“Know from whence you came. If you know whence you came, there are absolutely no limitations to where you can go.” – James Baldwin
A native of Châteauroux, a small town south of Orleans in Central France, Jérôme Chéry grew up around wine. He had his first sip of Champagne when he was 10 years old, while his father regaled him with poetic descriptions of his favorite Pommard. As a young man, Chéry went on to study oenology and agriculture, earning his degree from the University of Burgundy in Dijon.
Following winemaking apprenticeships in Provence, Languedoc Roussillon, and the Loire Valley, he headed to Australia’s Swan Valley for a time before moving to California to become the assistant winemaker at Newton Vineyards in the Napa Valley. Following a brief stint working as an oenologist for winemaker John Kongsgaard at Luna Vineyards, Chéry landed a job that would definitively shape his career. For the next five years, he would work on the Sonoma Coast, alongside the legendary Ted Lemon at Littorai. Lemon encouraged Chéry to rely on his intuition and guided him through a deep understanding of vintage-by-vintage farming. Armed with a deeper understanding of California’s diverse, complex terroirs, he gained an even greater appreciation for Pinot Noir and Chardonnay. In 2004, he joined Saintsbury Winery in the Carneros region, where he would spend ten years exploring these grape varieties and varietal wines. While there, he was promoted to Director of Winemaking.
Today, Chéry is the winemaker at Fog Crest Vineyards in the Russian River Valley AVA and at Gentleman Farmer Wines in the Napa Valley. When he’s not in the cellar or the vineyard, Chéry can usually be found cooking, dining out, or traveling; his three loves. Chéry came out at the age of 36, and we celebrate him and all of our LGTBQIA wine community this Pride Month. Here, presented with the Proust Questionnaire, Chery talks Clarice Starling, black coffee, Bora Bora, and having no regrets.
What is your idea of perfect happiness?
Breakfast in bed once the harvest is completed with homemade croissants, black coffee and sugar, with great company.
What is your greatest fear?
To die alone and in pain.
What is your greatest extravagance?
To fly to Bora Bora every other weekend. I wish! Recently, getting my vintage watch fixed. Ouch. But that’s my only greatest extravagance to date.
What is the quality you most like in a man?
What is the quality you most like in a woman?
Which words or phrases do you most overuse?
“To begin with,” “The thing is,” “That’s for sure.”
Which talent would you most like to have?
To play the violin.
If you could change one thing about yourself, what would it be?
To be more patient.
What do you consider your greatest achievement?
Becoming the winemaker at Saintsbury at 34 years old, coupled with a green card sponsorship. Hopefully, there are more to come!
Where would you like to live?
In Provence, drinking Bandol Rosé and Pastis.
What is your most treasured possession?
My dad’s and his dad’s gold signet ring.
Who are your heroes in real life?
My mom for teaching me so much and being such an amazing mom. My dad, who is fighting cancer. My late paternal grandfather, who joined the French Resistance very early on during World War II.
Who are your heroes in fiction?
Wonderwoman, Spiderman and Clarice Starling.
What are your favorite names?
Romaric, Sylvère and Anaïs.
What is it that you most dislike?
If you were to die and come back as a person or thing, what do you think it would be?
It would be Mahatma Gandhi, Martin Luther King, and Nelson Mandela in one person. We need that person!
What is your greatest regret?
I really have no regrets.
How would you like to die?
In the company of my family and friends, drinking vintage Champagne while listening to Ella Fitzgerald singing Cole Porter.
What is your motto?
Life is too short, let’s make the best of it.