Carlisle Winery & Vineyards is the realization of a dream for long time home winemakers Mike and Kendall Officer. After a decade of producing award-winning wines at home for family and friends, they crushed their first "commercial" grapes in 1998. Focusing on Zinfandel and Rhone-based varieties, their goal is simple but ambitious: to produce small lots of world-class wines from some of California's most exceptional vineyards. Although the winemaker’s bag of tricks has grown considerably over recent years, these tools and techniques can only take a wine so far. For a wine to be exceptional, it must be intrinsic to the grapes. Given this simple fact, Carlisle strives to work with only the best vineyards, vineyards that consistently produce grapes of quality and distinction, vintage after vintage. For their numerous Zinfandels, Mourvèdres, and a couple of their whites, they source fruit from some of the finest old-vine Sonoma Country vineyards, planted between 1888 and 1954. For other varieties – Syrah, Petite Sirah, Grenache, and Grüner Veltliner – they work diligently with small family growers who share Carlisle's passion for great wine. Although some of these vineyards are quite young, the care and attention they receive ensures exceptional, distinctive fruit with each vintage. With some luck and a lot of determination, Mike and Kendall purchased one of Russian River Valley's benchmark old-vine Zinfandel vineyards. Planted in 1927 by Italian immigrant Alcide Pelletti (with some occasional direction from his father-in-law Giuseppi Frati), they began producing wine from that site in 2001. Additionally, they have secured a nearby two-acre, predominantly Mourvèdre vineyard planted in 1910, and several other old-vines Zin vineyards, which they meticulously farm themselves. Through hard work in the vineyard and winery, Carlisle believes you can have it all, the best of both worlds. Their approach to winemaking is simple, yet difficult. They prefer to intervene in nature’s process as little as possible and rely on, mostly, uninoculated fermentations minimal use of new oak. They rarely fine or filter. However, they are not dogmatic and will intervene if they feel it results in a higher quality wine while still remaining true to the vintage and the vineyard.
At a Glance
- A self taught home winemaker, Mike Officer and his wife Kendall started Carlisle in 1998
- Mike made his mark producing Zinfandel and Syrah from old vine vineyards from some of the best locations in Sonoma County – Dry Creek, Russian River and Alexander Valley
- The flagship of the Carlisle portfolio is the Carlisle Vineyard that was the original Pelletti Ranch planted in the 1920’s
- Like many of the vineyards Mike sources fruit from, the Carlisle Vineyard is dominated by Zinfandel as as well several mixed balcks (Mourvedre, Petite Sirah, Alicante Bousche, Carignan, etc..) along with several white varietals
- The wines of Carlisle are distinctive for their sense of place and layers of fruit with balancing acidity