Carter Cellars Winemaking

Carter Cellars’ winemaking begins with the simple idea of matching the best grapes from world-renowned vineyard sources with the unmistakable "purist" talents of our winemaker, Mike Smith. Mike started his winemaking journey under the tutelage of Thomas Brown at Outpost Wines in 2001. Traveling from Portland Oregon, Mike worked each crush "free of charge" to learn the craft. During this tenure, Mike was able to work with a vast array of wine labels including Maybach Family, Schrader Cellars and Rivers Marie. It was during this period that Mike was able to articulate his own philosophies on wine making based on the strong foundation he received while working on these established labels and his own labels, Myriad Cellars, Quivet and ancillary cellars. To quote Mike, "My philosophy is simple: I like to create the most natural and expressive wines California can offer. I believe in allowing the fruit to fully reveal itself in the wines, encouraging the personality and terroir of the vineyards, while showcasing itself to the fullest extent. This allows the wines to be true to their nature and brings harmony in the bottle."

Under Mike's watchful eye and in collaboration with our various vineyard sources, the cultivation of our grapes is an arduous dance which includes limiting vine yields, beneficial trellising techniques, integrating pest management in the vineyard and harvesting completely by hand at the peak moment of ripeness. All of this ensures that the grapes we use are optimal for creating our limited production, high quality wines.

Our practices in the Winery are just as exacting. The small lots of grapes brought into the Winery are hand sorted to remove any that are not up to our exacting standards. Then the grapes are pressed gently to extract the pure juice from the perfectly ripe grapes while leaving behind any bitter oils and harsh tannins contained in the seeds or skins. After fermentation the wines are stored in new French Oak barrels for twenty two months.

The winemaking consists of as little intervention as possible, limiting the addition of sulfur and refining the wine through gravity. The wines are allowed to mature and fully integrate with the new French Oak, creating a product that is true to its varietal character and sense of place.

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The 2017 vintage is available now. Secure these special wines before they sell out.

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The Vineyards

Explore the varied Napa vineyards of Carter Cellar's handcrafted wines, from the Beckstoffer To Kalon to the Weitz Vineyard



May 30 - June 2, 2019
Barrel tasting, parties, live auctions & dinner