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Calder Wine Company


Rory Calder Williams is the son of world famous (for his wine and his sense of humour!) John Williams, founder and winemaker of Frog's Leap Winery. Rory is a busy man! He splits his time between Frog's Leap where he is head vineyard manager, working at Tres Sabores for his mother and winemaking extraordinaire Julie Johnson and still finds time to produce his own wines under the label Calder Wine Co. During his time at college Rory made many trips to work harvests and visit wineries abroad including Argentina and Italy. Rory does not own his own winery or vineyards but instead has the luxury of building relationships with a handful of growers and purchasing premium quality grapes which he vinifies on 'rented' premises - of course he has the use of his parents' wineries too.

Rory is passionate about history and heritage. One of the vineyards he cares for and sources some of the grapes for his wines from, is now a part of the Frog's Leap Estate. This vineyard originally belonged to family friends the Rossis. Louise Rossi was the last of the family and sold the land to the Williams in 2004. Some of the vines on this plot are ancient and varieties planted include: Carbono, Riesling, Carignan, Mourvedre and a very small amount of Napa Gamay! These are varieties that were some of the first to gain popularity in the Napa Valley and Rory believes they should be celebrated as a solid contribution to the wines and terroir of this land. He works hard to preserve his heritage and although some vines have of course been replanted, careful pruning, organic and dry farming and traditional methods keep them thriving! Rory seeks out old vines, explaining that he values the complexity they offer. He buys grapes from the owners of the Evangelho vineyards in Contra Costa County, has links to two old vine sites of Carignan in Mendocino and the list goes on...

The first Calder Wine Co. wine was released in 2009. Rory is a vigneron who believes that great wine is made in the vineyard and so this is where he spends the majority of his time.

Rory produces on average 600 cases a year and here at OWC we carry the Mendocino Carignan. Here is a little paragraph from Rory about how he vinifies his wines: "I'm a big fan of minimal intervention and gentle extraction, especially with Carignane. There is a tendency in CA to want to push extraction to the max (the assumption being, more=better); I don't adhere to this notion, and often prefer wines that have been handled lightly. Upon arrival at the winery, I hand sort and destem the Carignane, but I don't crush the berries. I ferment in 3/4-ton (9 hL) bins, and manage the cap by punching down. If a wine gets hot I will do a pumpover to cool it--otherwise I stick to punchdowns. Unless the grapes have come in with rot or mold issues, I usually decline to add sulfur dioxide at crush. As far as yeast, my intention is to always let spontaneous fermentation occur--but I reserve the right to inoculate if the grapes have come in with issues, or if a must refuses to start and is at risk of developing other issues (which, left unanswered, would require more drastic intervention later on). I leave the must on the skins until the wine goes dry, or, if I feel that the tannins are increasing too quickly, I'll press off sweet and finish fermentation in stainless steel. After that it's all barrelled down and left for spontaneous ML. Once that's finished I do stabilize with sulfur for barrel ageing. I use about 9-12% new American oak in the Carignane. I've found that, in moderation, AO's sweet core plays well with Carignane's austere structure, helping to balance the wine and amplify the savory and floral elements of the grape. After that it's all bottled without filtration."