From calcareous earth come Calcareous wines
Calcareous Vineyards, on the west side of Paso Robles, is the realization of a vision of the winery’s founders, Lloyd Messer and Dana Brown. Winemaker Jason Joyce relates their discovery of the Paso Robles wine region thus: “Calcareous vineyards was started by Lloyd Messer and his daughter Dana Brown. Together they operated a beer and wine distributor based in Iowa. They discovered the wines of Paso Robles in the early 90’s and were early supporters of the region. They made frequent trips to the area to discover new wineries to distribute. During these visits they fell in love with the idea of creating their own wines and in 1998 sold their business and bought property on the westside of Paso Robles to pursue their new dream.”
Jason continues, relating the next part of the Calcareous story, “Lloyd passed away in 2007, the same year the winery building was finished. Dana, with the help of her sister Erica, was determined to fulfill their family’s dream and carried on the production of Calcareous wines.” Winemaker Jason Joyce says that he has been with Calcareous since 2007, joining as assistant winemaker and becoming head winemaker in 2010.
It was the land of Calcareous Vineyards that first inspired Lloyd and Dana, and it is the land that continues to inspire the winemaking there now. Jason says, “The overriding philosophy behind the production of Calcareous wines is to stay true to the land. The exact location of the vineyards, with their unique combination of soil and climate, is what makes for the possibility of producing a unique wine. The limestone rich soils produce small yields that in turn creates intense fruit with concentrated flavors, tannins and acid.” The winery’s name, Calcareous, refers to a type of limestone soil.
Jason gives credit to the land of Calcareous for determining much of what defines Calcareous wines. He says, “This land gives us the ability to produce muscular wines, and we don’t want to shy away from that. There are risks involved in pushing the envelope to achieve proper vine stress, ripeness, extraction, and concentration in the wine. But our philosophy is to embrace that risk and produce the best possible wine we can each time we get the chance.”
According to Jason, Calcareous has “established a reputation” for their Rhone blends, both red and white, their Cabernet Sauvignon and Bordeaux blend as well as their Zinfandel.” They grow Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, Merlot, Malbec, Syrah, Grenache, Mourvedre, Zinfandel, Pinot Noir and Chardonnay on their estate vineyards. They also produce Petit Verdot, Marsanne, Viognier, Grenache Blanc from grapes purchased from the area. Calcareous currently produces 12,000 annually: 5,000 cases of Calcareous Estate wines and 7,000 of their second label, Twisted Sisters wines.
Jason describes the experience that a visitor can expect from a visit to Calcareous: “Our mountain top tasting room in open everyday from 11 to 5, usually tasting 5-6 wines. We have a beautiful grounds with panoramic views of the Salinas Valley. Tasters are expected to come and take their time once they have arrived.” Jason suggests that people, “Enjoy the wine, the atmosphere, the company and feel for yourself the land that produces the wine.”
Visit Calcareous Vineyards at 3430 Peachy Canyon Road in Paso Robles, CA. The tasting room is open daily from 11am to 5pm. Call (805) 239-0289 or visit calcareous.com for more information.
— Kate Joyce