Jay grew up on a family farm in the Walla Walla area. After receiving a BS in Agronomy from Washington State University, he worked for several years as a licensed crop advisor in Northern California. It was during this time that he developed a fondness for great Cabs and gained expertise in grape production. He and his wife Debbie moved back to Walla Walla in 1987 with the goal of raising their children closer to extended family.

Jay made hobby wine with some friends beginning in the 1990s, and, to satisfy his growing interest, he enrolled in several courses from The University of California at Davis' program in Winemaking. He helped the Minnick family establish Minnick Hills Vineyard in 1999 and later managed it along with other Walla Walla area vineyards. Encouraged by the garage wine results, he and Doug Harvey founded Dumas Station Wines in 2003.