Novavine Grafts 6 Million Vines Per Year

With an emphasis on premium quality, Novavine — a Sonoma-based grapevine nursery — is happy to be associated with Lake County growers as an Affiliate Sponsor of the Lake County Winegrape Commission.

Jay Jensen, CEO, Novavine“Our nursery caters to premium grape growing, and we believe Lake County is a premium winegrape growing region,” says Jay Jensen, chief executive officer and owner of the business. “We want to help create high-end vineyards, and Lake County is a targeted region for us. We want to do all we can to help promote Lake County and be an integral part of its wine industry success.”

Novavine is a full-service nursery offering green potted vines, bare root vines and bare root rootings. The nursery also provides olive trees, stocking over two dozen varieties.

Inside Novavine Nursery greenhouse

According to Jensen, Novavine is the only nursery in the North Coast that employs a full-time viticulturist to provide expertise and input to growers. Jeff Wheeler, who obtained his Master’s degree from UC Davis, also heads up Novavine’s extensive testing program, overseeing quality control and special projects. “Cleanliness of stock” is an important part of his job.

Jensen, who became CEO in 2003, has strong ties to Lake County. He was born and raised in Lakeport, and his family owned vineyards in the Kelseyville area.

Novavine was founded in 1996 by Jensen’s mother Ellen Heath and her husband Milton. Jensen says the two of them formed Novavine after playing with the idea of establishing a vine nursery and eventually getting serious about it. They sought out expertise from “someone who was already doing it,” says Jensen, and partnered with the well-known Italian grapevine nursery Vivai Cooperativi Rauscedo (VCR) in 1998.

Calling his mother a “great lady with a lot of gumption,” Jensen says Ellen would see a project through once she set her mind on it. He credits her with the business’s early success and with Novavine’s first motto, “Quality by Choice.” Ellen passed away in 2014.

Jensen, who had a business administration background, assisted the Heaths with their negotiations with the Italians. From 1998 through 2002, VCR loaned their staff and know-how to Novavine. The Heaths provided infrastructure, sales, and administration.

Later in 1998 the business moved to the east side of Santa Rosa, on Highway 12. At the time, Novavine grafted 35,000 vines. Calling the nursery medium-sized in comparison to other grapevine nurseries, Jensen says Novavine now grafts over 6 million vines a year.

Close up of Novavine Winegrape Grafting

Novavine is located at 6735 Sonoma Highway, Santa Rosa, CA 95409. For additional information about its services and products, contact Michael Monette, vineyard consultant/sales representative for Lake County, at (707) 339-9765 or or Christine Palmberg, inside sales, at (707) 539-5678 or Also, visit the web site at

Written by Susan Stout

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