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…”
Mendocino AVA was established in 1984 and amended in 1989. It includes numerous sub-appellations. Mendocino AVA is entirely within Mendocino County, and the AVA is known for its Mediterranean climate. Vintners successfully grow Carignan, Charbono, Grenache, Zinfandel, Petit Sirah and Syrah. In cooler parts of the region Pinot Noir and Chardonnay are also grown. Mendocino County is home to nearly 600 vineyards, and many have been certified organic for decades, thanks to the region’s famous “green and sustainable” approach to agriculture and nearly everything else. Mendocino was named for 16th century explorers, a pair of brothers whose last name was Mendoza. Winemaking, however, didn’t start until the 19th century when some would-be gold miners decided it was more profitable to make wine than to pan for gold. Italian immigrants in the late 19th century continued to establish winemaking ventures.
Zinfandel is a black-skinned grape, but 85% of the wine produced is made into a rosy “White Zinfandel.” Red Zin is far more complex and bold, while still being light-bodied. It grows in popularity as winemakers continue to experiment with new styles and blends.