Winery Blog

James Cole
January 8, 2024 | James Cole

Sleeping Beauties: Unlocking the Potential of James Cole Wines through Long-Term Aging

three bottles of wine.

Sleeping Beauties: Unlocking the Potential of James Cole Wines through Long-Term Aging

For our wine club members and seasoned collectors of James Cole, our wines are more than just a beverage. They're a silent promise – a treasure waiting to reveal their hidden depths with each passing year. Each bottle, crafted with meticulous care and sourced from our Estate and Napa's most coveted vineyards, possesses aging potential that far surpasses drinkability. They are quite literally sleeping beauties; wines meant to slumber through the years, evolving in to transcendent experiences far richer than their youthful forms.

Like any slumber, aging requires the right kind of dreamland. Whether storing in a high-tech wine fridge or a built-in cellar, a carefullly maintained environment of 55°F and 65% humidity is the perfect sanctuary for your liquid jewels, lovingly blanketed in a cradle of darkness until they're ready to be awoken from their rest. 

Chardonnay with a plate of food.

However, not all wines are created equal when it comes to aging gracefully. Some, like a swiftly written poem, are meant to be enjoyed in the flush of inspiration. Our dazzling Rosé, with its whispers of summer berries and vibrant acidity, begs to be uncorked under a cloudless sky. Similarly, our crisp Chardonnay, its palate a symphony of orchard fruits, hazelnuts and honey shines brightest in the moment.

A bottle of suede on a fur rug

But others, like a timeless masterpiece, possess the ingherent structure and complexity to weather the years, emerging transformed. At James Cole, bottlings such as Umbral, Mud's Kitchen and Suede are ideal for long-term aging, ready to evolve and delight you with their exquisite metmorphosis.

Mud's Kitchen bottle and glass being held at waist level by a person in a pink sweater.


This Napa titan is an enticing dance of sweet, decadent fruit. An enthralling mix of raspberry coulis and black currant jam weaves a playful core, brightened by bursts of pomegranate, cardamom, and delicate espresso/dark chocolate coffee beans. Plush tannins, graced with a dark mineral undertone, offer both structure and depth. Silky textures guide each sip, ensuring an experience of finesse and elegance that leaves a long, balanced finish and a lasting memory.


Exuding sophistication, this wine entices with notes of ripe strawberries, succulent black cherries, and tangy rhubarb velvet crumb cake. Subtle tones of vanilla and cinnamon weave a tapestry of gracefulness, while delicate hints of cocoa nibs add depth and allure. Each sip is a journey through layers of flavor, culminating in a velvety harmony that lingers long after, like a fond memory.

Suede bottle and glass sitting on a counter

SOLD OUT - 2019 vintage coming soon!

Appropriately named for its heightened texture, structure, and mouthfeel, our 2018 Suede was a masterclass in Napa seduction. Profoundly beautiful aromas of deep black raspberries, cassis, cocoa powder, and violets led to a full-bodied and juicy palate. Layers of spicy black licorice and blackberry jam characters swirled with the wine's signature silky velvety tannins, relished in a glass like luxurious suede textures. Sadly, this vintage is now a prized possession in collectors' cellars, but stay tuned for the highly anticipated arrival of the 2019 vintage.

Suede bottle and glass sitting on a counter

So, dear wine enthusiasts, as your collection sleeps, remember it's not simply bottles gathering dust. Within those silent vessles, time is weaving its magic, transforming fleeting flavors into whispered tales of terroir and vintage. Indulge in the patient pleasure of long-term aging – allow our James Cole wines to rest and witness the glorious awakening when the years have sculpted them into masterpieces.

A line up of James Cole Wine bottles

Each bottle, whether destined for a years-long slumber or a sun-drenched afternoon, speaks to the artistry and terroir that defines James Cole. So embrace the magic of both fleeting revelry and patient aging, and unlock the full potential of Napa Valley within your glass.

Shop All Wines

Time Posted: Jan 8, 2024 at 8:00 AM Permalink to Sleeping Beauties: Unlocking the Potential of James Cole Wines through Long-Term Aging Permalink
James Cole
October 30, 2023 | James Cole

The Making of Suede

Suede bottle and a glass of red wine on the bar at James Cole

The Making of Suede: A James Cole Winery Flagship Cabernet Sauvignon

James Cole Winery is proud to introduce you to our 2018 Suede Cabernet Sauvignon, our most selective and exclusive offering. Suede is the vision of our talented winemaker, Bertus van Zyl, who has spent years studying the unique flavor profiles of each vine in our vineyards. This passion for vineyard diversity and optimal ripeness has led to the creation of a wine with exceptional texture, structure, and mouthfeel.

Winemaking Process

To achieve Suede's signature velvety tannins and luxurious mouthfeel, Bertus uses a variety of maceration techniques, cooperages, and aging lengths. The wine is aged for 20 months in 100% new French oak barrels from top barrel producers, resulting in an extended range of flavors and aromas.

The back label of a Suede bottle with pumpkin decor around it.

Tasting Notes

The 2018 Suede is a remarkable vintage. It opens with aromas of deep black raspberries, cassis, cocoa powder, and violets. On the palate, it is full-bodied and juicy, with layers of spicy black licorice and blackberry jam flavors. The wine is highlighted by its silky velvety tannins, which give it a luxurious mouthfeel.

A person holding a James Cole wine box.

Production and Availability

Suede is a rare and noteworthy wine, with a production of just 125 cases (and 60 magnums). It is a flagship Cabernet Sauvignon that dazzles the senses and leaves a lasting impression. With fewer than 40 cases remaining, the 2018 Suede represents the ultimate expression in James Cole winemaking.

A Conversation with Winemaker Bertus van Zyl

To learn more about the making of Suede, we spoke with winemaker Bertus van Zyl.

What inspired you to create Suede?

I was inspired by the desire to create a wine that truly showcased the unique terroir of our Napa Valley vineyards. I wanted to create a wine with exceptional texture, structure, and mouthfeel, and I believe that Suede achieves this goal.

What are some of the challenges of making Suede?

One of the challenges of making Suede is that it is a very selective wine. We only use the best grapes from our vineyards, and we produce a very small quantity of wine each year. Another challenge is finding the right balance of maceration techniques, cooperages, and aging lengths. We want to create a wine that is both powerful and elegant, and it takes a lot of trial and error to find the right balance.

What makes Suede so special?

Suede is a special wine because it is a true expression of our terroir and our winemaking philosophy. We use the best grapes from our vineyards, and we take great care in crafting each and every bottle. Suede is a wine that is meant to be enjoyed and savored.

What do you hope people experience when they taste Suede?

I hope that people who taste Suede will experience the unique terroir of our Napa Valley vineyards. I also hope that they will appreciate the exceptional texture, structure, and mouthfeel of the wine. Suede is a wine that is meant to be enjoyed and savored, and I hope that it will leave a lasting impression on everyone who tastes it.

Watch the full conversation with James and Bertus here:

Time Posted: Oct 30, 2023 at 10:15 AM Permalink to The Making of Suede Permalink
James Cole
July 18, 2023 | James Cole

Elevate Your Summer: Create Memorable Moments with James Cole Wiery

Immerse yourself in the beauty of nature and elevate your outdoor experiences with the exquisite wines of James Cole Winery. As the warm summer sun graces us, we invite you to embark on a delightful adventure – bringing the elegance of James Cole wines to your own enchanting al fresco gathering. Join us as we guide you through the essentials of creating a memorable wine-filled experience, no matter where you are.

Chardonnay at a lake

Unveil the Perfect Setting

Discover the ideal location for your idyllic al fresco gathering. Whether it's a cozy spot in a nearby park, a picturesque beach, or a tranquil garden, let your surroundings complement the beauty of James Cole wines. Nature's embrace will provide the perfect backdrop for your extraordinary gathering.

A cheese and charcuterie setup

Craft Your Culinary Delights

Curate a delectable spread that harmonizes flawlessly with our wines. From artisanal cheeses to succulent charcuterie, from fresh farmers' market finds to decadent desserts, let your taste buds dance with delight. Take a moment to consider flavors that will accentuate the nuances of James Cole wines and elevate your gathering to new heights. When gathering with friends, we love to build our spread using the 'Rule of 3's' meaning 3 cheeses, 3 meats, 3 starches and 3 accompaniments:

Our favorite cheeses
Aged Gouda
Sharp Cheddar

Our favorite cured meats
Genoa Salami
Country Pate
Duck Rillette

Our favorite starches
Water Crackers

Our Favorite Accompaniments

A person opening Rosé on a blanket during summer.

Select the Perfect Wine Pairings

Enhance your al fresco experience by selecting the finest wines from James Cole Winery. Visit our warm and inviting tasting room, or explore our online store, where our exceptional collection awaits. Discover our renowned Cabernet Sauvignon and captivating red wine blends like IL Mostro, Marls and Tyson. Complete your selection with our refreshing Chardonnay and elegant Rosé. Each sip will transport you to the heart of Napa Valley.

As a special offer, stock up on our Taste of Summer 4-Pack, which includes one bottles each of '22 Rosé, '21 Chardonnay, '20 Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon and '20 IL Mostro Red Wine for 15% off!

Red wine in front of rose bushes

Embrace the Outdoor Experience

Settle into the serenity of your chosen setting and allow the magic to unfold. Set a comfortable space, arrange your culinary delights, and uncork a bottle of James Cole wine with anticipation. As you sip and savor, let the flavors mingle with the ambiance, creating an unforgettable symphony for your senses.

Two people with wine glasses smiling at the camera

Cherish the Moment

Engage in lively conversations and create lasting memories as you share the joys of wine and the company of loved ones. Let the spirit of James and Colleen, our visionary founders, infuse your gathering with a sense of warmth and connection. With every glass raised, you become part of their dream-come-true.

Wine on a wooden table

Extend the Pleasure

After your gathering, continue to explore the world of James Cole wines. Visit our tasting room or online store to discover additional vintages, limited editions, and exclusive offerings. Each bottle holds the essence of our Napa Valley heritage and the passion of our winemaking craft.

At James Cole Winery, we strive to make every moment extraordinary. As you embark on your own wine-filled al fresco gathering, let our wines be your trusted companion, elevating the ordinary to the extraordinary. Purchase James Cole wines from our tasting room or online store, and let the enchantment of Napa Valley unfold at your chosen setting. Enter as wine enthusiasts and leave as ambassadors of James Cole Winery, carrying with you the spirit of excellence and the memories of exceptional moments shared.

Time Posted: Jul 18, 2023 at 10:17 AM Permalink to Elevate Your Summer: Create Memorable Moments with James Cole Wiery Permalink
James Cole
June 2, 2023 | James Cole

Alice in Wonderland 2023

Last month, we stepped into a whimsical wonderland at James Cole Winery! 🎩🌹 From mad hatters to Cheshire grins, our Alice in Wonderland party was an enchanting adventure. 🐇🍷 We sipped on magic potions, danced with the Queen of Hearts, and fell down the rabbit hole of pure fun. 🌈🍾 Thank you all for joining us on this extraordinary journey! Until we meet again in Wonderland... ✨🌼

Time Posted: Jun 2, 2023 at 9:59 AM Permalink to Alice in Wonderland 2023 Permalink
James Cole
May 22, 2023 | James Cole

Lucy the Winery Truck

Lucy the Truck

We would love to introduce you to our gal Lucy. Lucy is our 1945 vintage Chevrolet truck; once a hardworking harvest truck, Lucy has become a symbol of simpler times and a testament to the early days of James Cole Winery.

Lucy was first spotted being driven through the valley with a “For Sale” sign in the rear window, and, having just moved to Napa to begin their new winery venture, James and Colleen just knew that she had to be theirs. Unfortunately after a few closely watched miles, they lost sight of her and the owner and accepted that maybe it wasn’t meant to be.

However, a mere few months later, fate played its mysterious part when James and Colleen spotted her being driven by the same gentlemen yet again. This time, they knew they had to commit and followed her all the way to the owner’s driveway! After hearing a little history of the truck and it’s role as a great companion for the the owner and his family, James and Colleen bought Lucy right there on the spot.

Lucy got her name affectionately from her few shortcomings: her brakes, transmission were a little “loosey-goosey”, however, she was still a reliable workhorse, stepping up for dump and Home Depot runs and hauling supplies to and fro.

Lucy has finally earned her retirement and sits on property as a monument to the early days of James Cole winery. She is a reminder of all the hard work and dedication it took to build our winery; a simpler time when life was all about chasing dreams.

We are proud to have Lucy as part of our history. Come on by the James Cole Tasting Room and see her in person soon.

Time Posted: May 22, 2023 at 9:00 AM Permalink to Lucy the Winery Truck Permalink
James Cole
April 18, 2023 | James Cole

Cellar Chats with James and Bertus

Cellar Chats with James and Bertus

Tune in for a special video featuring our winemaker, Bertus van Zyl, and owner, James Harder, as they discuss our new 2021 Pinot Noir sourced from the Sun Chase Vineyard in Sonoma County.

Located where the Petaluma Wind Gap meets Sonoma Mountain, the 40-acre Sun Chase Vineyard is sustainably farmed and perched at a 1,200 to 1,400 feet elevation on a southwestern-facing hillside above the fog line. The result is a Pinot Noir that truly showcases the best of Sonoma County.

With an aromatic bouquet of fresh dark berry preserves, potpourri, and pomegranate that builds as the wine opens up, this Pinot Noir is a complex offering that delivers outstanding depth, power, and finesse. On the palate, dark cherries and wild strawberries combine with minerals and a hint of Asian spice to create a velvety texture that is seamless with bright, crisp, mouthwatering acidity, elegance, and sensuality.

Don't miss out on this charmer and experience the excellence of our most complex Sonoma Coast Pinot Noir to date. Order now and taste the difference of James Cole Winery's Sun Chase Vineyard Pinot Noir.

Time Posted: Apr 18, 2023 at 1:35 PM Permalink to Cellar Chats with James and Bertus Permalink
James Cole
March 30, 2023 | James Cole

March Vineyard Update


March Vineyard Update

The long wait is over, and our winemaker Bertus expects bud-break in the next two or three weeks. While we patiently wait for the growing season to officially kick-off. We wanted to update you on what we have going on in the vineyard this spring.

As you might know, Napa Valley is renowned for producing some of the world's finest wines. Our region's unique terroir, climate, and soil provide ideal conditions for growing premium wine grapes. However, managing vineyards in Napa Valley is not without its challenges. To maintain the quality of the soil, control weeds, and promote biodiversity, we have turned to something called "cover crops" to plant amongst the vines.

The benefits of planting cover crops are numerous. For one, they help control soil erosion by reducing water runoff and increasing soil infiltration, which has been a blessing during these last few uncommonly rainy months. Cover crops also improve soil health by adding organic matter, fixing nitrogen, and improving soil structure. Additionally, they can suppress weeds, which reduces the need for herbicides and lowers production costs. Cover crops can also provide a habitat for beneficial insects and other wildlife, which helps to promote biodiversity in the vineyard ecosystem. 

For this year, we planted every other row with a variety of beneficial cover crop, made from this seed mix:

35% Forerunner Triticale
10% Cayuse Oats
12.5% Dundale Peas (flowering)
12.5 % Magnus peas (flowering)
5% Lana Vetch (flowering)
5% Purple Vetch (flowering)
3% Crimson Clover (flowering)
15% Brassica Blend (Mustards, Radishes) (flowering)

Forerunner Triticale is a hybrid grain that provides excellent ground cover and suppresses weeds. Brassica Blend, which includes a variety of brassica plants like mustard and radish, helps to break up soil compaction and improves soil health. Dundale Peas and Magnus peas are legumes that fix nitrogen in the soil, which can reduce the need for synthetic fertilizers. Overall, this mix of cover crops helps to promote soil health, reduce erosion, and promote biodiversity in the vineyard ecosystem, all while maintaining the quality of our grapes. It also makes our James Cole estate vineyard look beautiful during these early spring months.

Make sure to check back in a couple of weeks as we get ready to kick off the 2023 growing season.


Time Posted: Mar 30, 2023 at 12:00 AM Permalink to March Vineyard Update Permalink
James Cole
February 27, 2023 | James Cole

Q&A with James!

James Cole ❤️'s The Rolling Stones

It’s no secret we love The Rolling Stones, but have you ever heard the story of how we got our hands on an electric guitar signed by the band? 🎸

This month, we sat down with James to talk about his love for The Rolling Stones, how it's shaped James Cole Winery and more. Watch the full interview below!

Time Posted: Feb 27, 2023 at 1:00 AM Permalink to Q&A with James! Permalink
James Cole
January 18, 2023 | James Cole

Winter in the Vineyard

James Cole vineyard in January 2023

Harvest season often receives most of the glory, but we like to think that the winter season is one of the most beautiful and exciting times to visit Napa Valley and learn about our vineyards. Gone are the bustling crowds and long waitlists to taste at your favorite Napa winery. Instead, you'll find a serene environment perfect for an in-depth experience to learn about wine from how our grapes go from vine to bottle.


"The work in the vineyard doesn't end at harvest."

There is something hauntingly beautiful about grapevines in dormancy. The lush, leafy canopies of summertime have retreated, and we're left with dark and twisted trunks and bare canes, soaked from the season's rains. The vines offer a stark contrast to the vibrant greens and yellows from the cover crop growing between the rows. While it's true that the vine's growth above ground comes to a halt during the winter months, its root systems are busy soaking up nutrients, preparing for bud break in the spring.

The work in the vineyard doesn't end at harvest. In fact, winter pruning helps lay the groundwork for the upcoming growing season, determining how many buds will develop, and ultimately how many grape bunches the vine will yield. We'll begin this crucial step near the end of the month, trimming each cane down to the spur where this spring a new bud will form.


"they also help control pests, increase biodiversity and help with soil erosion."

Some of the most vital work in the vineyard is not what's happening on the vines, but rather, what's growing between the vines. Planted amongst the rows of vines on the James Cole estate are two kinds of peas, two kinds of vetch, crimson clover and marigold. The rest of the blend is oats and triticale, which is a barley/ryegrass hybrid. While these cover crops offer strikingly beautiful views as they bloom, they also have an incredibly important job to do.

Not only do these cover crops improve soil health by introducing nitrogen, but they also help control pests, increase biodiversity and help with soil erosion. California receives little to no rain for much of the year, and without the established root systems of our cover crops, the heavy winter rains could wash much of the topsoil away, resulting in compacted earth with little life. With the help of our cover crops, we're able to retain the rain we receive each year in our soils and limit the amount of watering needed later in the season.

Cover Crop

"exclusive wine offerings in the friendly, casual atmosphere of our tasting room"

Want to experience the magic of the season? Book a tasting today at James Cole and experience a tasting of exclusive wine offerings in the friendly, casual atmosphere of our tasting room and outdoor property. You'll learn about our Estate grown Cabernet Sauvignon and the inspiration behind our bold red wines such as Il Mostro, Aliento and Mud's Kitchen Cabernet.

Book a Tasting

Time Posted: Jan 18, 2023 at 12:00 AM Permalink to Winter in the Vineyard Permalink
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