Winemaker, Jeff Gaffner
With Saxon Brown, Owner/Winemaker Jeff Gaffner has parlayed the longstanding grower relationships he enjoys as a consulting winemaker into a line of small, site driven bottlings that celebrate his favorite vineyard sites.
Jeff began his career at Chateau St. Jean under the tutelage of renowned vintner Richard Arrowood, who Jeff credits with teaching him the importance of being as passionate about growing grapes as making the wine. While at Chateau St. Jean, Jeff was part of the winemaking team responsible for the winery's celebrated 1996 Cinq Cepages, which was named the 1999 Wine of the Year by Wine Spectator Magazine.
In the years since, Jeff has become one of the most sought after winemakers of artisan labels, having gained critical acclaim and a loyal following for his site-specific focus and restrained elegant style. The Wall Street Journal has said that they "love his vineyard voice", while the Wine Spectator has lauded his winemaking as "deft".
In 1997 Jeff launched Saxon Brown to showcase his favorite vineyard sites. He named his label for the willful heroine of Jack London's Valley of the Moon; the iconic chronicle of a family's search for the ideal farmstead; a journey that leads them to Sonoma Valley. Rich in Sonoma Valley history, the novel is Jeff's favorite and his sons Jason and Tyler.
Saxon Brown gained early recognition for its flagship 'old vine' Zinfandel and Semillon, which were made from heritage, field-blended vineyards planted by Sonoma's early Italian immigrants. Over the years, Jeff has built on Saxon Brown's vineyard-focus with small offerings from both established and emerging vineyard sites, including: Pinot Noir from the famed Durell Vineyard (Sonoma Valley), Pinot Noir, Syrah and Zinfandel from Parmelee-Hill (Sonoma Valley), Syrah and Syrah Rosé from Flora Ranch (Chalk Hill), Semillon from Cricket Creek (Alexander Valley) and in select vintages, Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon.
In addition to Saxon Brown, Jeff enjoys critical acclaim as consulting winemaker for boutique labels including Xtant (Napa Valley), Stephanie (Napa Valley), Black Kite Cellars (Anderson Valley) and the newly opened Ram's Gate Winery (Carneros).