If you are familiar with California wines, and Zinfandel in particular, you may have heard the name Black Sears. “Didn’t Highlands do a Black Sears? My all-time favorite Zin was the 1997 Turley Black Sears.”
For years the Black Sears family has sold fruit to some of the best wineries in the Napa Valley. And because the fruit of the Black Sears vineyard is unique and extraordinary, those wineries produced Black Sears “vineyard designate” wines that reflect the distinctive terrain and climate of the Howell Mountain appellation and this beautiful, mountaintop property.
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 basement in Pacifica in the 70s—a pastime that slowly grew into a full commitment when they moved to Howell Mountain. Joyce and Jerre also spent a number of years as partners with Mike Beatty in Howell Mountain Vineyards before selling the HMV label in order to focus on the Black Sears project. In 1997, Joyce and Jerre began producing very small quantities of estate-bottled Cabernet Sauvignon and Zinfandel for their new Black Sears label, a few hundred cases per vintage.
In 2008 they were joined in their endeavor by their daughter Ashley and her husband Chris. 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.
Today, the Black Sears family works together to bring you the finest wines they can from their small mountain paradise.