story

Great Grandfather and Aunts in San Martin Vineyards, c 1910

Can you believe that we have been actively producing wines since the turn of the century?

Slight exaggeration, but actually true. Although it has only been since 1999 that Jon started producing wine for friends and family; his fascination with wine began while he was in college, working in the tasting room at the Mirassou Winery in San Jose, California.

It may also be possible that Jon’s interest in wine is in his blood. In the early 1900’s, Jon’s great-grandparents owned and farmed vineyards in San Martin, California.

Although Jon has no formal degree in wine making, his passion for wine and food has been the driving force contributing to his success.  The following timeline summarizes Jon’s journey from garagiste on the San Francisco peninsula to a modern Sonoma County urban wine maker.

  • 1985 – 1988: worked in hospitality for Mirassou Winery, San Jose.
  • 1998: attended classes at UC Davis Extension in Enology and Viticulture.
  • 1999: produced one barrel of Contra Costa Zinfandel using grapes purchased from Rosenblum Cellars, winning a bronze medal.
  • 2001: purchased Chardonnay & Old Vine Zinfandel vineyard in Russian River Valley.
  • 2002: Inspiration Vineyards was formed, producing our first vintage offsite at another facility.
  • 2003: Onsite production began on Olivet Road in Santa Rosa.
  • 2008: Transitioned to full-time wine making and wine selling, leaving the security of other employment.
  • 2010: Moved wine making from Olivet Road to the Coffey Lane facility in urban Santa Rosa.
  • 2011: Began offering custom wine making services to outside clients.
  • 2016: Dylan Sheldon joins the team to become Production Manager to assist with day to day wine making and managing custom crush clients.
  • 2017: Jon & Dylan together, form the wine brand, Avaler.
  • 2018: Jon sells his Olivet Road vineyard property.
  • 2018: Jon becomes Chairman of the Board for Family Winemakers of California.