Posted: Monday, February 2, 2015 4:00 am
by: Matt Russell
Whenever my wife and I visit the wine regions of California, we dream of sending for our things and opening a small winery.
But whatever it is that shakes us from this beautiful slumber always ends up shipping us back to the Sonoran Desert; back to life, back to reality.
For us, alas, it’s the impossible dream. For race car driver and native Tucsonan Jamie Slone, it’s a calling that he and his wife Kym answered with enthusiasm.
“You’re not supposed to drink and drive, so I decided to just drink,” said Slone, the man behind Jamie Slone Wines, located in the Presidio Neighborhood of Santa Barbara.
I recently caught up with the Canyon del Oro High School and University of Arizona alumnus on one of his frequent trips back home, to find out the secrets behind his early success in a business that many people only dream about.
Slone’s professional racing career was at its most intense period from 2007 – 2012, when he chalked-up a slate of impressive finishes at events from the Ford Racing Mustang Challenge to the NASA National Championship. His home track was in Sonoma, California, and he spent much of his time at the end of long days on the track exploring area wineries.
“At the end of the day, I found myself running out to the next winery and tasting room to experience wine, while the rest of the guys went out to drink beer,” he said. “I was kind of the lone wolf.”
This fascination ultimately evolved into a fire in the belly, propelling the Slones into the wine business full time with the launch of Jamie Slone Wines.
Since he opened his tasting room in downtown Santa Barbara’s historic district, he has earned praise from neighbors and industry icons alike, as well as from the wine industry media.
So what does it take to get traction in such a competitive business?
Slone tells me that passion, stamina and vision must all work together to create success.
“Those are probably the three best ways to describe my behavior,” he said, “but it really was about a leap of faith.”
Slone’s current line-up includes the 2011 BoRific, a Bordeaux blend, the 2012 Pinot Noir, the 2013 Sauvignon Blanc and the 2013 Aloysius Chardonnay.
While Slone regularly ships bottles to members of his wine club, I’ve started to see his wines appear on local restaurant wine lists. His Sauvignon Blanc and Chardonnay are both available at Vivace Restaurant, the Pinot Noir is featured at Tavolino Ristorante Italiano and the BoRific can be found at Fleming’s Prime Steakhouse and Wine Bar.
Though he’s surely enjoying his winery’s early success, Slone admits that it was a lofty pursuit.
“As much as you’d like to say that it’s super sexy and fun all of the time, there’s serious work involved here,” he said. “But there’s no better place for this work than in Santa Barbara County, and no better person to do it with than my beautiful bride.”
So what’s on the horizon for a guy who found a way to squeeze passion, stamina and vision into every bottle that he sells?
“I’m not looking back,” he declared. “I’m just going to work on living the life that I’ve always imagined.”
To learn more about Jamie Slone Wines, the tasting room and wine club, visit www.JamieSloneWines.com.
I’m going to count on Slone to live that life that he’s imagined, while I tap into my own imagination to see how that BoRific pairs with tonight’s porterhouse.