About Melvyn and Janie Master
Mel and Janie are from England but both now US citizens. Mel has been in the wine business ever since leaving school and he met Janie when they were only twelve and thirteen (she played the piano and he played the guitar!) and as they grew up together, they shared a passion for food and wine. They married at 19 and 20.
The couple left England to live in France in 1970 and started a company called Master Wines and began selling little known French wines in the USA. Mel was a pioneer in bringing great wine values to the USA from France.
In addition to promoting small estates from the South of France and pioneering the wines from the Rhône Valley, Mel was also the person who introduced and promoted the wines of Georges Duboeuf in the USA.
The Wines of the Côtes du Rhône
While living in France in the 1970s, Mel also coauthored the first major work on the wines of the Côtes du Rhône. It was published by Faber and Faber and the coauthor was John Livingstone Learmonth. Mel became one of the foremost authorities on the wines from the Rhône and Southern France.
In 1980 Mel and Janie left France and took on the task of opening and setting up all the marketing and PR for the new Jordan winery in Sonoma County, California, and Mel has been credited with the initial marketing success of Jordan. Mel was involved with all aspects of the winery from production to sales and marketing.
Jams in New York
After the success of Jordan, Mel and Janie left California for New York and got together with friend Jonathan Waxman (who was the first chef for Alice Waters at Chez Panisse in Berkeley, California) and opened Jams (Jonathan and Melvyn's). It was one of the hottest and most successful restaurants of New York in the 1980s and the first Californian style restaurant. Mel and Jonathan also opened Buds and Hulots in New York and later Jams in London. They sold the restaurants in the late1980s and Mel and Janie returned to France.
Les Jamelles, Vin de Pays d’Oc Wines
Mel started work again in the wine business in 1992 and introduced a line of varietal wines from the Languedoc district of the South of France into the USA market under the label Les Jamelles. He was the first person to start promoting and selling single varietal wines from France. He sold Les Jamelles in early 1996 and two years later began Tortoise Creek.
Mel’s Bar and Grill in Denver
In early 1995 Mel, Janie and their son Charles also opened Mel’s Bar and Grill in Denver which was named by Esquire magazine as one of the top 25 new restaurants in the USA and was featured in a 5 page article on the restaurant in the February 1998 issue of Food and Wine magazine. Mel’s was also acclaimed in Gourmet, Bon Appetite and other national publications.
Tortoise Creek Wines
Mel and Janie now produce wines from California and France called Tortoise Creek, after their home many years ago in France which was called Le riseau de Tortue. They are amongst today’s most popular value wines and have received many accolades from the wine press.
Tortoise Creek is a range of wines that are blended by Mel and Janie and which come from small growers and wine makers who are making exceptional varietal wines, that are full of fruit and depth and character and representing amazing values. Most of the production of all Tortoise Creek wines comes from sustainably grown vineyards where no pesticides are used and yields are kept low.
Tiamo Organic Wines
Mel has also pioneered a small select range of organically farmed wines from Italy which are also terrific values and great quality.
Silver Spoon Award
In 2006 Mel and Janie were awarded the coveted Silver Spoon award from Food Arts magazine for services to the wine and food industry.
Charles Master owned and operated Brix Wine Bar in Cherry Creek, Colorado after being the
Catering MGR at The Caribou Club in Aspen. He also helped create the wines of Les Jamelles for
his Dad and Mom, lived in France and traveled all over to help market them. He spent 4 years
in Bordeaux working at Chateau Prieure Lichine in Margaux , as he wanted to follow in his
fathers’ footsteps. Now the family stays close thru the love and passion they put into each bottle
of Tortoise Creek and Tiamo.