‘Let the soil speak,’ says winemaker Jason Joyce
Calcareous Vineyards, on the west side of Paso Robles, is the realization of a vision of the winery’s father and daughter founders, Lloyd Messer and Dana Brown. Winemaker Jason Joyce, in telling the story of the family’s discovery of the Paso Robles wine region, said “Calcareous Vineyards was started by Lloyd Messer and his daughter Dana Brown. Together they operated a beer and wine distributorship based in Iowa. They discovered the wines of Paso Robles in the early 90s 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 west side 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 was determined to fulfill their family 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 create intense fruit with concentrated flavors, tannins and acid.” The winery’s name, Calcareous, refers to a type of limestone soil. Their motto for the wines is, “Let the soil speak.”
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, Mourvèdre, Zinfandel, Pinot Noir and Chardonnay on their estate vineyards. Over the years of producing wine, Calcareous has received many 90+ ratings. The most recent accomplishment was receiving 16th place on Wine Spectator’s Top 100 Wines of 2021 with their 2018 Devil’s Canyon Syrah which scored 94 points. Calcareous currently produces 12,000 cases annually.
Their mountain top tasting room is open daily from 10:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m., with reservations available from 10:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. During your visit to Calcareous Vineyard, you can enjoy the beautiful panoramic views of the Salinas Valley along with a flight of wine paired with lunch from the full menu. The menu offers small bites to satiate your craving or a full lunch that is both delicious and filling. “Enjoy the wine, the atmosphere, the company and feel for yourself the land that produces the wine,” invites Jason.
Visit Calcareous Vineyards at 3430 Peachy Canyon Road in Paso Robles.. The tasting room is open daily from 10 a.m. to 5p.m. Call (805) 239-0289 or visit calcareous.com for reservations.
– By Leslee Falkenberge