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SITE Specific: Meet Paso Robles Winemaker Jeremy Weintraub

Cowboy hats, motorcycles and some really delicious pours.

Winemakers tend to cluster around certain stereotypes: the meticulous chemist, the fanatic farmer, the tech titan turned auteur. A recent conversation with Jeremy Weintraub, however, revealed a more multi-faceted identity. This Renaissance man now making extraordinary wines in Paso Robles—often in a cowboy hat—started life as an academic kid from Long Island and his path to the industry was certainly a circuitous one. Exposure to pioneering Long Island wineries like Paumonok and Wölffer piqued an interest but life veered south to Washington DC and a think tank gig after college and a stint at the University of Edinburgh. A future in public policy, and perhaps politics, was the plan.

Jeremy and Aliza

Weintraub remained curious. “Wine for me was learning something in a deep way for the first time. It was almost like falling in love for the first time,” he remarked. A talk given by revered winemaker David Ramey inspired thirty-year-old Weintraub to go back to college all over again, this time at CUNY and with a focus on chemistry. He later also earned an MS degree from UC Davis where he studied oenology and viticulture. Weintraub left the East Coast for Fresno on his vintage motorcycle, another passion, and has called California home ever since.  

Weintraub’s formative winemaking years were spent in Napa at Seavey, a well-known producer of quality cabernet. He supplemented his apprenticeship years with harvests worked in Tuscany and Central Otago. He learned, from whomever would teach him, and he tasted widely and deeply. When the chance to work with Adelaida’s cabernet program presented itself in 2012, he took a deep breath and moved south to Paso. He’s kept his day job all these years as Adelaida’s winemaker but founded his own brand, SITE, as well. With over a decade of Central Coast vintages under his belt and with experience vinifying everything from gamay to pinot to roussanne, Weintraub’s expertise is getting its due with wines placed at Michelin-starred restaurants like Single Thread and Benu.  

Weintraub’s proprietary label, SITE, is focused on just that—site-specific vineyards across Santa Barbara County. His interest lies in exploring how world-class California lieux-dits like Larner, Stolpman and Bien Nacido reflect their sites in the glass.  He makes just five wines—two whites and three reds. The whites are Rhône varieties—viognier and roussanne—and the reds are syrah and grenache expressions. They are all collectively amazing. In tasting across Jeremy’s wines, the predominant assessment is that they are balanced, unusually so for a winemaker located in Paso where monster reds have typically dominated. His wines have a beautiful bracing acidity that frames the fruit core; the reds have just enough tannin to balance the ripeness of a given vintage. In this sense, the winemaker becomes more of a conductor balancing orchestra sections. Weintraub has a good feeling for texture in a wine too—his viognier isn’t too flabby and alcoholic, a common flaw, nor is his grenache too extracted and syrupy. Priced at approximately $65 / bottle, SITE wines are only available from the website or at select restaurants nationally. Joining the mailing list is highly recommended for anyone serious about world-class California wines.  

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