It was time they had their own place. After 15 years of toiling in a warehouse custom-crush facility in Santa Rosa, Calif., Mike and Kendall Officer, owners of Carlisle Winery, have bought a winery in Russian River Valley.
They closed a deal yesterday on Robert Mueller's winery on Starr Road west of Windsor. The facility is approved to produce up to 10,000 cases annually, and while nearly 21 acres of land are included in the sale, there are no vineyards. Officer declined to reveal the purchase price.
Mueller, which has received high marks for its Pinot Noir, Chardonnay and Zinfandel, is moving into a new facility within a few months.
Punchdown Cellars custom crush has been home for Carlisle since the first vintage in 1998 but that was just 650 cases in the beginning. When the 2012 harvest was much larger than anyone expected—Carlisle found itself with more than 9,000 cases of wine to contend with—the Officers and their right-hand man Jay Maddox decided they needed more space. Not so they could bump up production, but to keep pushing the envelope on quality.
"We just thought if we were going to take it to the next level, this was the thing to do," Mike Officer said. That will be some challenge, since Carlisle is already among the top producers in California. The reds regularly receive outstanding and classic ratings from Wine Spectator.
In 2012, the winery is making 27 bottlings. It's an eclectic lineup. There are 15 different Zinfandels, all produced from vineyards first planted between 1881 and 1934. There are also five Syrahs, two Mourvèdre blends, two white field blends, a Grenache blend, a Petite Sirah and a Grüner Veltliner.
Although the new winery has a permit for a tasting room, Carlisle doesn't have spare wine to sell. Mailing list customers snatch up nearly every bottle on release, so for now the winery won't be open to the public. "Kendall and I were thinking that maybe we need to make something for the tasting room," Officer said.
Now that they own Russian River real estate, perhaps they'll plant Pinot Noir or Chardonnay? Nah, Officer said. That's too inside the box for him. "I'm thinking about," he paused, "Chenin Blanc."