If you are familiar with California wines, and Zinfandel in particular, you may have heard the name Black Sears without ever having tried our wines.
For over 30 years the Black Sears family has grown wines for some of the best wineries in the Napa Valley. The distinctive terrain and climate of the Howell Mountain appellation and this beautiful, mountaintop property have produced single vineyard designate wines for names like Schrader, Robert Craig, T-Vine, V. Sattui, and of course, Turley.
In 1979, Joyce Black and Jerre Sears purchased this one-of-a-kind property at the top of Howell Mountain. They were married here two years later, and it is where they’ve made their home for the past thirty years. Joyce is a native of Napa Valley, born and raised in Oakville. She earned a PhD in psychology from the University of California at Berkeley, and practiced and taught psychotherapy in the Bay Area for many years. Jerre grew up on a farm in Cottage Grove, Oregon before earning an MBA from Berkeley, pursuing a career in business, and eventually also earning a PhD in psychology.
Though Joyce and Jerre found success in careers outside of agriculture, they were not new to the business of fine wine production. They originally began making wine in their garage in Pacifica in the 70s—a pastime that slowly grew into a full-time commitment when they moved to Howell Mountain. Farmers at heart, the Black Sears family stuck to the vineyards for almost the first decade. But in 1988, Joyce and Jerre, along with partner and Howell Mountain pioneer Mike Beatty, bottled their first Zinfandel vintage for their own Howell Mountain Vineyards label. And in 1997, they started a second, much smaller project, wiith ilmited case production coming exclusively from their very own favorite sections of the vineyards: Black Sears Estate. Organically and Biodynamically grown Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, and Zinfandel, all 100% vareietal, a few hundred cases per vintage. Their goal: to produce wines that serve as an uncompromising expression of the terroir of this unique Howell Mountain estate.
In 2004, they sold the HMV label to focus on their passions: farming, family and Black Sears. And in 2008 they were joined in their endeavor by their daughter and son-in-law, Ashley & Chris Jambois. Ashley earned a degree in Comparative Religion from Claremont McKenna College before teaching in Seattle. Chris earned a degree in Philosophy from Emory University and spent a number of years working in international health with the CDC and Seattle-based PATH.
Most recenlty, in 2010 and 2013 respectively, they were joined by grandsons Lucien and Oren! Lucien is a student at St Helena Cooperative Nursery School where he is learning through play, and Oren enjoys naps, nummies, and being bounced while held. Today, three generations of the Black Sears family works together to bring you the finest wines they can from their small mountain paradise, and to promote family-friendly and sustainable grape-growing methods as the path to truly great and distinctive wines.