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February 22, 2020
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From farmland to vineyard

  • Jeff and Judy James of James Family Vineyards.

By: Irene Hilsendager
October 4, 2019

Two young people, Jeff and Judy James, have farming and wines in their blood. They bought a piece of property in 1997 outside of Cotati and developed it into a beautiful acreage of grape vines that were planted in 1998 and harvested for the first time in 2000.

The James family is very tight knit with Judy being a fourth generation of a family to be involved in agriculture in Sonoma County.

The Jameses built a beautiful farmhouse on their country plot of land and raised two sons who both graduated from college. Robert attended Sacramento State and Matt went to San Francisco State and both are working on campuses from which they earned their degrees.

Jeff has been Financial Advisor at Merrill-Lynch, Santa Rosa for 25 years and holds professional designations of certified Financial Planner, retirement benefit consultant, certified plan Fiduciary advisor and Wealth Management Advisor.

Judy is the Public Affairs Director for Kaiser Permanente in the Sonoma-Marin area. She has held similar positions with Comcast, Republic Service, Clover Sonoma, has been an Adjunct Instructor at Santa Rosa Junior College and was Executive Director of the Sonoma County Farm Bureau.

Jeff is currently president of the Sonoma-Marin Fair Board, president of the Farm Bureau Foundation of Sonoma County’s Board and secretary of the Family Justice Center of Sonoma County Foundation. Jeff also formerly served as president of the Rohnert Park Chamber of Commerce and the Active 20-30 Club of the north bay.

Judy recently served as the Board Chair for the Santa Rosa Mentro Chamber of Commerce and currently sits on the board of the Redwood Credit Union, Sonoma County Alliance and Sonoma County Farm Bureau.

After winning several awards for amateur wines in 2007 they took a large leap and started James Family Cellars. They sell their grapes to Schramsburg Winery in Napa County for their premium sparkling wine program.

Their rustic and peaceful property is located in the cool part of the famed wine growing region of Sonoma County and is less than 20 miles from the ocean.

At James Family Cellars, the word crafted isn’t just a marketing term. It means to nurture the grapes every step of the way from vineyard to bottle.

Jeff has another talent not often mentioned. He loves to cook and try new recipes and writes a monthly column for The Community Voice newspaper.