Jeff Ames was born in Germany, but had a thoroughly Southern upbringing, spending most of his childhood in Memphis, and moving to Mobile, Alabama to attend high school. After high school, Jeff went to the University of Alabama, receiving a B.A. in History, with the idea of eventually attaining his law degree. But it quickly became clear to Jeff that law was not his calling. While working on his Masters in Education at the University of Memphis, Jeff took a job at a small wine shop to earn extra money. Wine immediately captivated him, and he began applying for harvest positions in wineries all over Oregon and California. He got back two replies, one from Lynn Penner-Ash at Rex Hill in Oregon who immediately hired him to work harvest.
What was supposed to be a short hiatus from his Masters program quickly became a career and a consuming passion. Jeff came to the Napa Valley in 1999, and began learning every aspect of the wine industry from sales, at WineBid.com, to writing, while doing freelance work for Decanter Magazine. In 2001, Jeff was able to return to what he loved the most, winemaking, when he began working as assistant winemaker under Thomas Brown on projects including Schrader, Maybach, Outpost, and Tor. In 2003, he took over as head winemaker for Tor, where he continues to make critically acclaimed wines from some of California’s most notable vineyards.
In 2005, Jeff launched his own label, Rudius Wines, under which he produces Cabernet Sauvignon and several Rhone varietals. Since 2008, Jeff has been the Tayson Pierce Estate Wines Head Winemaker. In 2018, he will produce a California Rose, a Hudson Vineyard Chardonnay and a StageCoach Cabernet Sauvignon for Tayson Pierce.