Who Are They?
+Caleb Leisure Wines is a small, one-person, natural wine project in Sonoma County, CA. Caleb was raised in the East Bay, studied English at UC Berkeley and was working on his Masters of Fine Arts in fiction at NYU when he stumbled upon the natural wine scene in New York.
He soon moved back to California and landed an apprenticeship at Coturri Winery. After a trip to the country of Georgia in 2016 where he spent a life-changing few days tasting wine out of qvevri for the first time, his passion for wine really took off. That year, he was given space at Coturri to start his very own project. And before the 2017 vintage, Caleb imported and buried 10 Georgian qvevri in the earthen cellar at the winery.
+The remarkable range of available terroirs, grape varieties, and vineyards in California has him sometimes longing for the structure of an AOC to narrow the choices but he’s been able to find his own style here guided by ancient Georgian traditions.
+He farms much of the fruit that he uses himself while making sure all sources adhere to organic and biodynamic principles with no additions or subtractions in the winemaking process.
Why Do We Love Them?
+While there are other American producers working with modern Amphorae and concrete eggs, Caleb is the only California winemaker using authentic Georgian qvevri in their process and doesn’t own a single oak barrel. He’s embracing the most primitive ways of doing things, understanding that it’s worked for 8,000 years, taking chances at every turn.
+There aren’t any Georgian grapes planted in CA yet but Caleb hopes to change that and is now tending to his own small vineyard in Calaveras County. He’s currently working with classic CA grapes like Merlot, Syrah, and Pinot Noir in Sonoma, but these wines end up being edgy and raw and far from what you think of when you picture wines from this region. They’re resoundingly clean, natural wines, with crazy labels designed by his mom, Joy Broom, but they’re not overly funky or at all flawed, they’re just refreshingly different. Throw all of your preconceptions of Pinot Noir out the window for the one we just got in and the skin-contact Pinot Gris is fun and pretty with some grit. These will go fast!