Along with other local winemakers, Jonathan and Susan Pey have proven Marin has viticultural potential all its own. The husband-and-wife team moved here in the early ’90s, bringing wine training and experience from Europe, and now craft six wines under five labels, including Pey-Marin Vineyards Pinot Noir, which is organically farmed in West Marin. Wine making certainly isn’t new in Marin; Jonathan says vineyards were planted here in 1817, 20 years before those in Napa Valley. The Peys’ newest addition is contributing to the gustatory scene in West Marin with a new tasting room at the Olema Inn. Stop by for a flight from noon to 4 p.m. daily.
Describe your personal style. We like to think globally but act locally.
What advice do you have for young future winemakers? Make the best wine you can—or don’t make it at all. Never, ever compromise. Taste as many wines as you can, besides your own, in order to give you better perspective on differing wine styles, types and qualities.
What are you hoping to accomplish in the next five years? We hope we can convince more people about the importance of buying locally produced “earth-friendly” products. Our fragile planet shouldn’t have to ship mineral water, cheese or wine from Europe for people to enjoy in California.
What’s it like working with a spouse? Easy if your spouse’s name is Susan Pey—but considerably more challenging if your spouse’s name is Jonathan Pey. We’ve known each other for 25 years and know which buttons to push and which to avoid, so it actually works very well.
How do you spend your weekends? Coaching and playing soccer, hiking Mount Tam with our dog, swimming, reading, cooking, and relaxing with our three daughters—and never, ever talking about wine.
Who are your mentors in the field? Jack Davies, founder of Schramsberg Vineyards. He was a great believer in understanding the “big picture” and literally saved Napa Valley from overdevelopment via his pioneering work at the Napa Land Trust. MALT is doing much the same work here in Marin County.
What’s it like being a Marin winemaker? Initially we felt a bit like Rodney Dangerfield (“I can’t get no respect!”), but the last decade has proven that world-class wines can be grown in Marin County and our Pey-Marin wines are now featured in top restaurants and fine wine shops.