Carlisle Winery is owned by Mike Officer, a former software developer and home winemaker, and his wife Kendall. Based on their success making up to 300 cases of mostly Zinfandels at home, they launched a commercial winery in 1998 in Sonoma County. Jay Maddox, an old friend of the Officers and graduate of the U.C. Davis winemaking program, was brought on as the winemaker. Today the winery is known for its limited production Zinfandels, Syrahs and Petite Sirahs. Grapes are sourced from vineyards in Sonoma County, and more recently, Paso Robles on the Central Coast of California. About 5,000 cases are produced annually. Robert M. Parker Jr. calls Carlisle’s wines “stunningly rich, opulent, intensely flavorful. Loaded with soul and personality…”
Santa Lucia Highlands AVA is a 12-mile long, narrow strip of an appellation wedged along the eastern hillsides of the Santa Lucia mountain range. Given its proximity to Big Sur and the Gabilan Mountain Range to the northeast, Santa Lucia a cool-climate wine growing district. Morning sun is often followed by maritime winds and fog in the afternoon, a weather pattern that prolongs the growing season and means long, gentle ripening of the grapes. Spanish missionaries planted vineyards in the district in the 18th century, but it wasn’t until the 1970s that modern winemakers planted vineyards and began making high quality wine. The district received AVA status in 1991 and today there are 6,000 vineyard acres in the Santa Lucia Highlands. Pinot Noir is the dominant grape planted, followed by Chardonnay and Riesling.
This grape is grown in milder climates and produces a medium-to full-bodied wine. It is also known as Shiraz, but should not be confused with Petit Sirah, which was developed by crossing Syrah with Peloursin.