Since its inception ten years ago, Carina Cellars continues to exemplify Ralph Waldo Emerson’s belief, “Life is a journey, not a destination.” The journey began in 2001 when owner David Hardee met up-and-coming winemaker Joey Tensley at a wine party, and they discovered they shared a vision for creating small quantities of Rhônestyle wines made from fruit sourced throughout the Central Coast.
The very name of the winery evokes a journey of epic proportions: in the Argo Navis constellation, Carina is the keel of the ship that carries Jason and the Argonauts on their quest for the Golden Fleece. David had named his sailboat The Carina, and since she always brought him good fortune and adventure, he felt it only fitting to name his new adventure Carina Cellars.
Carina Cellars opened its first tasting room in downtown Los Olivos in 2004, showcasing Viognier, Syrah, and Rhône blends sourced from well-known vineyards such as Stolpman, Tierra Alta, and Colson Canyon. Three years later, David purchased an 83-acre property on the Westside of Paso Robles, which offered rich soil and a unique microclimate for creating Rhônestyle wines with a broad palate and deep complexity. The 2010 vintage marks the first of these estate-grown wines.
Wine tourers visiting the Paso Robles property first notice the steeply rising hill, atop which sits David’s home. Rows of vines cascade down the 500-foot incline, making it one of the highest vineyards along coastal California, as well as the inspiration for the name Rancho del Cielo, or Ranch of the Sky. They can taste at the winery, picnic beneath the shade of an old oak tree, or take a tour of the 23-acre vineyard. And now, they can even stay overnight in the gorgeous three-bedroom, two-bath ranch house with 360-degree views of Paso Robles’ Westside.
A visit to either of Carina Cellars’ two tasting rooms allows wine tourers to experience what David and Joey have always believed: wine is a journey best shared with others.