Jeff Gordon- Proprietor
Jeff may best be known as a four-time NASCAR Cup Series Champion, but he has long been a fine wine enthusiast.
He first discovered a love for wine in 1995 after winning his first championship in racing's premier series. Jeff was in London to celebrate and when being handed the wine list at an upscale restaurant, he yearned for the full experience. He ordered a bottle of Joseph Drouhin Batard-Montrachet and had never seen a white decanted before. After taking one sip of the white burgundy, his passion for fine wine was ignited.
Jeff developed an appreciation for the art of winemaking in the years that followed and decided to create his own brand centered on the aspects of flavor and quality that he enjoys in a glass of wine.
He partnered with August “Joe” Briggs in the Napa Valley as his winemaker because of his focus on producing quality-driven, small-lot wines and together with Joe’s nephew, assistant winemaker Jesse Inman, they have introduced extraordinary wines ever since. In 2011, Jesse took over the reigns of the Briggs brand, thus becoming primary winemaker for the Gordon brand with Joe’s continuing consultation.
The first vintage of the Jeff Gordon Collection- a 2004 Carneros Chardonnay- was released in late 2005, followed by a Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon and Napa Valley Merlot, also of the 2004 vintage. In addition to Chardonnay, Cabernet and Merlot, they have introduced Sonoma Coast Pinot Noir, Napa Valley Rosé of Syrah and a signature red blend labeled “Joie de Vivre”. One of the highlights for Jeff has been naming two of the vintages after his children in the years they were born- the 2007 wines are dedicated to his daughter, Ella Sofia, and the 2010’s for his son Leo.
Jesse Inman- Winemaker
A native of northern California, Jesse Inman was bit by the winemaking bug early in life, thanks to his uncle August “Joe” Briggs, founder and winemaker of August Briggs Wines.
“I’ve been trailing my uncle around in vineyards and cellars as long as I can remember,” says Jesse. “He’s a phenomenal winemaker and mentor.”
His passion for wine reached new heights when Jesse was in college. “I studied fine art/graphic design both here and in London, and supported myself by working as a waiter in fine restaurants. It’s where I developed my palate, and my appreciation for wines with great balance and a sense of place and character.”
In 2006, after years of helping out as needed, Jesse joined August Briggs Winery as Assistant Winemaker. Over the next few years, Jesse honed his craft; working at the winery by day and studying viticulture at night.
In 2011, Joe Briggs sold August Briggs Wines to Jesse and a partnership of three long-time employees; staying on in a consulting role, as needed. The team transferred operations to a new tasting room facility located in downtown Calistoga, just 2 miles from the former winery. “We’re thrilled,” says Jesse, “to have found the perfect location, right in the heart of downtown Calistoga, to launch the next chapter of August Briggs Wines.”
When he's not producing August Briggs Wines and Jeff Gordon Collection Wines, Jesse enjoys mountain biking, painting, playing music and spending time with his son, Alexander.
August "Joe" Briggs- Consulting Winemaker
Joe Briggs’ path to becoming a vintner began rather by chance while he was a student at Chico State University.
“I went home for the weekend with a roommate whose family owned a winery in St. Helena, and I was just blown away by the wines, the farming, the sense of community, everything,” Joe says. He then returned to school and immediately set about transferring to Fresno State to study enology.
Following graduation, Joe moved to Oregon’s Willamette Valley along with his new bride Sally, where he took a position with Alpine Vineyards and began a love affair with Pinot Noir. After a year spent learning the ropes, Joe returned to California to work for Sierra Wine Corp. Within three years Joe became head winemaker and plant manager. “It was an amazing opportunity and I learned a great deal about both the craft and business of winemaking,” said Joe. The biggest thing Joe learned was that he preferred the craft.
In 1987 he left Sierra to pursue his passion for Pinot Noir as winemaker for La Crema Winery. He was recruited by Keenan Winery three years later, a then small Napa Valley startup. That experience, combined with his growing reputation, inspired Joe to strike out on his own as a consulting winemaker.
“As a consulting winemaker, I enjoyed incredible access to many of the north coast’s finest vineyards and cellars; valuable resources that I knew one day I would tap for my own label,” Briggs said.
That day came in 1995 when August “Joe” Briggs began making wines for his own label. Those inaugural wines – a Carneros Chardonnay, Napa Valley Zinfandel and Russian River Pinot Noir – caught the attention of Wine Spectator, which dubbed the wines “outstanding” and deemed Joe as a “winemaker to watch.”
In 2011, Joe and his wife Sally handed over the reigns of their namesake winery to nephew and co-winemaker Jesse Inman, along with three longtime employees. Together their new team continues the August Briggs tradition.
Alongside his nephew Jessie, Joe continues his commitment to the Jeff Gordon Cellars brand as our consulting winemaker that began with our first vintage in 2004.
John Bickford- General Manager
John has been involved with the businesses of everything Jeff Gordon since Jeff was five years old and beginning his racing career. Throughout the years, he has helped shape countless deals and strategic relationships.
When Jeff brought the idea of having his own fine wine brand to John, his reaction was nothing but enthusiastic. "Getting into the wine business really seemed like a natural fit for Jeff. We used to race early on in the Napa Valley and he had always been curious about it," says John. "Once he began experiencing some success through racing in his twenties, he was able to afford some really nice wines and everything just took off from there. His tastes evolved and he became more and more interested in the process of winemaking."
John and his wife, Carol, enjoy entertaining at their home in North Carolina. When John isn't spending time with his grandchildren, you can find him in his shop working on custom cars. He also loves to hunt and fish.
Chrisy Gallagher- Director
Chrisy has been a part of the Jeff Gordon Inc. team for over a decade after moving to Charlotte, North Carolina from Upstate New York where she was in publishing sales. She began her career with JGI as the Director of Internet Operations, managing JeffGordon.com and launching Jeff's online racing merchandise store, along with his social media platforms.
In 2009, she took over the day-to-day operations of Jeff Gordon Cellars and in 2010 spearheaded the company's direct-to-consumer marketing efforts, beginning with the launch of this website.
Chrisy had been bitten by the wine bug while traveling some years ago, but it wasn't until managing Jeff's wine business that she realized how much she enjoyed fine wines. "I've always liked a nice glass with a good meal every now and then, but once I started spending time in Napa and Sonoma, I was truly hooked," said Gallagher. "I became fascinated with the processes of creating top-quality wine. I love being a part of the vine-to-bottle experience of producing our California wines."
Aside from the wine itself, Chrisy's favorite part of being in the wine business is the people. "I've made some wonderful friends in the Valley, and I really enjoy getting to know some of our regular clients. This industry is made up of amazing people," she says.
When she's not traveling for work, Chrisy likes to hang out with her dogs, Riley and Sadie, and she enjoys golfing and cooking.
Ryan Hutcheson- CFO
Ryan joined the Jeff Gordon Inc. team several years ago and has been working the numbers for Jeff's entities ever since. Even though he's a numbers guy, he's also a wine lover who appreciates a great glass of vino. You can even find him accompanying Chrisy to various events throughout the year to lend his expertise. And when we hold staff tastings before a new wine is released, he's always eager to give his "two cents".
Ryan enjoys spending his free time with his wife, Danielle, and their two sons.