“Once upon a time I was a novelist,” Californian winemaker Caleb Leisure tells us, “I still write and I’m always at work on something.” Caleb was attracted to the blending of ephemeral and tractile found in wine. “I never had big plans,” Caleb says, “just kept following an interest and this is where it got me.” His meandering path brought him into Tony Coturri’s employ. When Caleb arrived, Tony hadn’t made much wine in several years: “It was like a place trapped in time” there were 5-7 years old that had just been sitting in barrel.” After a few, dense years he was ready to move on and founded his eponymous company producing 15,000 cases of zero additive wines a year.
“Making wine in california can be such a schizophrenic experience,” Caleb says, remarking on the range of available terroirs, varieties and vineyards in his home state. Though part of him longs for the structure of an AOC to narrow the choices, Caleb has found his stylistic anchor in his work with Georgian qvevri. “The qvevri have functioned as the through line and the binding agent of what my project is about,” Caleb tells us. Although their are other American producers working with modern amphorae, Caleb is America’s first winemaker so wholly dedicated to the more rustic, porous and care intensive qvevri.
A pseudo field blend of whole cluster Syrah cofermented with directly pressed Mourvedre juice and later blended with Viognier. Aged in a 50/50 mix of steel and Georgian Qvevri and bottled without fining filtration or added sulfite.
Coming from a mostly untented, unsprayed vineyard, the cepage is a reflection of what fruit could be salvaged. Grenache, Cinsault and Mourvedre fermented with 60% whole clusters, aged through the spring in oak and Qvevri.