VAULT29: How long after your schooling did you start Caliza?
CARL: I was so hooked that within a year of starting school we started of determining and planning where we wanted to live and more importantly where we wanted to explore this idea of a career in wine. I knew I wanted to grow and make Rhone style wines, so this obviously influenced where we’d eventually settle. We researched areas up and down the West Coast, including Oregon and Washington state. In November of 2002, we decided to take a road trip from our home in the bay area down to San Diego County to visit my mother and father for Thanksgiving, and long the way we got stuck in fog late one night in Salinas. We drove a few more hours in the heavy fog and ended up in San Miguel at the only motel that had a visible light on. In the morning, as we woke up looking for coffee, we drove one exit south to downtown Paso Robles. We stumbled upon an old school breakfast counter and historic Paso Robles Inn. We loved the charm of the town! We stayed a couple of days to explore the area. We found a real estate office with properties for sale posted in the window and looking back this was the first step in our search for a suitable property that we would become the home base for the next phase of our lives.
VAULT29: Did you find a property on that trip? Or did it take awhile?
CARL: We didn’t buy a property until late 2002 – a small vineyard on the property which is our home today in the heart of the Templeton Gap. I was really eager to put my schooling to work and start applying all the things I was learning. This small property produced Cabernet Sauvignon which I used to practice my winemaking skills. During the first few vintages, we were commuting weekly between the Bay Area where we maintained our day jobs and Paso Robles where we were farming our “little” vineyard learning more about winemaking on the weekends. Eventually, in late 2003 we bought a second, larger Templeton Gap property on Anderson Road that would become Caliza’s “home base” and primary vineyard site. It was planted to a 30 acre vineyard of Chardonnay and Pinot Noir. Although these were not the varieties we wanted to use in our winemaking the site had amazing dirt, microclimate, and terrain and overall, it was a great location for a many reasons. In 2004, we farmed the Chardonnay and Pinot but were really disappointed with the results so in 2005, we removed that vineyard and spent the entire year bringing the land back to square one installing completely new infrastructure with a new irrigation system, vine trellising, etc. In 2006, we reestablished the vineyard and replanted the land with mostly our favorite Rhone varietals. This is now our 10th year farming the “new” vineyard.