A WINEMAKER WHO ESCHEWS THE STEREOTYPE
Surf, Sand, Sun, and Italian???? freely summarizes San Diegan born turned winemaker Eric Carucci. The Italian Stallion is not quite Sylvester Satallon but his resume is just as impressive for multiple reasons. Foremost, is how he’s managed to skillfully piece together wines with precision and soul in one decade! By industry standards, he’s just a Bambino but his wines are mature and wise. Some people want to try their hand at cooking, others want to try their hand at blackjack or merely just trying one of Carl’s new burgers. Not Eric, he didn’t just decide to “TRY” his hand at winemaking, He ultimately committed his love to the art and it shows. Although, I’m sure Eric would still want to try Carl’s Jr. new burger!
SURFING THE PERFECT WAVE
Eric established his winery in 2010, but that’s far from the crazy story. You see, he didn’t know ZILCH about making wine any more than a baby is capable of driving. The comical part he drank beer ( that would pair well with that Carl’s burger) and NOT wine despite being bred from Italian roots. So how did this 6’3 brunette surfer (yup, not blond) from San Diego come to craft outstanding wines?….easy…SELF TAUGHT!
KICKING THE SAND
The story unfolds when he met a guy in Dry Creek, Sonoma County who owned a vineyard there. I don’t doubt the reason why this vigneron chose to truck his grapes from Central Coast to San Diego County to vinify his wines there. I’m just presuming, but with the wine scene exploding down south, the extensive South County AVA makes complete sense. Eric was inspired by him, and the college graduate decided to buy some of his grapes and make wine. Sure why not, he was living with his parents at the time, and if I was a student straight out of college I’d use my parent’s garage too! After all, the loss of capital is not a hard hit if it didn’t work out. Although I’m envisioning hearing his Mama’ with her hands excitedly waving in the air yelling: “Eric, what’s-a -matta-fa you, this place look-a- like-a, Valentine’s Day Massacre!!!!”
CHASING THE SUN
For once Mama’ was wrong, as the story turns out, it wasn’t a massacre, he proved himself successful! Once more, he embraced every moment of understanding the complicated process. The sunshine-loving man’s easiest decision in his life (besides marrying his soulmate Lindsay) was moving from desk to vineyard permanently. Mr. Carucci left a very “corporate fulfilling life” (LOL), to wrap his hands around making wine.
In 2010 Carucci Wines was realized on California’s Central Coast together with his wife Lindsay. He only made 75 cases and yet, today production still stands at a mere 800 cases. Vineyard site location is imperative to the style of the resulting wine, and Carucci is visceral about where his grapes are sourced. The grapes grow in from enshrined vineyards from cool-climate appellations of Sta. Rita Hills, Edna Valley, Los Alamos, and the Santa Maria Valley. Terroir is clearly defined in Carucci’s finished wines.
THE ITALIAN STALLION
This man may come off as a paisano, all countryman, but don’t be fooled with the stereotype. When Babito and I first met him at his tasting room, he was extremely charismatic. Yes typical of a hands-on winemaker, wearing shorts, a t-shirt, sneakers, a baseball cap, but not typical, with clean fingernails. Understand, Italians are very conscientious about hygiene! However, literally, what drives winemaker Carucci is he is a family man first: husband, a father of three, he then drives to all the vineyards to ensure the grapes chosen are to his standards, next he’s on to the Levo in Paso Robles to vinify his wines, conclusively storing them and lastly manages to be IN PERSON pouring his wines at their tasting room in Los Olivos! INCREDIBLE!
Eric and Lindsay Carucci recently opened a boutique tasting room for Carucci Wines in the glamorously but quaint historic town of Los Olivos, California. It’s a pivotal pocket of the Santa Ynez Valley within the greater Santa Barbara County. Seeing the winemaker pouring his wines at a tasting room is such a huge attraction, and even more so if the tasting room is located right off the main street driving in. However, Carucci pouring the wine for you, and describing its backstory at any level, confirms he takes the tourist-centric mentality out of the taster and fully immerses you in what could be your next Cult Wine! There are many tasting rooms in town, but most will not have the winemaker present representing their wines. You’ll not only be smitten by his infectious personality, good looks (sorry Babito) but essentially devoted to Carucci Wines that exemplify what takes decades to achieve.
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