Jim Moore, Proprietor/Winemaker, l'Uvaggio di Giacomo – aka Giacomo

For a person who has walked many vineyard rows over several decades for numerous others, the creation and development of his own wine label - Uvaggio - is a gratifying achievement.  Jim Moore's innovative approach toward winemaking, in combination with traditional techniques, serve him well in crafting wines with a distinct Italian flare, from grapes grown in the New World.  His wines dispel most, if not all, preconceptions. 

Their style is true to everything Italianate and in tasting them blind, one might actually imagine they might come from Italy.  Then when you scrutinizes the spare Uvaggio label with its distinctive look, different from almost anything having to do with ‘yesterday's' packaging, it radiates a contemporary feel - whether it comes from California or Italy.  However looks aside, with just one taste it is evident these are not typical wines from a typical winemaker.  With a career spanning more than three decades, having worked throughout California's diverse regions (and in several parts of Italy), across a range of cultivars (everything from Arneis to Zinfandel), he has an atypical breadth of experience, differentiating him and the wines of Uvaggio from the vast sea of California's typical, Franco-centric offerings.

Jim's interest in Italian varietals began long before Pinot Grigio became ubiquitous in our market, now found on wine lists and store shelves across the county.  His interest began in college, while working in restaurants and then for a fine wine retailer.  With exposure to a vast spectrum of the world of wine as the essential motivator, it launched him on a quest for a career in winemaking, to experience and to understand how fine wine is crafted.  So he moved to Napa Valley in 1976 and during the next three harvests worked for several Napa wineries.

Then in September 1979, Jim joined Robert Mondavi Winery in Oakville, beginning a two decade long tenure at what is perhaps California's most renowned, if not iconic, winery.  Initially he held various production and supervisorial positions, while still questing to achieve his goal.  He ultimately did so in1988, when he was promoted to their enology department and began working to help guide (and in some instances, actually define) the winemaking styles.  At this point and for the next seven years he continued his education by taking winemaking and business courses at UC Davis.

 

Around this period his palate for Italian wines was recalibrated, after exposure to the exceptional vintages of 1982 and 1985.  These vintages were contemporaneous with an increased awareness of wine quality in Italy and in some instances they even involved revolutionary production techniques.  Inspired by these wines he worked on developing two vineyard trial blocks to evaluate the performance and gauge the merchantability of specific grape varieties and different clones, primarily Italian and secondarily from the Rhone.  Also he helped to develop their Burgundian inspired, Carneros appellation Chardonnay and Pinot noir, reintroduced Zinfandel and revamped the wine style and packaging for Moscato d'Oro - a proprietary dessert wine.  Additionally he created and developed La Famiglia di Robert Mondavi in California, while helping launch Luce and Lucente from Tuscany - a collaborative effort with the Frescobaldi family of Florence. 

His work at Mondavi earned many accolades - two of the Zinfandels he crafted were honored by Wine Spectator's Top 100 Wines of the Year, as was a bottling of Luce.  A subsequent bottling of Luce garnered a coveted “tre bicchiere” (three glasses - their highest rating) from the Gambero Rosso, Italy's pre-eminent wine guide. Toward the end of his tenure at Mondavi, he was promoted to Assistant Winemaker and worked to help elevate the quality of Mondavi's entire Napa Valley portfolio while investigating new winemaking techniques and working with the General Manager to incorporate all the applicable ideas into their To Kalon cellar renovation.

In 1998, Moore left Mondavi to develop l'Uvaggio di Giacomo, (“the Blends of James”) which he had begun with the 1997 vintage.  Concurrently he helped as the consulting winemaker for five new Napa Valley start-up ventures, all while holding a ‘day job' as the general manager and winemaker for a small, family winery in St Helena.  In early 2003 he became the Director of Winemaking for Bonny Doon Vineyard/Ca' del Solo in Santa Cruz, leaving to devote himself full time to revitalizing his Uvaggio project

Today the Uvaggio label (much simpler and easier to pronounce) proves to have been worth the long wait and considerable effort.  The portfolio consists of Vermentino, Rosato, Primitivo, Moscato (both secco & dolce) and Barbera - offering neophytes and aficionados alike with accessible wines possessing vibrant flavors, framed within a classic structure, all offered at moderate prices.  With key attributes like lower levels of alcohol, distinctive flavor profiles and harmonious expressions - these wines are crafted for food affinity, bringing an Italian sensibility to the American table.  Jim's philosophy is that wine's primary role is to accompany food, which results in three important attributes – their accessibility, harmony and value.

Jim Moore is a graduate of UCLA and has traveled extensively in Italy; especially Tuscany, Piedmont, Friuli and Trentino - as well as Burgundy and Bordeaux in France in studying their vineyards, winemaking techniques and even coopering.  He resides in Napa with his wife, a librarian and educator, where they explore new culinary and vinous horizons daily.