Wine Dine and Play: Jonata Winery

Jonata Winery

Jonata Winery in Santa Barbara, California is the sister wine to Screaming Eagle

Screaming Eagle’s Sister
Buellton, California
Wine Style: New World / Syrah, Blends, Cabernet, and Sangiovese
Average Price: $$$
Overall Rating: 98 points
Article Written: July 2014
Article Updated: September 2019
By Sean Overpeck (CFE)
**A full article and index glossary of restaurants, wines, recipes and travel for 
Wine Dine and Play are in the pages section above, or by following these links:

Château or Vineyard Owner:
Stan Kroenke

Matt Dees

My story with Jonata (pronounced honata) winery begins with Screaming Eagle. In 2011, I wanted to join the waiting list for Screaming Eagle wines, but they said that the wait could be up to ten years, and they recommended their sister winery Jonata to me, after that as they say, the rest is history, as I’m now a member of their club subjectively drinking some of the best wines in all of California.

The wines and tasting of Jonata Winery in Santa Barbara, California, the sister winery to Screaming Eagle.
Jonata Winery / The full collection

Jonata has 600 acres of land which pays homage to the 1845 Spanish land grant, Rancho San Carlos de Jonata. At the time the land grant covered a large part of the Santa Ynez Valley, today it is much smaller and refined. The winemakers’ selected the best areas for growth based on their unique microclimates and soil profiles, then divided into more than fifty blocks and sub-blocks – each matched with different rootstocks, clones and planting densities – winemaker Matt Dees then blends the distinctive wines for Jonata and the smaller second label called The Hilt.

Jonata started with three people with the purchase of the land in 1999 and producing its first wines for sale in 2004 near Santa Barbara, which is the last place you think about for wine in California, but more of A Dutch influence for vegetable farming. The top names that do come to mind are Napa and Sonoma. Little did they know that the 600-acre lot of land they were buying would produce some of the finest selections of red blends and Cabernets in all of California. Of the 600 acres, only 80 of it was conducive to growing grapes as the soil was just too dry, so for the other 520 acres it was recommended that they grow asparagus, but they opted for wine instead. The land also has goats and pig for organic farming. As the years went by their wine got better and better, and today receives very high marks from Robert Parker and others in the wine industry.

A tasting of the Sangiovese, cabernet, and Syrah at Jonata Winery in Santa Barbara, California, the sister winery to Screaming Wagle.
Jonata Winery / Red wines

The Hilt, which is 12 miles from the Jonata Vineyards, concentrates on Pinot Noir and Chardonnay, with the goal of making some of the best Burgundy-style wines in California. Jonata / The Hilt acquired the famed Rancho Salsipuedes vineyards in Santa Barbara, a 3,600-acre property in Santa Barbara County, which is currently planted to approximately 200 acres of vineyards. Rancho Salsipuedes has been producing pinot noir and chardonnay grapes from three separate vineyards: Bentrock, Radian, and Puerta del Mar. A portion of the property lies within the Santa Rita Hills AVA, a cool-climate region ideally situated to produce excellent wine grapes. So in the future, only good things will come.

When you sign up for Jonata if there not already on a waiting list you are allocated to a certain amount, as they are not a super winery, so they want to make sure there is enough. The best part is that the winemaker will not bottle or sell the wine if it does not meet strict standards they have put into place, so every bottle will be a good one. I have had their selections of Cabernet (El Desafio de Jonata), Syrah (La Sangre de Jonata), Sangiovese (Tierra), Red Blend (Todos), Sauvignon Blanc (Flor), their NV Dessert Wine, the Syrah, and Cabernet top my list, but then again I love Rhône style wines anyway. Recently they released their 2005, to which I bought several bottles, half of which have already been consumed, and the rest to be saved. I thought I died and went to heaven since 2005 was a spectacular year for wine anyway. I hope to get out there one day and visit the winery, maybe drink more than my allocation.
I love Cabernet and I love Rhône Style blends so this winery atop my list of favorites and reminds me of two other California top-notch vineyards that produce some fantastic wine. Hoopes Cabernet, in Napa Valley, produces some of the best Cabernet out there and Jonata is on par to them. For Rhone-style blends the La Sangre de Jonata reminds me of a Sonoma wine grower that produced fantastic Rhone blends called Kamen Estates.

Wine and Grape:
Nose (Bouquet):
Palate Experience:
Cabernet (El Desafio de Jonata)
Winemaker Notes:  
43% Cabernet Sauvignon, 32% Cabernet Franc, 14% Petit Verdot and 11% Malbec. Unmatched in its layers of aromatic complexity, with decadent black fruit, hints of pepper, cool mineral notes, and the perfect touch of herbaceousness.
Winemaker Notes:
For those bemoaning the loss of Alma, the higher than normal percentage of cabernet franc in this blend comes screaming out of the glass with lavender and a cool minty side. The black fruit from the cabernet acts as the anchor with a silky texture and a strong backbone of the structure. Some flesh and plummy sweetness from the merlot round out the mid-palate.
Syrah (La Sangre de Jonata)
Winemaker Notes:  
96% Syrah, 4% Viognier Unforgettable purity of fruit throughout, and a remarkable weight on the palate. This wine boasts the most velvety midpalate of any Sangre to date.
Winemaker Notes:
It flows across the palate with incredible energy and unmatched power. Seamless! The tannins build slowly at the start and form a formidable tower that will certainly reward cellaring.
Sangiovese (Tierra)
Winemaker Notes:  
95% Sangiovese, 5% Syrah. A Tierra that shows off the increasing maturity of the vines. Less overt toast from oak, more purity of fruit and perfume. More Tierra on every level. Mid-weight with brambly, peppery, smoky, and gamey notes. Bay leaf and sweet tobacco. Darker fruit than previous vintages.
Winemaker Notes:
Sweet and savory. The wine shows the warmth of September in the richness of black cherry fruit and increased density on mid-palate, while the cool summer weather promoted higher acidity and charmingly rustic and lingering tannins lend.

Red Blend (Todos)
Winemaker Notes:  
78% syrah, 8% Sangiovese, 5% merlot, 3% cabernet sauvignon, 1% grenache, 1% Viognier, 1% cabernet franc, 1% petit Verdot, 1% sauvignon blanc, 1% sémillon.
Knock out the nose with charcoal, black plum, graphite, and black olive. Lifted gamey Syrah with a hint of cool climate spice. The beauty and bold voice of ripe and hedonistic Syrah dominate the nose but shares the stage with cabernet sauvignon on the palate.
Winemaker Notes:
Suave black fruit intermingles with herbal notes and a dusty and earthy charm. Well-endowed with heaps of dry extract that arrives in layers. A wine that achieves a great level of tension; ripe and round fruit, framed by taut acidity and bold tannins. Leaves a mouthwatering cooling, minty sensation on the finish.
Sauvignon Blanc (Flor)
Winemaker Notes:  
67% sauvignon blanc, 33% sémillion. The nose is pure Flor with pungent notes of orange zest, lemon blossom, sweet custard, and dried chamomile. Sémillon adds an extra dimension of poignancy on the palate. The dance between the fat of Sémillon and the zing of sauvignon blanc is fine-tuned in this offering.
Winemaker Notes:
Higher acidity than the previous offering (a la the brilliant and cool conditions of 2011) adds a level of precision to the long finish. My favorite Flor to date (no offense to Flor’s ‘05 through ‘10) and one I am anxious to revisit in five and then ten years.

Final notes, review basics, and observations:


Most reviews are subjective, depending on the writer; but they should also be responsible, and respectfully written, upholding the truth, and accurately conveying the experience to the best of the writer's knowledge, even if it includes metaphors the restaurant may not like to read about.
To see more details of this rating list, read this article:

I refer to myself as an oenophile though, oenophilia is defined as “a disciplined devotion to wine, accompanying strict traditions of consumption and appreciation.” In a general sense, oenophilia also refers to the enjoyment of wine, often by a layman — which I am, and not qualified as a professional. I just enjoy drinking it, so my rating is based on enjoyment and the overall experience, not the science of an expert, and thus subjective, not objective. See the score factors outlined in the ‘about page’ on how I arrived at the rating percentage below:

Overall Star Rating For Jonata:
An Extraordinary Tasting Experience
Robert Parker The Wine Advocate
97/100 on the 2010 La Sangre de Jonata Syrah
97/100 on the 2010 El Desafio de Jonata
Other Accolades:
Cabernet (El Desafio de Jonata) 93 points
Sangiovese (Tierra) 92 points
Red Blend (Todos) 95 points
Sauvignon Blanc (Flor) 92 points
Wines Produced by Jonata:
Red: Cabernet Sauvignon, Sangiovese, Syrah, Red Blend, Bordeaux Blend (a.k.a., Meritage)
White: Sauvignon Blanc, Sémillon
Dessert: Sauternes 

Grape Blends:
Cabernet Sauvignon, Petit Verdot, Malbec & Cabernet Franc
Sauvignon blanc, Sémillon
Barrel Types and Aging:
50-80% New French oak, 20-90% neutral French oak for 18-20 months

Wine regulatory’s for the tastings in this article:

“In wine there is wisdom, in beer there is the strength, in the water there are bacteria.” - David Auerbach

United States: 

Sub-Central AVA’s:

Other California wines, wineries (Château’s), or food articles on Wine Dine and Play:

Napa - A Sip and Taste in Wine County A 3-day tour of wineries and fine dining restaurants in Napa County, California

Blackbird Vineyards Wine Tasting An ultra-premium terroir in Napa, California
Bridesmaid Wine Tasting Impressive Bordeaux-style blends in Oakville, California
Castello di Amorosa Tuscan inspired castle with wine — friends of the Baron - Calistoga, Napa,  California
Chateau Montelena The famed Bottle Shock “Judgement of Paris” winner in Calistoga, California
Crocker and Star Wine Tasting Capturing the essence of Cabernet in St Helena, California
Emmolo Wine Tasting A merlot comparable to no other in Rutherford, California
Flying Horse Wine Tasting A spirited winery with Arabian horses in Oakville, California 
Ghost Block Vineyard Cabernet and Sauvignon blanc organic wine producer in Oakville, California  
Gustavo Winery Artisan winemaker whose story is tied to “The Judgement of Paris” in Napa, California
Hoopes Winery Tasting Cult cabernet winemaker with Liparita and Hoopes labels in Oakville, California
Johndrow Vineyards Wine Tasting The JV - a true cult wine in St Helena, California 
Kamen Estates Low yield, high quality + film writing in Sonoma, California
Ma(i)sonry Wine Tasting An aesthetic portfolio of wines in Yountville, California
Mirror Wine Tasting A beautiful Cabernet from a family of entrepreneurs in St Helena, California
Napa Wine Company A wine tasting Bar representing cult Napa classics in Oakville, California
Oakville Winery Tasting A single-family vineyard since 1903 in Oakville, California
Ottimino Winery Exclusive red Zinfandel producer partnered with William Knuttel in Sonoma, California 
Pahlmeyer Jason Wine Tasting A proprietary Bordeaux-style red blend in St Helena, California
Red Mare Wine Tasting Handcrafted and micro sourced appellations  in Napa, California
Row 11 Santa Maria Pinot An Old World style Pinot from Santa Maria, California
Row 11 Tasting Pinot grapes using Dijon clones in Santa Maria, California
Silver Oak Cellars Near the Silverado Trail, known for high-end Cabernet in Oakville, California
Stag’s Leap Winery Cask 23, a Napa gem in Napa, California
Switzer Family Wines A Cult Cabernet producer and famed football coach in Oakville, California
Twomey Wine Tasting Napa and Sonoma wines owned by Silver Oak, Calistoga, Napa California
Volker Eisele Wine Tasting An elegant family estate in the Chiles Valley district of St Helena, California

California cuisine is a style of cuisine marked by an interest in fusion cuisine (integrating disparate cooking styles and ingredients) and in the use of freshly prepared local ingredients. The food is typically prepared with strong attention to presentation. Foods low in saturated fats and high in fresh vegetables and fruits with lean meats and seafood from the California coast often define the style. 

5A5 Steak Lounge Modern Japanese steakhouse with chic design in San Francisco, California
Alioto’s Restaurant Historic restaurant serving Sicilian-infused seafood in San Francisco, California 
Casita Taqueria a fast-casual taqueria serving homemade artisan Mexican food specializing especially in tacos and burritos in St. Petersburg, Florida
Ciccio Cali inspired cuisine from California using antibiotic-free meats, organic and Non-GMO vegetables in St. Petersburg, Florida
Cowgirl Creamery Artisan Cheese Shop “aka” Cowgirl Cantina in Point Reyes Station, California
FarmTable Cucina organic, sustainable, and local with a focus on Italian and New American themes in St. Petersburg, Florida
FarmTable Kitchen Casual Cal-Italian cuisine and chef tables in St. Petersburg, Florida 
Fleur de Lys Lavish French-Californian by Hubert Keller in San Francisco, California 
Gaia Restaurant Organic and sustainable concept in American Canyon, California (Renamed Table 29 Bistro and Bar)
Greystone CIA Restaurant CIA School restaurant formally called Wine Spectator now GateHouse in Calistoga, California
The French Laundry French-American fine dining restaurant in Yountville, California
Wipeout Bar and Grill Surf shack theme with California and Mexican cuisine in San Francisco, California 
Wolfgang Puck Celebrity Chef’s California cuisine and fine dining chain; reviewed in Orlando, Florida

See the whole list by visiting “The Wine Dine and Play Article Glossary

A Few New World Favorites:
New World wines are those wines produced outside the traditional wine-growing areas of Europe and the Middle East, in particular from Argentina, Australia, Brazil, Canada, Chile, China, Colombia, India, Japan, Mexico, New Zealand, Peru, South Africa, United States (California, Florida, Missouri, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Texas, Washington State,Virginia),Thailand, and Uruguay.

Yearly tasting event at Hyde Park
Sydney, Australia
Wine and food tour
Cape Town, South Africa
A tour of food and wine from a 2015 tour in Oregon wine country
Dundee, Willamette, Oregon

Some Old World Favorites:
Old World wine refers primarily to wine made in Europe but can also include other regions of the Mediterranean basin with long histories of winemaking such as North Africa and the Near East. These countries include Albania, Armenia, Austria, Azerbaijan, Bulgaria, Croatia, Czech Republic, Cyprus, England, France, Georgia, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Israel, Italy, Jordan, Lebanon, Macedonia, Moldova, Morocco Poland, Portugal, Romania, Serbia, Sicily, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Switzerland, and Turkey.

Wine tours and restaurants 
Bordeaux, France

A tasting of the Vougeot AOC, caves, and the Hospices de Beaune
Burgundy, France
Sancerre wines
Loire Valley, France 

See the whole list by visiting “The Wine Dine and Play Article Glossary by country

Bottle Prices 
(excluding taxes)
$£€¥ -                Under 50.00 (inexpensive)
$£€¥ x 2 -          51.00- 99.00 (moderate)
$£€¥ x 3 -          Over 100.00 (pricey)
$£€¥ x 4 -          Over 200.00 (expensive)
$£€¥ x 5 -          Over 400.00 (very expensive)
**Currencies reflect the world’s major wine countries and connoisseur’s** 

Currency rates in the top wine-producing & wine purchasing countries:
Price Chart :
Cabernet El Desafio de Jonata 2010 (750 ml)

United States Dollar (USD)
Australian Dollar (AUS)
Great Britain Pound Sterling (GBP)
Canadian Dollar (CAN)
Chinese Yuan (CNY)  
European Union (EUR)
New Zealand Dollar (NZD)
South African Rand (ZAR) 
Syrah La Sangre de Jonata 2010 (750 ml)

United States Dollar (USD)
Great Britain Pound Sterling (GBP)
European Union (EUR)
Sangiovese Tierra 2010 (750 ml)

United States Dollar (USD)
Great Britain Pound Sterling (GBP)
European Union (EUR)

Jonata Wines:
Tasting Room inside the Cool Hand Vineyards
73 Thomas Rd
Buellton, CA 93427

Tasting Room Information:

Tasting room:
+01 805 564 8581

Website contact:

Tasting Room Hours:
Pacific Standard Time (GMT, Zulu, or UTC-8:00)
Monday - Friday
Tastings are by appointment and are only available on weekdays. Contact a few weeks in advance, as the availability is limited.
Social Media 
Accolades for 

Jonata Facebook Link                

The worlds best restaurants is a subjective list of who is writing it and changes on a regular basis. The Wine Dine and Play best experiences are based on my highest rated stared restaurants, meaning that the visit was an outstanding or extraordinary experience. From cafés, chains, mom + pops, hole in the walls, to fine dining including a few Michelin spots. Visit the Top 100 page to see the entire list.

A few to tease you with…
Rooftop Artisan Fusion Bistro
St. Pete Beach, Florida, USA
A walk into the Piemonte with a contemporary twist
DIFC, Dubai, UAE
Contemporary Cape Malay Cuisine
Cape Town, South Africa

Other Jonata Pictures:

The Santa Barbara Vineyards of Jonata and The Hilt, the sister winery to Screaming Eagle in California.
Jonata Winery / Vineyard

The logo's to Jonata winery in Santa Barbara, California
Jonata Winery / Logo's

“In wine there is wisdom, in beer there is the strength, in the water there are bacteria.” 
- David Auerbach

Who is John Galt?


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