Calera Wine Co.

About

Producing great wine is our number one priority and very simply put, there are no compromises. There was no question in Josh Jensen’s mind that he would plant his first grapes on limestone-rich soil, and so began his quest to find the perfect site to produce a California wine to rival the best French burgundies. This site turned out to be a barely accessible mountainside in the central part of the state, but now more than 35 years later and in spite of prevailing opinion that Pinot Noir grapes could not be successfully grown in the U.S., Calera is a symbol of perseverance and grace, and remains a true pioneer in California Pinot Noir.

Location Description

Located in the heart of Hollister, California.

Features

  • Our mission is to bring Burgundy style wines to California, grown on limestone rock.

Additional Information

  • Meeting / Conference Facilities:
  • Caves:
  • Wedding Facilities:
  • Picnic Facilities:
  • Dog Friendly:
  • Winery Tours:
  • Wine Tasting:
  • Art or Architecture:
  • Organic / Biodynamic:
  • Awards:
  • Wine Club:
  • Lodging / Bed & Breakfast:

Winemaker

MIKE WALLER:

A Hollister native Mike grew up just ten miles from Calera. As a homebrewer he discovered a passion for fermentations, and caught the wine bug on a visit to Napa Valley. He was so serious that he attended UC Davis to study Viticulture and Enology. First harvest at Saintsbury and a subsequent short stint at Beringer was followed by a move to the Central Coast in 2004 to work at Chalone Vineyard. He was hired at Calera in 2007, a great opportunity to make wine close to his roots.

History

Josh made Calera's first wine in 1975, 1000 cases of zinfandel, produced from purchased grapes. During his first two years as a winemaker, he made the Calera wines in a rented space in a larger nearby winery.

In 1977 Josh purchased property on which to build the winery. He chose a 100 acre site on Cienega Road halfway between the vineyard and the town of Hollister. Located 1000 feet lower in elevation than the vineyard, this property was blessed with the all-important attributes of a paved road, and both telephone and electrical service (services which to this day are unavailable on Mt. Harlan).

On the Cienega Road property. a multi-level rock crushing facility had been built into the steep hillside in the 1950s. The facility was abandoned before it was ever used for crushing rock, but 20 years later the walls and terraces, with some substantial seismic retro-fitting, (the San Andreas fault lies just 100 yards away) became the heart of Calera's gravity-flow winery. The multi-layered hillside construction has allowed for the gentlest possible handling of the Calera wines. Wines move through the winemaking process by the mere force of gravity, rather than by the use of pumps.

After decades of improvements and construction today the winery boasts barrel cellars built into the hillside, additional warehouse space, an underground wine library, offices and a laboratory (a major improvement over the previous 50' office trailer), a top-of-the-line German grape press, and most recently, a new Italian bottling line.

The Team

JOSH JENSEN:

You can immediately tell when you meet Josh that he doesn’t really follow the herd. Always decked out in bold colors and unique attire he stands out (and above) a crowd in stature. Not only does his outward appearance make you step up and take notice, but there is a quiet reverence he has that draws you in, inviting you to question, explore and dive in. Visionary is an understatement, Josh doesn’t ask why or how but sees the goal in perfect clarity and walks towards it, sometimes with blatant disregard for logic. No feasibility studies or side roads just hard work to get to his goal.

JIM RYAN - Vineyard Manager:

Dedicated to agriculture at Mt. Harlan since 1975 Jim tends the vines with Zelda his trusty Jack Russell Terrier at his side. Jim was born and raised in San Francisco and attended San Francisco City College before pursuing viticulture at Cal Poly, San Luis Obispo. Since 1979 Jim has been an integral part of the team, raising the original plantings and adding new ones as he also tended to his three daughters.

MARTA RICH - National and Global Sales Manager:

Marta Rich will remember you! Whether you met her at a tasting in Milwaukee or in an airport along the way Marta is a professional people lover. She takes her job seriously and loves to connect with Calera lovers across the country bringing the fruits of Josh’s labor to those who can’t visit in person.

JUDY VARGAS - Office Manager:

When Judy arrived at Calera in 1991 she thought it would be a temporary post. She started out packing wine boxes, filing and invoicing. Although at the start she couldn’t even pronounce “Pinot Noir” she learned quickly and soon was in charge of all orders for the United States and abroad. She has gone from expert box packer to actually managing most of what goes on at the winery. Overall she keeps the place and its people organized which is no small task.

LINDSAY CARREIRO - Customer Service / Shipping Manager:

Lindsay has been an intricate part of the Calera office staff since early 2008. A busy mother of two, delights all of the staff and customers with her quirky sense of humor. She is a key customer service employee managing shipping and compliance, overseeing our consumer orders, inventory and wine clubs. She is also another friendly face in the tasting room when needed during the week. Her attention to detail helps in the accurate completion of consumer and distributor sales and she is a valued member of our staff. Her dedication to her job is truly reflected in her notable punctuality and enthusiasm.

NADA SPARLING - Controller:

Nada has been handling the finances at Calera since 2006. She pays bills, processes payroll, monthly financial and sales reports, banking and all the year-end accounting. Because of her infectious team spirit she will basically help out wherever needed. You’ll see her at special events helping out with the wine and food too. She is a San Benito County native going back six generations.

KATE MAHORN - Tasting Room, Hospitality and Event Coordinator:

Kate Mayhorn has been a part of the Calera team since 2012. She is a prominent presence during the week in our tasting room as well as part of the office staff. She brought with her years of customer service experience along with a background in catering and event planning which she uses in arranging our wine club and special events. Hospitality is her passion which she provides with a friendly reception to our guests along with the foods she prepares and selects to complement our wines.

ZANE POLETTI - Customer Service Representative:

Zane started at Calera in October 2014. He’s a Hollister local who graduated from University of Hawaii with a degree in communications. He brings a youthful energetic face to Calera and is our social media presence. He is our weekday tasting room salesperson, a real “Cave man” with a gift for gab during his informative tours. A great addition to the Calera group!

Practices & Techniques

To make great wine it is essential to employ the most gentle of methods in the winemaking process. We firmly believe in minimal intervention in the natural process of fermentation. Our multi-level, seven-tier, gravity-flow winery design allows optimal efficiency with gentle handling of the grapes, juice and wine.
We utilize non-interventionist winemaking techniques (with little to no pumping) allowing the wines to retain their purity and focus.

-We use native yeasts rather than inoculating
-We prefer whole cluster fermentations whenever possible
-Our wines are aged with minimal racking
-All of these techniques help to retain the sense of place and connection to the origin of the grapes - their true essence of terroir.

While there is no exact annual recipe for winemaking, grapes are harvested at their peak of ripeness and flavor. Pinot Noir is fermented in open-top fermenters, mostly whole cluster (uncrushed) at warm temperatures (90F). Punch downs aid in color extraction and lots are pressed after 14 days minimum. Single vineyard wines are aged in 60 gallon, 30% new French oak barrels for 16 months. Central Coast wines see a lower proportion (12-15%) of new oak for a shorter time (10-11 months).

White grapes arrive and are pressed whole cluster to remove skins and seeds. Viognier ferments in neutral oak barrels. After fermentation with native yeasts, barrels are stirred weekly until natural malolactic fermentation is complete. Viognier stays in neutral barrels for about eight months and Chardonnay aged 9-10 months on the lees, both in the same barrels in which they were fermented. For Mt. Harlan Chardonnay 25-30% of new oak is used each year, and for Central Coast Chardonnay it’s just 10-15%. The white wines are lightly fined with bentonite and given a light filtration. We feel that every time you touch the wine you take more away from the grape, so minimal handling is ideal.

Estate Vineyards / AVA

Calera’s vineyards soar at an average of 2200 feet above sea level and are cooled by the direct flow of cold marine air off the Pacific Ocean through the Monterey Bay coast, towards the upper elevations of the Gavilan Mountain range and Mt. Harlan. The elevation further moderates the climate in what many expect would be a hot growing region reducing the temperature about three degrees for every 1000 feet of height in elevation.

In 2008 California Certified Organic Farmers bestowed their certification on Calera for its organic farming practices. Like much of California the summer growing season is very dry which reduces the need for pesticides. Instead, beneficial insects to reduce pest bug populations, compost mixtures to enhance the organic content of the mountain soils, and cover crop methods to improve soil nutrient levels are natural ways to combat any viticultural problems. A dedicated vineyard crew makes multiple trips through the vines on a daily basis to ensure appropriate vineyard management to produce the best fruit possible. The fruit of their labor is precious with crops rarely exceeding two tons per acre, emphasizing quality over quantity.

Awards

WINERY OF THE YEAR
Wine & Spirits Magazine, 2011

WINERY OF THE YEAR
Wine & Spirits Magazine, 2009

96 POINTS Awarded to Calera Mt. Harlan Chardonnay by The Wine Advocate, Robert Parker, 2009

WINERY OF THE YEAR
Wine & Spirits Magazine, 2008

WINEMAKER OF THE YEAR San Francisco Chronicle, 2007

98 POINTS Awarded to Calera Pinot Noir Selleck Vineyard by The Wine Advocate, Robert Parker, 2007

97 POINTS Awarded to Calera Pinot Noir Jensen Vineyard by The Wine Advocate, Robert Parker, 2007

WINERY OF THE YEAR
Wine & Spirits Magazine, 2006

Reviews

1 Review
A Calder
Hollister
Great Pinot

I went wine tasting to my favorite winery, DeRose Vineyards, and they recommended that I try out Calera, they were right. Wonderful Pinot Noirs and a great ambiance.

March 2017

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Hours

Open 11am-4:30pm daily.

Address

11300 Cienega Road
Hollister , California 95023
United States

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