SFChron: Bonne on Livermore/Kalin

Some interesting articles by JohnBonne in the SFChron on:
LivermoreWhites: SFChron:LivermoreWhites
and TerryLeighton/Kalin:

Terry & his wife have made a Semillon for yrs that ranks right up there with the greats…from the HunterVlly and ClareVlly.

Talking about the RubyHill property, Terry’s first Semillon source, he refers to Harry&Len Rosignana, the two brothers who leased it from SouthernPacific. I amazed that Jon had the sense of history that Len went on to become a pioneer in the NewMexico wine industry. His first winemaker at RubyHill was LannyReplogle, now of Fenestra. His 2’nd winemaker was ??, who went on to become a wine consultant and started a mead operation. The old RubyHill/StonyRidge was a very old bldg and a dump. It eventually burned to the ground. The vines were ripped. The RubyHill wnry was “rebuilt” and now used primarily for weddings.


Great article and Terry makes a great Semillon. The age of those Wente vines is somewhat in question.

Nice article and fair to the Livermore Valley wine scene.

Interesting story that the 100+ year-old, head-trained Semillon was being dismissed as a blending grape for jug wine. I’ve heard a similar tale about the old Semillon block at Monte Rosso, until J. got up there and made sure the grapes were going to people who understood their potential and knew what to do with them.

BruceRector was then guy I was trying to recall:


And J. would be who??? The name’s not ringing a bell, Larry.

Actually, back in the old days (by crackey), the Semillon that MikeMartini & his Dad (Louis P.) made from those grapes
was pretty good…a wine I thought never got the recognition it deserved.

Thanks for sharing Tom. I’ve never had a Kalin Semillon but do have an 83 in the cellar. I’ve been enticed by Kalin’s operation, but unfortunately, haven’t had the opportunity to taste their wines other than a recently released 1995 Chard that fell a little flat for me. But I’ve heard of some great aged wines being released by them and they have been recommended to me numerous times. Maybe the Semillon will get me to dig a little harder…

Not sure if it was him or Morgan who told me that the grapes at one time were going into Gallo jug wine. Now the grapes find their way into blends with Bedrock Cuvee Karatas and Carlisle “The Deriviatve” as well as Bedrock Lachryma Montis when enough botrytis is present.

Back in the mid-seventies while I was in college, I used to buy Wente Johannisberg Riesling.

I wonder why he doesn’t mention Kalin Sauvignon Blanc. I recently had a bottle of 1997 Potter Valley Reserve that had - improbably - aged very nicely.

Thanks, Larry. Of course I’ve heard of that Jake…just couldn’t come up w/ that last name.
I had JakeBilbro stuck in my mind.

Yup…I was never impressed by the regular Wente JR’s. But in '72 they made a Spatlese and than an Auslese in '73.
Those wines went out some 20 yrs. From ArroyoSecco grapes.

Yup…I was never impressed by the regular Wente JR’s. But in '72 they made a Spatlese and than an Auslese in '73.
Those wines went out some 20 yrs. From ArroyoSecco grapes.

Interestingly, Fenestra makes an Arroyo Seco Riesling that’s quite good.

Larry/Tom - do you know what parts of town have those deep gravelly soils?

Making some livermore wine this year and trying to figure out if I am sourcing from the right places

Two things about Kalin.

I have a bottle of the 1998 Semillion in PC which I bought last year from the Utah State Store. There was a note next to it that returns would not be allowed on this wine.

Kalin was the wine that started us on the wine road. Recommended by the founder of Wine Watch in FLL it was a Cuvee LD and it took us to new heights. Ultimately we bought 5 or 6 cases and friends who tried it bought another 8 or so. Terry asked what was going on in FLL

Totally clueless. I’ve never walked a single Livermore vnyd. But just from driving around, I suspect the soils
are pretty uniform down on the flats to the South of the Interstate and to the East of town. When you get to the
West of town and towards Pleasanton, they might be a bit different. And up into the hills to the South of Livermore.

I recall having dinner with Terry Leighton in Berkeley one evening some years back, and he brought along a bottle of the Semillion. Can’t recall the vintage. It performed admirably with the meal, and Terry commented that this is a versatile wine " rising to whatever the occasion in partnering a variety of dishes ".

My all time favorite wine from Kalin is the 1991 LD Chardonnay, which at 15 years of age was remarkably fresh at last tasting.

Hank [cheers.gif]

One more thing about Kalin that deserves mention: most awesomely anachronistic web site ever.

Same with me, no idea, although the article implied that Ruby Hill included those deep gravels, and that’s far south-west in the valley. My guess is that the area along the southern hills would be it, which probably includes the canyon where Wente is, or the other with Murrietta’s Well, also the area with Thomas Coyne & Fenestra. Generally the hills that don’t support trees are heavy in sand, and the ones that do include some more firm soil i.e. gravel or clay.

Honestly (sadly) it would be pretty rare to hear a winery around here talk about soil. They seem more focused on growing the grapes they want, then manipulating in the winery to get the wine they want. There’s too little respect for the terroir, which is why that’s such a nebulous concept with regard to the region.

BTW Tim my neighbor has a small vineyard (we’re on the flat part of the valley) and sadly her husband who tended it and made the wine, died of cancer a couple years ago. For a while the vineyard was tended by one of the local wineries and in exchange she gave them the grapes for free. This year it never was pruned. I haven’t talked to her about it, but I guess they decided it wasn’t worth the trouble. I imagine she’d give away the grapes if you wanted to pick them, but it’s going to take a little TLC to get the vineyard back in shape with this year’s neglect. I’ve been thinking about talking to her about it to see what’s happening with it.

Larry& Tom, thanks for your thoughts. I was actually thinking the opposite in terms of where those soils may be.

Larry - I would REALLY be interested in helping you with that restoration project. I know less about viticulture than the little I have learned about enology at UC Davis and the four vintages of garage wine. That said, it would be a wonderful opportunity to tend a vineyard and make wine from it. I have all of the essentials in the garage, stainless steel tanks, bladder press, crusher/destemmer, etc.