Get the Dirt from Chuck Carlson of Carlson Wines

9 Nov

Q. What will you be pouring at The Garagiste Festival?
A. I will be pouring 3 different Pinots.  2008 Carlson Talley Vineyards “The Wedge”, 2008 Carlson Pinot Noir Le Bon climat Vineyard and 2008 Carlson Pinot Noir Santa Rita Hills, Las Hermanas Vineyard.

Q. Tell us something about Carlson Wines.
A.  I am fortunate to make wine at my day job location, Curtis Winery.  The Firestone family is kind enough to allow me to make a few hundred cases of my own wine here.  The winery is a small state of the art winery with all of the really nice winemaking toys.

Q. How did you get started making wine?
A. My winemaking career started in the San Joaquin Valley where I grew up in a farming family.  Unfortunately we were growing oranges instead of wine grapes.  I enjoyed farming and all things associated with the labor of producing a crop and winemaking allowed me the opportunity to take that another step and have some fun.  After attending CSU Fresno and obtaining a degree in winemaking, I moved over to the Central Coast and started my winemaking career with Zaca Mesa winery. The wine industry was really just getting started over here and it was a great time to get involved in the industry. The rest, as they say, is history. My day job is very rewarding as well. Since 1994 I have been involved with Curtis Winery down in Los Olivos.  We are an estate winery specializing in Rhone Varietals.

Q. What kind of wine do you make?
A. Under my Carlson brand, I focus on Pinot Noir.  During my tenure in the area, I have some wonderful freindships with winemakers and growers who have allowed me to purchase some fruit from their vineyards.  I have selected the blocks and clones which I feel will really express themselves showing their sense of place.

Q. What do you hate about making wine?
A. Paper work!

Q. Besides your own, what is your favorite wine region in the world?
A. The Rhone Valley.  So much diversity and really interesting wines to taste.

Q. Old World or New World?
A. A blend of both.  Our grape growing techniques allows us to grow grapes with New World wines in mind. We try and be mindful and produce a wine with a bit of Old World character. Finess, balance and varietal character.

Q. Would it be as much fun to be a winemaker if you had to abide by the appellation laws of France or Italy?
A. I think a lot of vineyards and wineries would not exist due to where they are located.  Our temperatures and weather are very different here in California than in Europe and other grape growing areas.  We are able to adapt to ensure that we grow really nicely balanced grapes.

Q. What did you learn from your first vintage?
A. The entire process is a learning experience.  After you understand what happens throughout the year you can begin to see how things can be altered or changed to make better wines.

Q. What’s the story behind the name of your winery/label?
A.  I’m not overly creative so I used my last name.

Q. Any advice to offer aspiring winemakers?
A.  Be patient.

For more information about Carlson Wines, click here.

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