Carlisle Winery and Vineyards, Sonoma County

by Stevie on December 14, 2011

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It seems quite appropriate to be writing about Carlisle the day after an eight-hour Twilight marathon with my BFF, Jasmine. We met at a local movie theatre to see Breaking Dawn Part 1 (for her, the second time; for me, the fourth) then walked to my place where we happily sat through Twilight, New Moon and Eclipse on DVD. I served some wine and between flicks made penne in vodka sauce and roasted cauliflower. What a great time!

welcome to Carlisle Winery and Vineyards

welcome to Carlisle Winery and Vineyards

Of course, not everyone is as Twilight-obsessed as I am, so if you don’t get the Carlisle reference, let me fill you in: that’s the name of Edward Cullen’s adoptive vampire father in the Twilight series. (And if you’re über-obsessed like I, then perhaps you’re already familiar with Bella Winery in Dry Creek Valley, Twilight Cellars in Paso Robles and I’ve recently learned that there’s a Jasper Hill winery somewhere in Australia. Wouldn’t it be super-fun to have a Twilight themed wine tasting party where all the labels come from names of characters in the series?)

Of course, the winery, Carlisle, has nothing whatsoever to do with the series on vampires, werewolves and the teen girl that loves them. The web site says that the name comes from owner/winemaker, Mike Officer’s wife’s name, Kendall Carlisle. Nevertheless, excellent choice!

Carlisle is popular. This is one of those small-ish production boutique wineries with a long waiting list. I think that I signed up a couple of years ago and would periodically get these charming e-mails thanking me so much for waiting on the list, but that I’d have to please continue to wait. Very frustrating, and no, I don’t like it. But then a miracle, I was contacted a couple months back and asked to buy some of the wine. If I did, then my name was to be moved from the wait list to the active list. Yippie!!!

So of course I bought the wine ASAP.

I think that these stainless steel vats are really awesome

I think that these stainless steel vats are really awesome

the barrel racks are like abstract art

the barrel racks are like abstract art

Carlisle produces zinfandels and Rhône style wines: syrah, Grenache, mourvèdre, and petite sirah. It sounds like they pretty much sell out to the list members, though I’ve seen bottles in shops occasionally. I often hear high praise for Carlisle wines in the pages of Wine Spectator and this year, maybe it was the edition on zinfandels, one of their bottles was on the cover.

After I ordered some wine, I received another charming note that invited us to visit the winery for their pick-up weekend. I love those, so immediately agreed. Looking back on it now, I had this complicated fantasy about what the Carlisle facility might be like: sort of a combination Williams Selyem meets the smooth modernism of the Cullens’ home as depicted in the movies. Well, it wasn’t quite like that. If anything, you might characterize the place as the opposite. This was coolly industrial and functional, though not without charm. The Copain Custom Crush facility is the same as where Eric Kent wines are made. Small world.

Hegui wasn’t thirsty the day of our visit, so I tasted alone. We couldn’t help but notice that many of the other clients visiting seemed to know one-another. It was quite intimate really. A catering company served slices of gourmet pizza as we wandered around a bit and I sampled.

admiring the intimate setting and company at Carlisle

admiring the intimate setting and company at Carlisle

2002 Dry Creek Zinfandel: A black purple color with a mossy nose, it was full bodied and smooth, sort of like a good cabernet, with rich fruit and depth that still retained some pepper at the end. I liked it a lot.

2009 Russian River Valley Zinfandel: The gentleman pouring the wine said it was from the “home ranch” though I didn’t think to ask what he meant. A ruby red with lots of red fruit and pepper on the long finish it had a wonderful texture. This seemed fresher than the 2002.

2010 Sonoma Valley Bedrock Vineyard Zinfandel from barrel: I really enjoyed tasting this and the next barrel samples, in part because they were both delicious, but also because they were presented in Erlenmeyer flasks. The science-geek in me was tickled.

A ruby red with a faint nose that led to lots of fruit and pepper throughout, this had supple tannins and seems somewhat fizzy.

2010 Russian River Valley Paba’s Block Syrah from barrel: Looking at my sloppy handwriting now, I feel sure that I’ve mis-spelled the name of this excellent syrah. If you know the correct one, please contact me!

A ruby purple color, I detected lots of eucalyptus on the nose that led to red fruit, licorice with a long finish. I wrote “very exciting” in my notes.

Carlisle is amazing. Look for it, or better yet, get on the list.

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{ 6 comments… read them below or add one }

Krista December 15, 2011 at 6:20 pm

You are hilarious! I never knew you were a Twilight fan. :-) I think a Twilight themed wine party is a fantastic idea. :-)
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Devaki @ weavethousandflavors December 18, 2011 at 1:55 pm

Oh yes please – I’m a TWILIGHT fan! Any chance we’ll be in the same city for part two? Fingers crossed (and toes too! :)

You guys are just amazing with your vineyard posts – you are turning this into an art form :)

Darling GREG – Thank you for this most uplifting and heart felt post. This is a surefire cure to the grinchiness that seems to have taken over our existence.

Love & hugs and all things sugar, spice & nice (Okay so the grammar sucks but who cares, eh?)

chow!Devaki @ weavethousandflavors
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Devaki @ weavethousandflavors December 18, 2011 at 1:58 pm

OKEY – DOKEY -Very wierd! I published my comment and it pasted an email I just sent a friend – Bummer!! Thank God it didn’t have profanity…lol..

So PLEASE discard the last comment and here I go again :)

Oh yes please!!! I’m a TWILIGHT fan! Any chance we’ll be in the same city for part two? Fingers crossed (and toes too!)

You guys are just amazing with your vineyard posts – you are turning this into an art form.

chow! Devaki @ weavethousandflavors
Devaki @ weavethousandflavors recently posted..Splendid in a Hurry : Tuscan Mussel & Clam SoupMy Profile

Magic of Spice December 19, 2011 at 11:36 am

A Twilight wine tour…I’m in :) I am not much for Zinfandel usually but this Dry Creek Zinfandel has piqued from your description…sounds like my kind of wine :)
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Israel Thurmond February 21, 2012 at 11:30 pm

Great blog.Really thank you! Fantastic.

Anonymous February 9, 2013 at 5:56 am

Thanks for taking free time to post “Carlisle Winery and Vineyards, Sonoma County”.

Thanks once more ,Harry
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