summer dreams

Producer Profile: Hundred AcreDecanter | Jonathan Cristaldi


Arriving in Napa Valley with no winemaking experience in 1999, Jayson Woodbridge quickly showed his aptitude for learning from luminary winemakers – most notably St Helena-based Philippe Melka.
Woodbridge’s ability to make fine wine and understand the importance of terroir – and the substantial fortune that he brought to the valley – enabled him to purchase vineyard land in good locations. He managed it very well and produced consistently high-quality grapes to make his Hundred Acre wines.
Woodbridge chose a slightly obscure name that no one understood at first. Writers have claimed, mistakenly, that ‘Hundred Acre’ is a reference to AA Milne’s Winnie-the-Pooh. ‘Not so,’ says Woodbridge; it’s a Zen-like reminder of his youthful days as a long-distance runner speeding through the woods near his childhood home. ‘My own private forest of childhood memories.’
Woodbridge has astutely caught the attention of the media and consumers in a way that has placed Hundred Acre among the best-known wines in California. Though he built his empire on high-priced cult wines, he also created under-$20 wine brands Layer Cake, Cherry Pie and If You See Kay (all sold to Vintage Wine Estates in 2018). In the last five years, he established two entirely new wineries: Fortunate Son and Summer Dreams.
Along the way, his strong-willed personality has encountered and created some controversy, ranging from lawsuits over land use and permit-related issues to personal disputes. His vineyard manager of 25 years, Jim Barbour, put it this way: ‘People can say what they want. He’s always been a great person to me, a really good friend, and lets me do what I do best.’
With a tall, grizzly bear-like stature, salt-and-pepper hair, and a penetrating gaze, the mercurial Woodbridge is devilishly witty and disarmingly charming. He loves to grin and bear his teeth for debate. The creator of a world like Hundred Acre has to be a forceful character, and Woodbridge has left a mark based on not only the quality of his wine but the power of his personality.

Hundred Acre at a glance

Founded 2000 – Calistoga, St Helena
Owned by Jayson and Helen Woodbridge
Key vineyards Ark (18.21ha site below Glass Mountain, 5.26ha planted to six clones of Cabernet Sauvignon); Few and Far Between (2ha on a 45ha estate in Calistoga, planted to 90% Cabernet Sauvignon, 10% Cabernet Franc); Morgan’s Way (3.64ha east of Silverado Trail, south of Bale Lane, planted entirely to Cabernet Sauvignon)
Key wines Vineyard-specific Cabernet Sauvignon from Ark, Few and Far Between and Morgan’s Way. Cabernet Sauvignon blends and experimental-ageing bottlings have included Dark Ark, Deep Time, Precious, Wraith, Wraith Crypt and Fortification (Port-like Cabernet Sauvignon fortified with brandy distilled from Cabernet Sauvignon grapes). The Ancient Way Shiraz wine from Barossa Valley was discontinued after 2010.

Journey to Napa Valley

Woodbridge was born in October 1963 in Toronto, Canada. His family was middle class; his mother Patricia worked in nursing, and his father John held a career in radio and television. He has one brother, Cameron, also a winemaker.
Wine found Woodbridge as an investment banker. While entertaining, he consumed ‘the world’s great wines’. As a young man, he began to sense a connection to wine that was not shared by his clients or colleagues. ‘I felt I was in a crowded room with people watching black and white television while I was watching high-def.’
He’d begun visiting vineyards in 1989 in Canada, Switzerland and France. By the late 1990s, armed with a small fortune, he decided Napa Valley was the place to make his move, and he worked quickly to establish Hundred Acre.
The brand’s original investors and partners have been bought out. Jayson and his wife Helen Mawson, a New Zealand native and US citizen, are the sole owners. ‘She is my rudder,’ says Woodbridge, ‘helping me keep the ship running.’
Jayson Woodbridge with son Cameron (left) and wife Helen. Credit: Hardy Wilson

Quality requires harmony

Woodbridge believes that site – and the harmony you can bring to it – are key to making the world’s best wines. He talks of soils as ‘underground superstructures that have to be made powerful, diverse and disease resistant’. To do so, organic mushroom compost in heaping doses is spread in Woodbridge’s estate vineyards – if 20 tons per acre is recommended, he layers in 50 tons to create a ‘mycelium culture that feeds the vines’, which are culled to one cluster per shoot.
The signature Hundred Acre wines are its three organically farmed estate single-vineyard Cabernet Sauvignons from Morgan’s Way, Ark and Few and Far Between (see tasting notes below). Morgan’s Way (formerly Kayli Morgan) was purchased in August 2000. Between St Helena and Calistoga, just on the eastern side of Silverado Trail close to Bale Lane, it was redesigned in 1996 for a former owner by Barbour, who planted Cabernet Sauvignon clones 7 and 337. With the 2000 harvest approaching, Barbour suggested Woodbridge meet consultant winemaker Philippe Melka. The three men dug soil pits, and Melka thought the clay and sandy soils were reminiscent of the vineyards of Petrus and Ausone in Bordeaux. ‘You’re the guy,’ Woodbridge said to Melka that day.

Launching Hundred Acre

Melka crafted the first Hundred Acre bottling, the 2000 Kayli Morgan Cabernet, at nearby Rombauer winery. In 2001, production moved to Quintessa. In 2002, Woodbridge himself assumed the role of winemaker. ‘I was there to guide and ensure that he kept the foundation of winemaking,’ says Melka, ‘but the success of Hundred Acre is all him.’
Meanwhile, development of the Ark vineyard below Glass Mountain in St Helena began in 1999, when it was acquired. Cabernet Sauvignon vines planted on steep south-facing slopes form a 180° arc in the sun, half with eastern exposures, half western. The ground is a vertical layer-cake of ancient beach fronts of red soil, black obsidian rock and volcanic pebbles. ‘It’s a hundred million years of time sequences,’ says Woodbridge. The first Ark wine was made in 2005.
Later, in 2008, Woodbridge acquired a 46.5ha property that included Pickett Road vineyard, Calistoga. Renamed Few and Far Between, the site surrounds the Woodbridge home and shares a fence line with Eisele Vineyard. Cabernet Sauvignon clones 4, 7 and 337 are rooted in a mix of rocky, alluvial and clay loam soils. A small ‘Home Block’ contains Cabernet Franc. All situated in a canyon, they are hot during the day, but coastal breezes from the Chalk Hill gap to the west bring a cool, dramatic diurnal shift at night. The first bottling of Few and Far Between debuted with the 2008 release.

The inner ring

Since 2005, all Hundred Acre wines have been made at the underground Ring winery beneath Ark vineyard, whose shape holds symbolic meaning. On each Hundred Acre bottle is a 24-carat gold ring fired into the glass rim. ‘It is my vow never to compromise. Death before dishonour,’ says Woodbridge.
The air inside the caves is pristine and fresh because a highly effective atmosphere treatment system (designed for NASA and used on the International Space Station, Woodbridge states) employs ‘a matrix of ultra-high intensity ultraviolet bulbs’ that destroys volatile organic compounds and scrambles the DNA of any virus, mould, fungus or spore, rendering them inert. Ozone gas and ozonated water are also used to clean all surfaces and sub-surface drains.
Touring the cave, we pass wine ageing in T5 Taransaud and Demptos barrels with medium-plus and high toasts, among others. Once bungs are sealed, no wine is removed for 30 months. We circle past unusual upright elliptical oak tanks, which Woodbridge had custom-designed to help ‘spread the heat signature’ during fermentation. Ageing is done in 225-litre barriques, 500-litre puncheons and 400-litre hogsheads. ‘Wine in different barrels moves in different times. I’m creating wines with time layered in, to slow time down for us.’
Bare vines in Hundred Acre’s Ark vineyard during winter

Only the best

The single-vineyard Cabernets are distinct and elaborately constructed, forming full-flavoured elixirs, hypnotic and haunting. They pull at your senses, drawing you in, then dance on the palate with grace and elegance – like a cut gem that shines within itself. The alcohol levels are high – often between 15% and 16% – but the wines remain remarkably balanced.
Woodbridge crafts the final cuvées in his mind. He blends the wines rapidly and rarely makes adjustments. Any wine that doesn’t make the cut is destroyed. The only non-estate grapes are used in blends for the Fortunate Son and Summer Dreams labels.
Woodbridge purchased the David Fulton Vineyard in St. Helena, and a winery on site is presently the home of Fortunate Son. Some 5.8 hectares of Cabernet Sauvignon vines surrounding the winery are farmed by Barbour. Woodbridge is eyeing the future of Hundred Acre as a generational enterprise. He appointed his son Cameron as cellarmaster at Fortunate Son in 2023. In another move to increase his land assets, Woodbridge acquired a second estate vineyard for the Fortunate Son label in 2022 called Larkmead Vineyards. The 7.4-hectare ranch has been renamed True Romance and will serve as the site of a future Forstuante son winery and estate, slated to open in 2027. Presently, seven wines with fanciful names like The Warrior and The Diplomat are produced for Fortunate Son, all Cabernet Sauvignon-based blends with support from Merlot and Petite Sirah
In 2019, Woodbridge began making Chardonnay and Pinot Noir wines under the Summer Dreams label from cool-climate vineyards in the extreme Sonoma Coast. Ashley Holland, a protege of legendary Williams Selyem and Three Sticks winemaker Bob Cabral, helms the cellar. A winery for Summer Dreams is being built outside Healdsburg and will be fully operational in 2024. Jayson describes it as ‘completely custom designed like a cross between a templar citadel and Space X and NASA’.
The Ring winery is not open to the public, but Fortunate Son and Summer Dreams will offer appointments. One third of production is reserved for restaurant clients such as the Jean-Georges group, The h.wood Group, Hakkasan and Zuma London, to name a few.

Shroud of secrecy

Woodbridge can be cryptic and jocular, alluding to himself, more than once, as immortal; however, having turned 60, he and an entourage of close friends, associates and players in the Hundred Acre Wine Group are working to ensure the brand’s longevity long after its founder has shuffled off this mortal coil.
The wines are exceptional, and the only obstacle may be the mystique of Hundred Acre itself. Woodbridge has amassed a loyal following, including celebrities such as actor
Mark Wahlberg, who told me that ‘some of the most memorable times in my life’ had been spent at the Woodbridge home.
My efforts to pry further into Woodbridge’s past are met with little response, if any. ‘We can’t allow indiscretion. The slightest change of course can change the wine fundamentally,’ he says, drumming forcefully on the table before adding with a relaxed smile: ‘I’m talking too much. I only care that the truth is told about what we’re trying to do here.’

Fortunate Son

Founded 2018 (formerly the David Fulton Winery) – St Helena, California
Owned by Jayson and Helen Woodbridge
Key vineyards Home Estate and Fortunate, at the historic David Fulton Winery, both surrounding the winery on the property in St Helena
Key wines The Diplomat, The Dreamer, The Voyager, The Warrior

Summer Dreams

Founded 2018 – Healdsburg, California
Owned by Jayson and Helen Woodbridge
Key vineyards True Romance (bought in 2022, off Larkmead Lane north of St Helena), Peterson Ranch in Dry Creek Valley
Key wines Lazy Lounging Chardonnay, Walking on Venice Beach Sauvignon Blanc, Golden Hour Pinot Noir, Stargazing Pinot Noir, Super Chill Pinot Noir, Twilight Pinot Noir

Jonathan Cristaldi's picks

2022 Walking on Venice Beach 97 Points

Terrific purity of fruit ranging from fragrant tangerine and lemon blossoms to a richer palate of apricots, lime zest and amazing saline minerality. Bright acid tension offers a lift to the wet stone finish. 80% Sauvignon Blanc, 20% Musqué. Aged in high-grade stainless steel, expensive new French oak barriques, and pink-staved acacia wood.


2021 Golden Hour 97 Points

Here is a Pinot you’d want to enjoy with a great cigar, for it leads with terrific tobacco spices and cedarwood layered with a tapestry of raspberry and cranberry fruit and slivers of dark chocolate. Full-flavoured and full-bodied, richly floral and totally enticing. 100% Pinot Noir from West Sonoma Coast. The whole berries are fermented in Taransaud puncheons and barriques. Bottled unfined.


2021 Twilight 96 Points

The most brooding and dark of the Summer Dreams Pinot Noirs, with plenty of racy acid to balance the density of ripe, succulent black cherry and black plum fruit. It’s got the salty sea-spray notes of a dark, misty fog rolling into the Sonoma Coast from the Pacific Ocean, and that minerality builds on the palate with an intense soy-like savouriness.


2021 Stargazing 95 Points

The colour of a polished ruby stone harbours a cooling richness framed by mineral freshness, spices, and perfectly integrated tannins. Splashes of elegant red berry fruit intermix with sandalwood and cedar while a cacophony of cream red and black fruit layers linger and build on the full-bodied finish, which is fresh and full of juicy blood orange acidity.


2021 Super Chill Pinot Noir 95 Points

Super aromatic, and I love the texture of this wine. It’s very plush with a warmth of sweet spices, elegant cedarwood notes, fragrant star anise, crunchy cranberry and blood orange. Complex, juicy, and layered with dark chocolate, savoury baking spices and red florals on the long, full-bodied finish. A 100% Pinot Noir from West Sonoma Coast and the Freestone-Occidental sub-AVA.



Related Articles

When I create something, the wine tells me what to do. I don’t tell the wine what to do.


Map Maker: Summer Dreams, Fortunate Son and Hundred Acre New Releases

The Wine Independent | Lisa Perrotti-Brown

“I’m a direct descendent of Jacques Cartier, the cartographer,” Jayson Woodbridge tells me, seemingly apropos of nothing. But nothing is random or out of context with Jayson. For example, he describes Cartier as a cartographer, not an explorer—the profession by which Cartier is better known. With Jayson, every casually offered piece of shared information is specific and purposeful, whether you get it or not.


Recent Releases from Hundred Acre, Fortunate Son and Summer Dreams

The Wine Advocate | Lisa Perrotti-Brown

At the end of this year, I caught up with Jayson and Helen Woodbridge at their house nestled within the Few and Far Between vineyard in Calistoga.

Our Collection

discover the style and spirit of Sonoma Coast wines

Pinot Noir

Golden Hour

Due to the more eastern orientation of the vineyard, this wine is a riper and fuller expression of a mix of red and purple fruits.

Pinot Noir


Glimmering in the glass like a polished ruby stone, splashes of red berry fruit linger with cedar and sandalwood.

Pinot Noir

Super Chill

Red fruit-forward with cranberry and raspberry notes, very textural in the mouth, and has a lifted finish.

Pinot Noir


A dark edge with dark fruit, black cherry, and black plum with hints of the salty sea-spray and misty fog rolling into the Sonoma Coast from the Pacific Ocean.

Bottle of Summer Dreams Twilight


The Sun Also Rises

An intertwining of Sonoma coastal notes featuring lemon drop candy and lemon verbena are supported by a subtle oak frame.

Sauvignon Blanc

Walking On Venice Beach

White flower, stone fruit and Asiatic tropical fruit notes with a textural mid palate, vibrant acid, and a racy finish.


Martian Pink

To create a truly special rosé, we use a blend of winemaking techniques on 100% Pinot Noir grapes. A mailing list EXCLUSIVE.

Summer is a state of mind