Chase down your passion like it’s the last bus of the night. ~ Terri Guillemets
Earlier this year, I was asked to assist Regal Wine Imports with some of their internal scheduling in addition to managing their travel. In this capacity, I have been fortunate to connect with some new wine producers. One of those is Calluna Vineyards and winemaker David Jeffery. When I decided to visit Napa and Sonoma, I reached out to a contact at Regal and asked which producers I should try to see. Calluna was one of them. In my research I discovered that Jeffrey would be pouring his wines at Vinoteca, a cooperative winemaking and tasting facility in Santa Rosa, on the Sunday I would be in the area. I then reached out to him. He really wanted me to come to the vineyards, but at that point my schedule only allowed for the Vinoteca tasting.
On Sunday, April 29, I arrived at Vinoteca and experienced one of the most enjoyable wine tastings I’ve had since I started serious wine tasting in 2008. Jeffrey took me on a tour of Vinoteca’s winemaking facility where he makes his wines, showed me photos, and shared his story with me. He was a 20-year wine collector and enthusiast who had a career in corporate finance when in 2001, he had to make a life-changing decision: get a “real job” or follow his passion for wine. He decided to follow his passion and founded Calluna Vineyards. He studied Enology at Fresno State and worked in Bordeaux to prepare himself for his new career. He acquired property in the Chalk Hill AVA in 2004 and planted his first grapes in early 2005. The first vintage was in 2007 and his wines have already enjoyed some critical success. His 2009 Calluna Vineyards Cuvée, a Bordeaux-style red blend, earned a score of 92 and a best buy in Wine and Spirits Magazine. His 2008 Calluna Estate, another Bordeaux-style red blend, received a recommendation and a score of 91 in Wine Spectator.
What made this experience so special was both witnessing the passion in his voice as well as tasting it in his wines. I tasted the aforementioned 2009 Cuvée, the 2009 Merlot “Aux Raynauds”, the 2008 Cabernet Sauvignon “The Colonel’s Vineyard” and the not-yet-released 2009 Calluna Estate, all stellar examples of Bordeaux-style wines. It’s a testament to his passion for wine and commitment to his craft that his wines are simply amazing in such a short time. My favorites were the two red blends. Since the 2009 Estate was not available, I purchased the 2009 Cuvée and plan to review it in a future post.
For more information about David Jeffrey and Calluna Vineyards, or to purchase the wines, the links and contact information are below. He has a guest house on the property, so maybe next time I’ll get to stay there and visit the vineyards!