by | May 4, 2021 | Winemakers | 1 comment

A Winemaker Who Eschews the Stereotype

Defying expectations

Picture this: Surf, sand, sun, and an Italian touch that defies convention. That’s the story of Eric Carucci, a San Diegan native who swapped the beach for the vineyard, transforming into a winemaker of remarkable prowess. He might not be Sylvester Stallone, but his journey is a cinematic tale in its own right. In just one decade, Eric has mastered the art of winemaking with precision and passion that belies his relative youth in the industry.

While some people dabble in cooking or try their luck at the blackjack table, Eric chose a different path. He didn’t merely “try” his hand at winemaking; he was wholeheartedly committed to this art form, and the results are nothing short of spectacular. And yes, he might still be tempted by the latest burger from Carl’s Jr.

Riding the Wine Wave

Photo by Heather of Craft & Cluster

Photo by Heather of Craft & Cluster

Eric founded his winery in 2010, a story far from ordinary. Here’s the twist: He knew next to nothing about making wine, much like a baby trying to drive a car. What’s even more crazy is that he prefers beer over wine, despite his Italian heritage. So, how did this tall, dark-haired surfer from San Diego end up crafting exceptional wines? It’s a simple story—self-taught determination.

Taking The Plunge And Kicking In The Sand

The story begins when Eric meets with a vineyard owner in Dry Creek, Sonoma County. It’s safe to assume that the decision to transport grapes from the Central Coast to San Diego County for winemaking had its reasons. While we can only speculate, the burgeoning wine scene down south and the vast South County AVA certainly played a role. Eric found inspiration in this meeting, and as a recent college graduate, he decided to buy some grapes and embark on a winemaking journey. After all, when you’re living with your parents post-college, using their garage seems like a logical step, isn’t it? The beauty of it is that if things went south, the financial hit wouldn’t be too severe. But imagine his mother, animatedly waving her hands, exclaiming, “Eric, what’s-a-matta-fa you? This place looks like the Valentine’s Day Massacre!”

Chasing the California sun

Contrary to Mama’s fears, Eric’s venture wasn’t a massacre; it was a resounding success! He embraced every step of the intricate winemaking process. For this sun-loving individual, the decision to leave behind a “fulfilling corporate life” (yes, you read that right) and dive into winemaking was surprisingly easy.

In 2010, Eric and his wife Lindsay brought Carucci Wines to life on California’s Central Coast. They started with a modest 75 cases, but today, production has grown to a still-modest 800 cases. Eric’s deep understanding of the importance of vineyard location to wine style is evident. His grapes hail from revered vineyards in cool-climate appellations like Sta. Rita Hills, Edna Valley, Los Alamos, and Santa Maria Valley. Terroir leaves an indelible mark on Carucci’s finished wines.

The modern Italian

Eric may give off a paisano vibe, a true countryman, but don’t let stereotypes fool you. When we first met him at his tasting room, he exuded charisma. While he might look like your typical hands-on winemaker—shorts, a t-shirt, sneakers, a baseball cap—one thing stands out: clean fingernails. Hygiene is a top priority for Italians! What truly drives winemaker Carucci, though, is his commitment to his family. First, a husband and father of three, then a meticulous grape selector, followed by a stint at the Levo in Paso Robles for vinification, and finally, overseeing storage. And the icing on the cake? Eric is there in person, pouring his wines in the tasting room in Los Olivos. It’s nothing short of incredible!

A Taste Of Los Olivos

Eric and Lindsay Carucci have recently unveiled a boutique tasting room for Carucci Wines in the charming and historic town of Los Olivos, California. Nestled in the heart of the Santa Ynez Valley within greater Santa Barbara County, this pocket of paradise beckons wine enthusiasts. Having the winemaker himself pour and share the wine’s backstory is a major draw. Moreover, the tasting room’s location right off the main street adds to the appeal. At Carucci Wines, Eric transcends the typical tourist experience, immersing you fully in what could be your next cult wine. While many tasting rooms abound in town, few offer the unique experience of having the winemaker personally present to represent their wines. You’ll be captivated not only by his infectious personality and good looks (apologies to Babito) but, more importantly, by the dedication that Carucci Wines embodies, a dedication that usually takes decades to achieve.

Ciao! I hope you enjoyed the article CARUCCI WINES IN LOS OLIVOS, CA

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