Josh Jensen, California Pinot Noir Pioneer, Is Dead at 78

Soon enough, in the mid-1980s, the Calera pinot noirs began to receive notice. They were classically styled in the Burgundy tradition, not easy to enjoy young yet structured to age well, with the intense fruit flavors that come from California sunshine. Each of the vineyards seemed to offer its own singular expression. Most important, the Calera pinot noirs were consistently good year after year, unlike the one-off pinot noir triumphs that had occasionally tantalized other producers but that they were unable to reproduce. Over time, Mr. Jensen added three more vineyards, Mills, Ryan and de Villiers, to the original 24 acres, planted with pinot noir, chardonnay, aligoté and viognier. The Calera vineyards eventually totaled 85 acres. “It is easy to forget how few prominent pinot noir producers there were in California in the 1980s and how few were able to maintain and improve quality over the decades that followed,” Mr. In that alone, Josh accomplished an extraordinary feat.”Mr. Jensen did not just make exceptional wines. His success inspired others to try their hand with pinot noir. Yet nobody else ventured out to Mount Harlan, which the federal government approved as an American Viticultural Area in 1990. “Josh’s complete commitment and passion to take anything to the limit to achieve quality became an inspiration for many who followed,” Mr. “Few had the courage to strike out into such an intimidating, remote location, but many were inspired by his work.”