Duckhorn acquires Calera

Duckhorn acquires Calera

The big winery news this week for readers of Wine behind the label is the acquisition of the Calera winery, producer of some cult Pinot Noirs by the Duckhorn winery group.

The Calera winery was established by Josh Jenson in 1975 when he planted vines on limestone rich soils and at significant altitude near the small town of Salinas, inland just to the north-west of Monterey. At the time it was a very unusual approach for a winery owner in California. The reputation of Calera is based on now six single vineyard Pinot Noirs that have achieved almost iconic status. Other wines have been made from different sources under the Central Coast regional banner, however output is very small when compared to the new owners.

Duckhorn group famed for its Napa Valley Merlot also includes five other brands Paraduxx, Goldeneye, Migration, Decoy and Canvasback. Total output is now not far short of a million cases a year. Jenson is now in his seventies and understandably wishes to step back a little. None of his children are involved in wine making. He will though remain involved to some degree. The new owners plan to retain the integrity of the single vineyard wines but have the opportunity to build on the volume of wines released from across the Central Coast.

Wine behind the label – Calera profile:

Best-known for its single-vineyard Pinot Noirs that have at times approached cult status. Josh Jensen’s objective is to handcraft wines that have more to do with classic Burgundy than with some of the more typically fruit driven, squeaky-clean examples from his California contemporaries. On occasion the results are less than perfect but generally these are benchmarks for the state. There are now two further vineyard sources for Pinot Noir, Ryan and de Villiers, which were both planted in the late 1990s. The regular Central Coast wines are good if unspectacular and the Viognier is very good when not overly alcoholic. Aligoté is also now made in very small quantities. The winery was the first to be completely gravity-fed. (DM)


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