Carina Cellars is owned by David Hardee, a very successful attorney who moved to D.C. in 1982 to become Democratic tax council for the Senate Finance Committee (exciting line of work…). His life was forever changed by fellow attorney Robert Parker who was also in D.C. at the same time, and helped David to appreciate how truly amazing a great bottle of wine really is. To quote David “Parker was among the first to consider wine in terms of futures”. Upon leaving D.C. he moved to California and founded Hardee Capital Partners in L.A. and over the next ten years or so built a very successful career in the energy sector. During his time in California he met Joey Tensley a world class wine maker operating his own winery in Santa Barbara County and a partnership was born. With Tensley as winemaker and David guiding the business, Carina Cellars wines have received numerous awards from both local competitions and world famous wine judges including his former colleague Robert Parker and also Wine Spectator.
Derrell and I discovered Carina Cellars on one of our first trips to Paso Robles, as we were blazing our way down Adelaide Road from a day of serious wine tasting on our way to a tasting appointment at Villicana and Alta Colina wineries (located in the same building), we came to a sign that said Carina Cellars. Not wanting to drive by a tasting opportunity, we of course stopped in and upon identifying ourselves as wine shop owners started tasting through all of the wines that were available to the distribution market. One thing that we have learned is that it is usually possible to make a deal on wines that might not be available to us if we agree to purchase a large enough volume. Every wine that we tasted was awesome, they were larger than life, especially the Rhone varietals both their Syrah’s and Rhone style blends were amazing, and they also produce a Zin that has a remarkable level of balance and elegance not typically found in the Paso Robles area. So needless to say we didn’t make it to Villicana or Alta Colina that day, it’s so hard to leave a winery that produces the kind of wines that you really love, however in Paso with so many undiscovered wineries it’s also hard to stay in one place and deny the longing to discover just one more winery. So much for 2012, fast forward to 2014.