Vintner Q & A
Stay in Touch

Adam Lee

Clarice Wine Company
Q How did you get involved with the Santa Lucia Highlands?
A In 1997, Gary Pisoni invited me down to visit the area and see his iconic vineyard. That vintage, I began purchasing grapes from him for Siduri Winery. A couple of years later, I began purchasing grapes from Gary Franscioni and his family. To this day, I continue to purchase from both the Pisoni and Franscioni families, now for Clarice Wine Company. Not only are they some of the world’s best grape growers, but I am also honored to call them friends.
Q What do you love most about the Santa Lucia Highlands?
A Over my 25 years as a winemaker, I have produced Pinot Noir from Oregon all the way down to Santa Barbara County. And, while I can find beauty in all areas, when I started Clarice Wine Company, there was no doubt that I would source grapes from the SLH. The Santa Lucia Highlands is truly a unique area, with the afternoon winds blowing through so that it is often cooler at 4pm than it is at 1pm. This allows for an extraordinarily long hang-time and great retention of acidity. Quite simply, it makes for remarkable Pinot Noir.
Q Did your family drink wine at home?
A Not at all. In fact, I grew up in a family of teetotalers in Texas and didn’t drink any alcohol at all until I was in college – and that certainly wasn’t fine wine. It wasn’t until a summer spent in Northern California between my junior and senior years in college that I experienced really fine wine. And, it should come as no surprise, the first red wine I truly fell in love with was a Pinot Noir from Rochioli Winery.
Q What are you drinking right now?
A I have recently been on a big Chateauneuf-du-Pape kick. Not only do I love the wines from this part of France, but I tend to really enjoy the people from there as well. In fact, I am going to be starting a new winery in the 2019 vintage with the leading consulting winemaker in all of Chateauneuf, Philippe Cambie, and we will be working with grapes from the Santa Lucia Highlands.
Q If you weren't a winemaker, what would you do?
A I always thought that I would be a hotel designer. I love to travel and love to stay in different hotels around the world. Doing this often lends me to turn a critical eye to the hotels and I often find myself what changes, if any, I’d make to my room, etc. I am certain there is a lot more to designing a hotel than that, but as long as I am pretending, I might as well pretend that I know all of that as well!
Q What is your favorite music to listen to during harvest?
A I am a hip-hop fan. That tends to surprise a lot of people, but I love lyrics more than any type of particular music. I often laugh that I grew up a Bob Dylan fan and loved lyrics then and still pay the most attention to them today. And that’s why I love hip-hop.
Q What is your favorite place to play or visit in the area?
A I absolutely love El Rinconcito Restaurant in Gonzales. I think it is the finest Mexican food in all of California. I’d eat there every time I am in the area if it were possible.
Q What do you drink after a long day of harvest?
A Coors Light. I have a weak spot for cheap beer.

Santa Lucia Highlands Wine Artisans

Stay In Touch

Sign up to receive occasional stories from the vineyard, news from our vintners, and events in your area.

I Am A