[June 15, 2022 - Murphys, CA] This past year, The Calaveras Winegrape Alliance joined forces with the Calaveras County Fairgrounds to design and plant the first, "Steve Collum Demonstration Vineyard" in honor of our late Vineyard Manager who did so much for our wine region. We worked to make his dream a reality with the help of many. Laurie Giannini, CEO of the Calaveras Fairgrounds, spent several years with Steve as he would setup the Fair Wine Pavilion each May. Steve shared his vision for planting a Demonstration Vineyard to connect fair-goers with the unique varieties of wine grapes grown in the Sierra Foothills AVA. At the 2021 Sierra Foothills Wine Competition, Laurie shared, "Steve would put together the most amazing displays for the Wine Pavilion that would include snakes, owls, or other critters. Someday I hope we can build a demonstration vineyard as that was one of Steve's goals".
On May 18th, Steve's wife Cindy and son Garrett, joined members of the Calaveras wine industry and volunteers, for a dedication of the "Steve Collum Demonstration Vineyard", Many shared heartfelt stories of Steve during the vineyard planting day and dedication ceremony.
A big thanks goes out to those who provided donations for the demonstration vineyard signage. Those donors include the Kautz Family/Ironstone Vineyards, The Calaveras Visitors Bureau and George and Gay Callan/Chatom Vineyards. What a wonderful way to honor Steve's incredible legacy! All are invited to explore the initial eight grape varietals in a walk around tour of the demonstration vineyard that include some of Steve's favorites: Sangiovese, Tempranillo, Chenin Blanc, Zinfandel, Verdejo, Rousanne, Marsanne and the historic Mission Grape - one of the first recorded plantings in Calaveras County. The Steve Collum Demonstration Vineyard is located about a quarter mile to the right, past the main gate of the Calaveras County Fair. Look for the sign along the walking path that points right to an open meadow.
On June 2nd, the Calaveras Winegrape Alliance wrapped up an annual event also near and dear to Steve Collum, the "Calaveras Vineyard Tour". 50 invited guests got a rare look at a variety of Calaveras County’s vineyards, including some that are not open to the public. This year's tour focus was "Vineyard Management in Extreme Conditions". The vineyard tour was hosted by CWA's Education & Events Manager, Mark Silverstone. Invited speakers included Lynn Wunderlich, Farm Advisor with the UCCE, and Andrew Brown, USDA-NRCS Soil Scientist.
The tour started at Angel’s Loft Vineyards in Angels Camp, then moved to Dalton Ranch Vineyards in San Andreas, where a wine country lunch was served and concluded at Val du Vino Estate Winery in Murphys. The tour of three vineyards began at 9:00 and at 3:00, guests met at the Calaveras Winegrape Alliance Garden in Murphys. Soil Scientist, Andrew Brown, shared latest studies and answered questions about farming in extreme conditions. All enjoyed a wine reception and BBQ dinner following a full day of learning.
Calaveras County is home to family vineyards ranging in size from a few acres to eighty. There are now 600 acres of vineyards planted in Calaveras County with six estate vineyards. Family winemaking teams produce award-winning, handcrafted wines and offer unique tasting experiences at 35+ boutique tasting rooms and wineries. Nestled in a beautiful landscape, at the base of the Sierra Foothills and just 90 minutes from the San Francisco Bay Area and Sacramento regions, Calaveras Wine Country offers year-round natural beauty and recreation. Wines are made in small batches by family-run operations dedicated to sustainability and organic practices. Calaveras County is a perfect growing region for hearty Spanish and Italian varietals like Barbera, Tempranillo, Mourvedre, Nebbiolo, Grenache, Graciano, Toringa, Albarino, Marsanne, Verdelho, and Symphony as well as old vine Zinfandels, hearty and robust Cabernet and Petite Syrah. This historical wine country is welcoming and winery properties range from modern wine bars to large estates with vineyard views, to century-old buildings that house modern wine facilities.