Our Story

In the southern hemisphere the constellation Argo Navis is separated into three star clusters: Vela (The Sails), Puppis (The Stern), and Carina (The Keel).  Named for the epic ship Argo and its crew of fifty, the constellation was placed among the stars by the Greek goddess Athena upon completion of the epic quest for the Golden Fleece. The crew, better known as the Argonauts, included Jason, Hercules, Orpheus, Castor and Pollux, triumphed through perils unseen in our modern world and became legends to innumerous generations.

At Carina Cellars we strive to produce wines worthy of being placed among the stars. We seek out vineyards throughout the Central Coast with the best Rhône grapes available in a quest to produce truly great wines. With crisp Viogniers full of tropical fruit and spring flowers, dark Syrahs loaded with spice and lush fruit, earthy Mourvedres and bright, fruity Grenaches. We represent the classic character of Santa Ynez Valley and Paso Robles in our wines.  Our unique Rhône blends: Clairvoyant, Sibylline, and Syrah “7 percent” all strive to embody the traditions of the revered Rhône region, melded with the unique flavors of California’s Central Coast.  In addition our flagship blend, Iconoclast, seeks to defy all conventions with its 67% Cabernet Sauvignon from Napa and 33% Syrah from Santa Barbara County.

Carina Cellars is the result of an avid wine collector with a dream who meets an accomplished winemaker with a vision. When attorney/businessman David Hardee and winemaker Joey Tensley met in 2002, they were quick to recognize the benefits of combining their passion. With Hardee's talent for business, Tensley's talent for wine making, and a shared belief in only the best, Carina Cellars was born.

Working solely with vineyards who share our farming philosophies, Joey and David sought to create wines that exemplify varietal flavors and terroir above all else. Both men knew that Santa Barbara County was the perfect location for growing Rhône wines, but decided to expand their interests further north to Paso Robles.

In the fall of 2006, David purchased Rancho del Cielo, an 83-acre property on Paso Robles Westside.  Since then he has been working hard to plant 23-acres with our favorite Rhône grapes: Syrah, Grenache, Mourvedre, and a few other non-Rhône favorites: Zinfandel and Cabernet Sauvignon.  Fall 2010 marks our first Carina Cellars Estate harvest.

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