Calera Wine Company is the passion project of a certain Josh Jensen, and one which has grown to be recognized as one of Central California’s key wineries, producing some of the state’s most interesting, European-style wines. Jensen spent time as a young man working the cellars and fields of France’s Burgundy region, where he became obsessed by Pinot Noir and the factors which go into making Burgundy the undisputed champion of this grape varietal. His conclusion was it was down to a combination of the temperate climate of the region, and the calcium rich soils which the area possesses. Upon returning to the US, he spent years combing the land, looking for an equivalent soil type on which to grow his own Pinot Noir vines - a varietal which, in the 70s at least, was considered ungrowable to any level of quality in the United States.
Before too long, he’s found his land - at the foot of Mount Harlan in the Gavilan Mountains. His Pinot Noir vines thrived in the limestone soils, proving his theory correct, and allowing him to set up the Calera Wine Company. Today, his project is stronger than ever, and his vision of creating Californian Pinot Noir to rival that of Burgundy is complete, with critics hailing the depths and nuances of his produce with each vintage. Jensen will say that this success is all down to his terroir - that Burgundian soil type, the oceanic breezes that blow in from the Pacific, and the long, hot Californian days and cool nights that lead to ripened grapes of great balance. But some credit must go to the winemaker himself and his dedicated team, who follow an ideology of low intervention and using natural processes and techniques to bring out the best in their fruit. The minimalist approach he employs in each of his five vineyards around the Mount Harlan appellation aims to express as much of the fruit’s natural, fundamental qualities as possible, and partly because of his hard work and vision, Californian Pinot Noir has found a voice and a home. His wines have even received praise back in Burgundy, where they’ve been compared to the best of that famed region’s aged Pinot Noir wines.