. Every fall, the folks at JH Winery truck in 30 tons of grapes from five different California vineyards. Those 30 tons equate to 2,500 cases of wine. Before the grapes are picked, Schroth will measure the sugars and test the acids in the grapes, looking for balance, specific flavors, and the right tannins.
Upon being deemed ready for harvesting, JH Winery team members will begin long days of grape picking in California. Packed into the trucks, the grapes are driven back to Jackson, and crushing begins. Once the grapes have been crushed, they start the fermentation process. At high altitude, the fermentation process slows. The cool mountain temperatures preserve the wine’s aromatics, while in warmer climates the product would have to be cooled down.
Next, the grapes are loaded into a wooden basket press. Toward the end of this step, Schroth and his team are able to get a first taste of the product before it goes into barrels. The wine will spend around two years in the barrel. At JH Winery, their cellar is below 50 F most of the year.
So how did JH Winery come to be? Schroth went to college at Sonoma State, pursuing a marketing degree and playing baseball. Toward the end of his studies, he changed to a wine business concentration. He did multiple internships in California and caught the wine bug, going on to start his first label there. After acquiring a dearth of knowledge and experience, he sought out to make wine in Jackson, at 6,229 feet above sea level. He made his first batch of Jackson Hole Winery wine in 2009, with the Chardonnay being released in 2011.
Jackson Hole Winery is located on Creamery Lane, off of Boyles Hill Road. Prior to becoming the winery, the property was originally the Jackson Hole dairy. Visitors can enjoy a tasting at the Jackson Hole Winery property by appointment, from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., daily. In the warmer months, the tasting room is a 100-year-old barn with a patio on Spring Creek and picturesque valley views. Today, all the Jackson Hole Winery wines, eight in total, are medal winners. In three to four years, a port wine will become available. During the tasting, try pairing some of the red wines with one of JH Winery’s latest products: chocolates by the San Francisco chocolate factory.