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edible Monterey Bay Summer 2015

Behind the bottle Mount Harlan Original Meet Josh Jensen, the Pinot pioneer who put Hollister on the world wine map By Deborah Luhrman Photography by Jim Wimberg “I never get tired of this view,” says Calera Wine’s Josh Jensen as we sit down at a picnic table in front of the winery to talk about his solitary life and his single-minded focus on crafting world-class Pinot Noir in a most unexpected place. Stretching out in front of us is an unblemished panorama of rolling hills as far as the eye can see. They are studded with oaks and chaparral in the parched Gavilan range along Cienega Road, about 10 miles south of Hollister and right on top of the San Andreas Fault. The view from Jensen’s office in the winery is just the same and so is the view from his home up the hill, where he lives with four working cats. “I talk to them, but they don’t talk back much. Maybe that’s why I like them,” he says, only half in jest. With your back to the winery, no evidence of human 44 edible monterey bay Summer 2015 “The county consisted of an 800-pound gorilla, which was Almaden, and two little ants,” he recalls. “From being one of those two little ants, now we’re considered the senior winery in the county.” Burgundy lover Josh Jensen grew up in the East Bay suburb of Orinda, but went to the East Coast for college and then on to Oxford for grad school. After living in England he bummed around Europe, fortuitously scoring a job picking grapes at the most famous winery in Burgundy, Domaine de la Romanée-Conti, and the following fall at another Burgundy estate. Already in love with Pinot Noir and white Burgundies, Jensen became convinced that the unique limestone ridges of the Côte d’Or were what made the French wines so great. On represence is visible, save for some high-tension power lines in the far distance. “I love the sounds at night of the coyotes or the cattle on the ranch across the hill from us. I love the birds chirping, and I have a wild beehive right outside my kitchen window,” he adds. The view hasn’t changed at all since Jensen founded Calera in 1975 after scouring California for limestone soils similar to the ones that produce the great Burgundy wines of France. But the wine landscape is decidedly different. At that time, Almaden—one of the biggest winemakers in America—had two behemoth wineries in San Benito County. A small startup winery called Enz was at the end of Cienega Road, and Calera came along two years later.


edible Monterey Bay Summer 2015
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