Winemaker Jesse Katz


By the time he graduated high school in Boulder, Colorado, winemaker Jesse Katz had already traveled to the most famous winemaking regions in the world. His family had explored over sixty countries while following the works of his well known photographer father, Andy Katz. It was his visits to Burgundy, Tuscany, Napa, and Sonoma that ignited Jesse’s appreciation for great wine and regional terroir. His stays at Chateau Mouton Rothschild, Argiano, Sassaccia, and Domaine Leflaive left him with fond memories of playing in the vineyards and cellars of these legendary wine houses.

Jesse’s desire to be a winemaker became apparent while working at Fess Parker winery in Los Olivos, California at the age of eighteen. He was a young lab assistant who immediately fell in love with the art of winemaking and its interplay between science and nature. His experience led him to pursue a Bachelor of Science degree in Enology and minor in Chemistry from Fresno State University, where he received a full scholarship. At school he had the opportunity to make wine on campus for the first time. “This was a great hands-on educational experience for me, because no one in my family had ever made wine before.”

After finishing school, Jesse surrounded himself with some of the most respected winemakers in the world. He worked six harvests in just three years, spending half the year in Argentina with Hans Vinding-Diers, winemaker at Bodega Noemia in Patagonia and with Paul Hobbs in Mendoza at Viña Cobos. His internship experience in California included work for Bob Foley at Hourglass and at Screaming Eagle, working alongside renowned winemaker Andy Erickson. As winemaker for both Lancaster Estate and Roth Estate since 2010, Jesse has brought to bear his handcrafted style of terrior driven winemaking in producing their most highly acclaimed wines to date.

In 2012, Jesse launched his own winemaking venture with the creation of Devil Proof Vineyards. “Like my father’s ability to tell amazing stories through his photography, my greatest joy is finding ways to artistically express the wonderful experiences I have had in the places I have traveled.” Devil Proof will be the ultimate representation of this expression in the form of beautifully handcrafted wines made near Jesse’s home in the Alexander Valley. In honor of his early winemaking experiences in Argentina, the inaugural offering from Devil Proof will be a single vineyard Malbec from Farrow Ranch. When he’s not spending time in the vineyards or the cellar, Jesse loves to travel and be outdoors. To date he has visited over 70 countries, recently traveling to Namibia, Rotan, and the Galapagos Islands on a diving expedition with his father. To relax, Jesse spends many evenings walking the vineyards with his wife Sarah and their dog Giacomo.

Jesse’s March, 2016 video interview discussing his passion for winemaking and the story behind his brands.