John Anthony Family of Wines Strengthens Winemaking Team
January 22, 2021
Napa, CA – John Anthony Family of Wines begins 2021 by announcing two key personnel moves that strengthen and expand its winemaking team. Jeff Kandarian is promoted to Executive Vice President, Winemaking in recognition of his contribution to the company’s exponential growth since joining the team in 2014. Michael Abernathy, who joined the team as Assistant Winemaker in 2016, is promoted to Winemaker, and the team will hire a new Assistant Winemaker to further level-up its winemaking capabilities.
Jeff Kandarian’s career spans over 20 years in some of the greatest winegrowing regions in the US, including Paso Robles, Oregon, and Napa Valley. During his time as Director of Winemaking at King Estate in Oregon, the winery was recognized as “Winery of the Year” on three separate occasions by Wine & Spirits Magazine. Kandarian joined John Anthony Family of Wines as Winemaker in 2014, taking over production of the winery’s three brand portfolios and 100,000 case production. Since that time, Kandarian has increased winemaking production—now approaching 1MM cases across six labels—and more than doubled the number of wines released each vintage. All the John Anthony Family of Wines brands have received critical acclaim under Kandarian’s direction, including Double Gold and Gold Awards; frequent 90+ point scores; and the Impact Hot Brand Award five years running for Butter Chardonnay, the #2 selling chardonnay above $12 in the US (Nielsen Scan Data 52 Weeks 2020).
“Meeting Jeff was one of the pivotal moments in our company’s growth. The John Anthony name was known in the Napa Valley for our exclusive single-varietal and vineyard-designate wines, and our very first vintage in 2003 was awarded 93 points from Wine Spectator. However, by 2016, we were starting to see significant demand for our Super Premium wines under the JaM Cellars label,” said John Anthony Truchard Founder and CEO, John Anthony Family of Wines. “Jeff shares my belief that great wines start in the vineyard and his relentless commitment to quality starts there, along with meticulous execution from crushpad to bottling, regardless of the volume produced.”
In 2016, Kandarian hired Michael Abernathy as Assistant Winemaker, who apprenticed with Michael Mondavi Family Estates and Folio Fine Wine Partners prior to joining John Anthony Family of Wines. Over the last five years, Abernathy has become an invaluable member of the team, building strong production and packaging partnerships alongside Kandarian. Together, the John Anthony Family of Wines winemaking team has launched new brand portfolios in Sonoma and Paso Robles, introduced the brand’s first canned wines under the JaM Cellars label, and significantly expanded the John Anthony single-vineyard and Reserve programs.
“John Anthony Family of Wines has presented me with myriad opportunities to do what I love—make exceptional wines regardless of price point or quantity produced. The vision John laid out for the company when we first met has become a reality. As we have grown I am grateful for the strategic relationships we’ve developed and the incredible partnership I have with Michael Abernathy. I’m delighted for Michael to take on the Winemaker role and for our team to grow as we look for an Assistant Winemaker who shares our commitment to excellence in what we do every day,” added Jeff Kandarian, Executive Vice President, Winemaking, John Anthony Family of Wines.
About John Anthony Family of Wines
John Anthony Family of Wines includes John Anthony Vineyards, FARM Napa Valley, Serial, Weather, and JaM Cellars. John Anthony Vineyards produces exclusive wines created from small vineyard sites in Oak Knoll District, Carneros, and Coombsville regions, all available in the winery’s downtown Napa tasting lounge. FARM Napa Valley was started by John Anthony Truchard as a farming company growing Napa Valley grapes for others. Realizing that he was farming some of the best land in the region, John decided to make wine from several of the small hand-farmed lots in the name of the farming company. The FARM Napa Valley label is inspired from the simple philosophy that “great wines are grown in the farmer’s shadow”. Serial is a series of red wines from Paso Robles—deep, plush and vibrant from this largely undiscovered and exciting wine region. Weather is a curated collection of Burgundian varietal wines sourced from California microclimates and highlighting the dynamic relationship between vines, terroir, and the elements. JaM Cellars was founded in 2009 in response to the downturn in the economy and experienced triple-digit growth in its early years by offering wines made in the tradition of great California winemaking at accessible sub $20 price points. Today Butter Chardonnay from JaM Cellars is the #2 selling chardonnay above $12 in the U.S. (source: Nielsen scan data 2020).