Jaimee Motley

Jaimee Motley

Jaimee Motley Wines (Winemaker & Founder)

Stony Hill Vineyard (Winemaker)

Jaimee Motley grew up in Annapolis, Maryland, as part of a family that was involved in the restaurant business. After completing her undergraduate degree at the University of Maryland, she headed to California to pursue a graduate degree in painting, but ultimately returned to her roots in the restaurant business by working at Locanda and RN74 in San Francisco. The high-level knowledge of wine required by these positions led her to taste and read about a wide range of wines and ignited her passion to make winemaking a career.

Jaimee’s odyssey to becoming a winemaker began with working in the cellars and vineyards in both the Northern and Southern Hemispheres. Her experiences in the wine regions of the Loire and Savoie led to “falling in love” with Chenin Blanc and Mondeuse because of their naturally high acidity ability to express the terroir in which the fruit is produced.

In 2015, Jaimee accepted the position of assistant winemaker at Wine Gap/Pax Wine Cellars in Sebastopol. She was named winemaker at Stony Hill Vineyard in the Napa Valley in 2020. Jaimee has established her own brand, Jaimee Motley Wines, and uses the facilities at Pax Wine Cellars to make her wines, producing Chenin Blanc, Mondeuse, and Cabernet Sauvignon. Her goal for these wines is making them “serious” but drinkable and providing a product that is fresh, interesting, and true to the varietal and the terroir of the fruit’s origin. She was named a “Winemaker to Watch” by the San Francisco Chronicle in 2018.

As a woman winemaker, Jaimee has encountered sexism. For example, she says, “I can’t tell you how many times I have been asked ‘Do you know anyone here (in a winery) that knows how to drive a forklift?’ as [she] stands there wearing the typical winemaker get up.” In her opinion, women have a hard time being put into specific categories: those who are too soft spoken and nice may be classified as being weak and those who are strong minded and opinionated may be called other names. In her own words, “Women winemakers should be able to identity and express themselves in any way that feels natural, whether it be a soft and gentle approach or more forward and outspoken. With either approach or anything in between, you can find beauty, strength, power, and creativity in your passion.”

Her advice to aspiring winemakers is to focus on quality and avoid chasing trends because everything goes in and out of style. Experience in the cellar and vineyard are prerequisites to becoming successful as a winemaker.