THE VISIONARY : JASON J. WILLIAMS
General Manager for Croix Estate, Jason Williams, has worked with Proprietor and Winemaker, Kirk Venge, at his namesake winery, Venge Vineyards, for eleven years. He began the Croix branding project in 2009, leading up to the first vintage bottling in 2012, and overseeing the acquistion and renovation of our Russian River Valley winery site, now home to Croix Estate.
"I have learned more about winemaking and the business of running a family owned winery in the last eleven years than I could have ever imagined. 21 years ago, I was fresh out of college with a dream and zero job prospects when I left Arizona for Napa Valley. It has been one hell of a journey. I look back fondly on my time with Merryvale Vineyards, Opus One, the Robert Mondavi Corporation, and Lancaster Estate; however, nothing tops my experience working with the Venge family. With the introduction of the Croix wines, I have brought all of my experience to the project, breathing life into an aesthetic that is worthy of the phenomenal wines Kirk Venge is now producing from Sonoma County."
Born and raised in Scottsdale, Arizona, a lively curiosity steered Jason toward wine and food during college, and he worked a number enjoyable positions - including sommelier - in several of Scottsdale's high-end restaurants during college. It was during his stint at the celebrated five-star, five-diamond Wigwam Resort, where he worked under sommelier and mentor, Steven Bailey, that Jason was captivated by the aura of wine.
"I had just turned 21 and was tasting through hundreds of the world's greatest wines. It was an incredible experience. Steven saw the passion I had for wine and invited me on a seven day tour of Sonoma County. I fell in love with wine country - the food, the wine, the people, the environment - it was a beautiful, intense lifestyle founded in farming. I determined on that trip that I would move to wine country upon graduation from college to one day run a winery."
It was during the spring of 2009 that Kirk Venge introduced the name "Croix" and a rough idea for property and an eventual winery in Sonoma.
"I remember the moment like it was yesterday. Kirk threw out this name and spoke of crossing the bridge between Napa and Sonoma and founding a 'Sonoma County heritage'. Ideas were all over the board for a solid two years. I had worked the Williams Selyem pick-up party a few years prior to joining Venge Vineyards, and recalled being blown away by the quality of the wines and the winemaking operation. That property is such a legendary benchmark for producing noteworthy Chardonnay and Pinot Noir, right on par with Marcassin, Dumol, Rocchioli, and Merry Edwards. From this thought, Croix slowly blossomed and came into focus - farm Chardonnay and Pinot Noir from the best vineyard locations throughout Sonoma County, building a family legacy of producing California's finest Chardonnay and Pinot Noir - hands down."