Listening to speak reverently, almost tearfully, about being amongst 100+ year old Zinfandel vines in some long neglected vineyard in the California hills makes it easy to understand why she does what she does. Jen has been the winemaker for The Prisoner Wine Company since 2011. She hosted a wine lunch and tasting at Boulder’s Cork restaurant and she was extremely informative, entertaining and enthusiastic.

Jen became interested in wine when she did a college year abroad in Spain. While her friends went to the beaches in the Canary Islands she went to the vineyards. Upon her return, she finished school and was exposed more to wine by a mentor who was trying to convince her to go to medical school. Instead she went to work for Cline Vineyards, working primarily in the cellar and doing all sorts of odd jobs.. She then went on to Ravenswood and while working there got her enology training at UC Davis. She eventually went on to become winemaker there.

While on maternity leave she ran into the new owner of the Prisoner Wine Company in a restaurant and before she knew it she became their winemaker. Jen’s focus on winemaking is twofold. First is to continue to make the full bodied, highly flavorful wines that allowed Dave Phinney (the original owner and winemaker) to make “The Prisoner” famous. She doesn’t want to alter the brand –she wants to preserve it. To do this brings in the second aspect of her wine focus –terroir. She has fought to keep the wine’s designation as California (normally a designation suggesting entry level wines) so she can hand pick the vineyards she wants to use in the wines from anywhere in California. For example she can find the very best Cabernet, Syrah, Zinfandel, Petite Sirah and Merlot vineyards even if they are located hundreds of miles apart in different appellations from each other.

Her duties as winemaker and representative of the company, along with being a wife and mother, keep her very busy but she still manages to find time for her two favorite activities – gardening and hiking. As she looked out the window at the foothills of the Rockies you could tell that although she was enjoying her time with us, she would have loved to be up in them. We were lucky enough to taste through the entire portfolio of her wines: Blinfold, Saldo, Thorn, The Prisoner, and Cuttings. The wines were all stunning. Although proud of the wines there was an endearing humbleness about her and it seemed hard for her to conceal the pure joy she felt from making them. Jen Beloz is a remarkable lady. The Prisoner Wine company – and the wine industry in general- is lucky to have her.