Vol. 3

We will soon be emerging from winter even though it does not yet look like Spring and more rain is in the forecast. It was an extraordinary winter with seemingly non-stop rain giving us over 45” so far for the rain season, which began October 1, vs an average of about 27” and certainly much more than the last droughty years. But in many respects it was a typical winter season for me – I like the winter because the needs of the vineyard are so much less – the vineyard is quiet in dormancy and the rains essentially remove the risk of wildfire. So it is a time of relative calm – but not really relaxation, as there are other tasks to be done.


The biggest job in the vineyards during the winter is pruning. Each winter, we undertake the enormous job of pruning 35,000 vines – all by hand. During the process, each vine needs some thought as to how to make the proper cuts which will impact its form for the coming year and beyond. In the early days, I used to be out there with the team myself. These days, I get them going and then tend to the other tasks.

Here are before and after shots of the pruning of the Colonel’s Vineyard Cabernet:

The Colonel’s Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon: Before Pruning March 2023
The Colonel’s Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon: After Pruning March 2023

Bottling of the 2022 Calluna Estate Blanc, Release of the 2021

I was excited to get this wine in bottle as it is a very good vintage for us –- the really stressful heat of 2022 came after we picked the Sauvignon Blanc and Semillon. For the first time, I chose not to use all the Semillon in this blend. The Sauvignon is ripe and expressive, but the Semillon was a bit on the lean side – I picked it earlier than I really should have because I was worried the Sauvignon was going to be too ripe, so I wanted a leaner Semillon as a counterpoint. With Semillon at only 15% of the blend, the wine works beautifully (usually we have closer to 25%+ Semillon).  This wine will be released in about a year.

However, we have just recently released the 2021 Estate Blanc to our Wine Club. For the last few months, I have been presenting it with our distributors to restaurants and retailers as well as to visitors who visit me here at Calluna.  It is another good vintage for this wine and showing well after some bottle age.  And it has been well received in the market as it stands out from most other California wines due to its citric-honey tones, crisp acidity and moderate alcohol – a really good wine to go with food.  Please let me know how you like this wine once you get a chance to taste it.

Blending of the 2022 Red Wines

In my last journal, I talked a bit about “blending trials” where we pull samples and work through building/selecting the blends for each wine. Once we accomplish that and are happy with the result, it is time to go to the winery, pull out all the barrels, and then pump each selected barrel to its destination tank (i.e, the Calluna Estate Cabernet blend selections will be pumped together into the dedicated Calluna Estate Cabernet tank).  After blending to the tank, all the wine is then pumped back to barrels for the rest of its aging process, which totals about 2 years.

Here is a picture of the racking and blending of the 2022 reds. Don’t worry about all that wine on the floor.  These are lees, or sediments, which settle to the bottom of the barrel during aging – this is part of the clarification process.   We will collect most of the lees and resettle them so we recapture wine.  But the very last of the lees will hit the floor when we wash the barrels prior to refilling them. These 2022 reds will be bottled in June of next year, 2024.

Barrel work in the cellar. Blending the 2022 vintage wines. March 2023

Winemaker Dinners / Working with Distributors

Because the vineyard needs are much less at this time of the year and the winemaking tasks are limited to a few big operations, I have much more time in the winter to get out on the road and help sell our wine. Most of this work is done with our “distributors,” the wholesalers who sell our wine to retailers and restaurants. We sell a lot of wine to our wine club members and other direct individual customers. However, if we want to be in a restaurant or wine shop in states other than California, we must go through a distributor in those states. Currently, we have distribution in about 10 states and are working on improving that side of the market after Covid knocked that portion of the business hard.

Lots of work with distributors entails riding around with their field reps and presenting the wine to the restaurants and wine store buyers. That can be fun but my favorite work is when we get winemaker dinners where we work with a restaurant or club to pair our wines with a multi course meal. I present the wines as we go, often with the chef who describes the dishes. These events almost always showcase our wines beautifully. I had winemaker dinners at the Penn Club in NYC, a couple in Nebraska with our new distributor there, and one in Denver at the private home of one of our great customers who invited 25 of their wine friends to learn about Calluna. These events are often great for Calluna to add new customers and wine club members. If any readers have favorite restaurants or clubs interested in hosting in cities where we have distributors, I’d certainly love to entertain the possibility.

Often a family member or two accompanies me on a given event, and we also get some time to explore new cities or some new things in familiar cities. In NYC, we had a family visit to the Museum of Modern Art – my first ever visit to MOMA. There is a lot of diverse art there, not all of which I am able to appreciate, but I did find one that I really liked:

David Jeffrey and The Starry Night by Vincent van Gogh

Feedback on our 2015 Calluna Estate

You may recall in my last journal I also wrote how I gave a bottle of our 2015 Calluna Estate to Matthieu Bordes, the wine director of Chateau Lagrange in Bordeaux. I wondered if I might ever get any feedback, so it was wonderful to see this post on Instagram with a beautiful picture of our wine next to his 2015.

If you’re also on Instagram, go ahead and give us a follow @CallunaVineyards

Until next time!

David Jeffrey
Founder & Winemaker