Hook & Ladder Winemaker
Jason De Loach
Some of Winemaker Jason De Loach’s earliest memories are of growing up on Barbieri Ranch, the historic “old vine” vineyard owned at the time by his grandfather Cecil De Loach. As a child, Jason was a constant companion to his grandfather, trailing Cecil through the vineyards and helping out where he could. Later, as a teenager, Jason worked with Cecil in the vineyards and winery during summer breaks, and eventually joined the winery full time when he graduated from high school in 1998.
Although he was the boss’s grandson, Jason started at the bottom when he made the move into the De Loach Vineyards cellar, learning every aspect of the winery’s site-specific winemaking from receiving and processing grapes to cleaning and maintaining the equipment. Soon Jason moved up to Production Coordinator, and became more involved in the winemaking process. At this point, he realized that winemaking was more than the default family business, it was, for him, a real and growing passion, and he was eager to learn more.
Like his grandfather before him, Jason took viticulture classes with Rich Thomas at Santa Rosa Junior College while also studying enology at UC Davis. In 1999, when offered the opportunity to work harvest in Chile, Jason jumped at the chance. The trip proved invaluable to his work back home. Not only were his eyes opened to new techniques in both the vineyard and cellar, but given that he lived and worked with the local winery crew, he quickly learned to speak “cellar” Spanish.
After several years mastering the fundamentals while working with winemaker, Dan Cederquist at De Loach, Jason looked to broaden his winemaking experience with another premium producer. He joined Balletto Vineyards in 2003 as Cellar Master, and was soon promoted to Assistant Winemaker. He worked side by side with renowned winemaker Dan Cederquist overseeing winemaking operations for Balletto as well as for their boutique custom crush clients, including Dutton-Goldfield.
In 2006, it was time to come home. Cecil had since sold De Loach Vineyards and launched Hook & Ladder Winery on the site of one of his Russian River Valley estate vineyards. The new winery was dedicated to showcasing the family’s estate vineyards in small lots of site-specific wine. Cecil tapped the one winemaker he knew had the experience and passion to lead the family’s newest venture.
As head Winemaker for Hook & Ladder, Jason has his pick of fruit from the more than 148 acres of vineyards farmed by Cecil since 1970. This enviable access to Russian River Valley’s most sought-after grapes provides Jason with the “spice rack” of options necessary to craft elegantly balanced wines of extraordinary expression, depth and complexity.
Jason lives in Santa Rosa with wife Nicole and sons Lucas and Mathew. When not at work, Jason enjoys building and flying model airplanes, cycling, and training in Taekwondo.