Sustainable winemaking in the heart of Gold Country

Sustainable winemaking in the heart of Gold Country

Best local wine club

There’s a lot to be said for nature.

When you’ve got a winery that intends to be as close to its natural source as possible, it makes sense to find it buried amongst the roaring rapids between the Bear and Yuba Rivers in the Sierra Foothills.  These rivers offer something else other than a fun play date for the weekend. They are the life source that enables Clavey winery to grow their grapes in a sustainable way that harmonizes with Mother Nature.

Clavey Vineyards’ wines are beloved at Vinely – and for a good reason, too.  The Clavey family believes that nature is their playground. The Clavey family has found somewhat of a wine mecca at in the Sierra Foothills, which makes it easy for them not to stray too far from their ethos.

So, what’s so special about this particular location, then?

The high elevation provides extra richness for the grapes. The result is an extensive range of sustainable and biodynamic wine that honors the timeless flavors found in nature.  This also means that they’re confident they can get everything they need from it to make their outstanding wines. None of the processes is artificial, which is hard to come by these days.

Beyond a heavy emphasis on sustainability, there’s something else special about Clavey. All their wines are vegan! Now, if you know anything about the winemaking process, you’ll understand that this is no easy feat. They have deliberately chosen not to introduce any animal by-products to their wines or vines.

They also don’t test their products on animals and leave their wines unfiltered. This means that they skip a step in the winemaking process, which makes the way they do things as about as Old World as you can get.

Clavey considers their winemaking process to be as natural as possible. As well as growing their grapes sustainably, they make a point of hand-picking every grape, as well as processing the grapes and bottling the wine by hand as well. The result is an incredibly intimate process that reflects the passion felt by the Clavey family.

So, what makes Clavey vineyards Clavey, then? Actually, this winery was named after Clavey Falls, which is a V rapid found on the Tuolumne River in Yosemite.

Marc and Roger Orman, two brothers and both keen outdoorsmen, found themselves in a bit of trouble when they went white water rafting on this river. They have named their winery Clavey to remind them of the immense respect they still hold for the beauty, and sometimes strength, of nature.

Today, Marc’s son Josh runs Clavey, along with his wife, Summer. Josh has been passionate about making wine ever since he was fifteen, which drove him to graduate from Cal Poly San Luis Obispo with a degree in Enology and Viticulture.

When Josh was in college, he spent a bit of time in Tuscany, under the watchful eye of master winemaker, Duccio Meazzini. It was here in Italy that Josh learned to refine his techniques and methods exclusively through using Old World practices and traditions. This helped him connect back to his Italian roots.

The Clavey tasting room is located in the historic district of the beautiful Gold Rush town of Nevada City, CA. It is here that Clavey pours all the currently available wines, as well as using it as a springboard to launch all of their new releases.

Between the Yuba River and downtown Nevada City, there’s no end to must-see sights and activities to occupy your time over the course of a weekend.  In addition to hiking in nature or exploring the old mining facilities, you can enjoy independent music venues, craft alcohol and beer, and a world-class culinary scene.

Clavey Wines

2012 Sangiovese: This Clavey varietal won a bronze medal at the California State Fair. If you’re someone who likes finding beautifully traditional table wines, then you’ll love this particular vintage. With lively cherry notes, you’ll experience a vigorous finish to complement the acidity. The 2012 Sangiovese is best paired with mild local goat cheese or Cowgirl Creamery Wagon Wheel.

2016 Rose Sangiovese: Clavey’s 2016 Rose Sangiovese is best served chilled at 50 degrees. As aromatic as it is bold, this Rose will stand out with its elegant shade of garnet. With hints of strawberry and pineberry, this varietal pairs equally well with grilled vegetables or a buttery pasta sauce.

2015 Class III (new release): This nontraditional blend of 34% Sangiovese, 33% Syrah and 33% Cabernet Sauvignon has evolved into a delicious treat for the nonchalant risk taker. Aged in neutral French oak, you can enjoy the fruit forward characteristics of plum and cherry, which transition into a bright, pleasant finish. Enjoy this wine with seasoned grilled shrimp, salmon, or a hearty vegetarian dish.

If you’ve already connected to Clavey through Vinely and tasted their excellent wines, you may want to venture out in the new year to taste what else their inviting tasting room has to offer.  And, remember, tasting for Vinely members are always complimentary!

Rachel Sikkema

Rachel Sikkema is Vinely’s storyteller. She loves writing about all things wine and telling the story of local wineries and winemakers. When she's not testing out exciting new labels to write about, she's busy running around after her two young daughters.


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