Carving a new path is easy for Mike Officer, owner of Carlisle Winery & Vineyards. Mike started out in software industry in Southern California and migrated to Northern California still in the software development business. He started experimenting with producing wines that he enjoyed. His first vintage was 1998. Then this “hobby” (from the kitchen sink) became larger and in 2004 he left corporate America and pursued winemaking full time. In 2013, they purchased the property they are on today for today’s production and tomorrow’s growth.
Mike and his wife Kendall, have sought out to produce Zinfandels, but more awaited them. They went after the Rhone varietals, like Syrah, Grenache, Mourvedre and Petite Sirah. Mike was first to bring to Sonoma their first Grüner Veltliner, a unique white wine to the area. Today they are on their fourth vintage. Mike has a simple philosophy of “grow and source outstanding fruit…..and bottle outstanding, pleasurable wine at the fairest price possible”. It is a labor of love, not a ROI motivation, driving his making of wines. You can appreciate it once you taste and experience the winery.
One of the absolutely outstanding things Mike has done, is on their website, a “Drinkability Chart” for every wine produced since 1998 and when it was last updated. This provides a tremendous service for his clients. Every winery should take note!
Currently they source from their vineyard they own off property and have vineyards which they source from the following: Russian River Valley, Dry Creek Valley, Paso Robles, Bennett Valley, Mendocino Ridge, Santa Lucia Highlands, Napa Valley, Lodi and Sonoma Valley. While their total production is less than 10,000 cases in Santa Rosa, they make small lots with many grapes and vineyards. For example one of their Zin’s is 316 cases, Syrah 107 cases, Mourvedre 214 and Alicante Bouschet 100 cases. Each wine is handcrafted to Mike’s specifications.
I just want to mention one of my favorites during the visit. It was their 2014 Dry Creek Zinfandel, which scored a 90+ rating. It was comprised of 89% Zinfandel and 11% Petite Sirah and came in at 15.1% alcohol. It produced a white pepper in the palate and a strong, but not too powerful finish.
Sarah Weese, recently hired, was a perfect spokesperson for Carlisle and Mike. She already had a keen insight into the direction and nuances of their business. I kidded Sarah a bit as to her “speed presentation” but she was just rampant excitement about the winery wines!
There is a lot going on at Carlisle and should you have an opportunity to visit, please allow sufficient time and enjoy a unique tasting experience with some of the “less known varietals” which Mike has painstakingly produced on his new path.
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