Our winemaker: Victor Palencia
When our award-winning winemaker Victor Palencia was hired by Jones of Washington in 2008, he was but 23 years of age.
But don't let that number fool you.
By the age of 13, Victor was already working among the grapes, following his father who tended vineyards in the Prosser area of Washington state. "I worked in vineyards. As a kid, that was my after-school job," Victor says.
Three years later — at an age when most teens are just learning to drive — Victor was a mainstay at Prosser's Willow Crest Winery, thanks to owner Dave Minic who gave Victor access to his winemaker and then brought him aboard as an employee.
After graduating from Prosser High School, Victor attended Walla Walla Community College, where his studies were focused around the college's renowned wine-making program.
He ended up being the first in his family to earn a college degree.
After a return to Willow Crest, Victor joined Jones of Washington as head winemaker in 2008 — at that young age of 23. Since then, Jones has won numerous gold, double gold and platinum medals.
Victor is quick to point to one of the main reasons for that success — the Jones vineyards in what is arguably one of the best wine-grape regions in the West.
"It really goes back to the vineyard and that's where Jones stands out," he says. "Everything we do here is based on making premium wines."
Victor credits his family, which includes eight siblings, as well as other winemakers in Eastern Washington, for helping him along the way.
“I like to think I have an artistic language I share with the grapes, and the wine I humbly bring to your glass is my translation," he says.