Carter Estate Wines

Discover the flavors and aromas of Carter Estate Winery and Resort's wine. From vineyard to cellar we take the time to ensure that every wine we produce is of the utmost quality.

Just one taste of our wines and you’ll detect the unsurpassed level of care that goes into each bottle, grown and produced by the Carter family. Our dynamic wine-barrel program, which uses several cooperages from regions all over the world, ensures only the best of our grapes are placed in the best environments for development and aging. Hand-crafted from vineyard to cellar, discover for yourself the distinction of the Carter Estate Winery collection.

Our Wine List

A blend of  28% Touriga Nacional, 28% Tinta Roriz, 19% Tinta Cao 18% Tinta Nero,  5% Cabernet Sauvignon, 1% Petit Verdot and 1% Merlot

The “Sectio Aurea” or “Golden Ratio” is the mathematical theory behind aperiodic tiling that is a Penrose design.  This type of design is very commonplace in Portugal, Spain and western France where the Moorish influence is reflected in many of the architectural structures and tiled features of historic buildings from that period. Carter Estate PENROSE is a blend of Portuguese and French cultivars, united with the intention that the “Golden Ratio” can be achieved in wine, especially when the elements of the blend are balanced and cohesive. Together the wine and the design embody the rich heritage and feel of Portugal. 

Our Carter Estate PENROSE shows a very exotic fruit aroma of spiced black cherries and raspberries, with deep layers of plum and blackberry. The addition of the Bordelaise varietals adds a dimension of leafy vibrancy, with a sweet earthy warmth to go along with all of the deep berry aromas. A solid, but supple note of French oak (imparted from 18 months of barrel aging) rounds the fruit and gives richness to the wine. This wine truly delivers what the nose has discerned. The structure of the wine is fleshy and full bodied, with perfectly balanced acidity and tannins, plus bold fruit flavors that linger on and on.

PENROSE captures the fundamental splendor of Tinta Roriz and Touriga Nacional, two unique cultivars that are part of the inherent beauty which make up the wines of Portugal.  Discover a different part of the world, discover PENROSE and find out what you have missing.

Technical Information

  • Alc:  14.1%
  • TA:  0.61 gm/100mL
  • pH:  3.51
  • RS:  0.50 gm/100mL

  

The Freedom and Harmony blocks of Merlot occupy approximately 70 acres of our Wild Horse Peak Estate Vineyards. These two blocks are adjacent to one another: Freedom block is east of Harmony and both blocks are north of Thunderbolt. This may sound like directions uptown, but this large portion of our valley bench is fairly flat and well drained. The soils are gradations of alluvial decomposed granite and exposed volcanic outcroppings. The Merlot scion is clone 3, the original Inglenook clone. These vines are in their thirteenth leaf, planted in 1997.

The grapes were harvested under a full moon back in September of 2010. The 2010 harvest was a very well-balanced crop, with the vines yielding around two and a half tons per acre of very concentrated and rich mountain fruit.

The Carter Estate Merlot is a very dark horse indeed! Deep crimson hues soften only slightly at the edges in the inky depths of the glass. The bouquet is radiant in its complexity of aromas. Blueberries and rose petals mingle with a rich chocolate, coffee earthiness that is warmed with French oak. The flavors show the same intensity of character; the chocolate and spicy oak is tightly wrapped around the rich fruit core. This Merlot has a very long finish that is silky and firm with a shapely, tart tannic backbone. Cellaring is optional, but this wine shows incredible promise over the next 5-10 years.

The Carter Estate Merlot was fermented in stainless steel and held on the skins for a total of 18 days. After pressing, the wine was placed in French oak cooperage for 17 months. It was bottled in November 2012 and released in November 2013.

Technical Information:

  • TA: 0.58
  • pH: 3.45
  • RS: 0.38 gms/100 mL
  • Alc: 14.7%
The four different blocks of Cabernet Sauvignon which are planted at Wild Horse Peak are very different in flavor and aroma profile due to their location within the vineyard.  The soils are gradations of alluvial decomposed granite, exposed volcanic outcroppings or sandy riverbed which offer individual expressions of the varietal Cabernet character.  A large portion of our valley bench is fairly flat and well drained, while other portions of the vineyard dip into swales that drain Wild Horse Peak or run adjacent to Dripping Springs Creek. 

The 2013 harvest was a very well balanced crop; the vines yielding around two and a half to three tons per acre of very concentrated and rich mountain fruit.  Blended primarily from the Dry Rock Gulch Block, this wine has portions of Devil’s Hole and Sandy Bottom Blocks. Only 2% of Thunderbolt Block was used in this blend, due to its aggressive nature.

The Carter Estate Cabernet Sauvignon is deep violet that softens to garnet at the edges in the inky depths of the glass.  The bouquet is radiant in its complexity of aromas. Cassis and herbal earthiness mingle with a rich chocolate and coffee note that is warmed with French oak. The flavors show the same intensity of character; the chocolate and spicy oak is tightly wrapped around the rich fruit core. This Cabernet Sauvignon has a very long finish that is silky and firm with a shapely, tannic backbone. Cellaring is optional, but this wine shows incredible promise over the next 5 to 10 years. 

Technical Information

  • Alc:  14.1%
  • TA:  0.66 gms/100mL
  • pH: 3.52
  • RS: 0.33 gms/100 mL

 

Viognier has many proponents and few detractors, yet it is a variety that is not widely understood or consumed.The Temecula Valley has a climate that is conducive to the cultivation of Viognier and the variety seems to do well in the decomposed granitic soils of the valley floor. Viognier is a wonderfully exotic and very intriguing varietal with flavors and aromas that show honeysuckle, orange blossom, plus ripe peach and nectarine.  

Harvest parameters for our Viognier entail picking at peak ripeness, which is slightly over 24°brix, when the flavors are developed and alcohol potential is close to 14%. At Carter Estate we ferment Viognier in stainless steel to accentuate and capture the fruity nature of the grape and we then finish fermentation and subsequent aging in new French oak (approximately 6 to 8 months). This little bit of barrel aging gives the fruit characters depth and complexity, the wood tannins round the flavors with a pleasant, toasty, nuttiness. 

If the fermentation lags and stops, the small amount of residual sugar present adds to the body and overall mouth feel. The intensity of the alcohol is melded and shaped to fit the wine so that final wine is not hot or burning like many California Viogniers. This is a very dynamic wine that has wonderful character and richness which is set apart from the average.

Next time you need a dry white to go with your fish or fowl, think of something different, think Viognier !

Technical Information

  • Alc: 13.9%
  • TA:  0.76 gms/100mL
  • pH:  3.53
  • RS:  0.53 gms/100mL

 

Known as the “Black Grape” of Cahors, the darling of Argentina, or one of the Bordelais 6, Malbec has developed a major following n the American market. Once widely planted in Bordeaux, this grape lost its foothold when a freeze killed most of the original plantings in 1956 and other varietals that were not so temperamental (figuratively and literally) supplanted the grape variety. Now, Malbec is very popular as a red wine choice, mostly due to the efforts of the Argentine wine industry.

Temecula Valley shows distinct promise with this grape. Malbec can be very susceptible to poor fruit set if there is any moisture or cool conditions during bloom, thus making its yield spotty in some years. Our plantings have proven to be reasonably tolerant of the mild winters and springs in Southern California, and typically vines give an average yield (occastionally some vintages have been noticeably low, 2012 was moderate). Known for its big tannings and opulent red and black fruit flavors, Malbec has a wonderful effect on all manner of blends from Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot to Bonarda and Carmenere. 

Our desire to craft a stand alone varietal wine was realized as the magnificence of the 2012 harvest delivered such concentrated and flavorful fruit. A scant 4.5 tons defined the 2012 harvest, which translated into only 4.5 barrels. The 2012 Carter Estate captures not only the beautiful red plum and blackberry fruit characters, but the inherently wonderful herbal scents as well. The tannins are full and rounded with the smoky nuances of new American and French oak that marry the fruit to the fine structure of the wine giving it a gorgeous dimension of finesse and complexity. Crafted to reflect the “suave” side of Malbec, this wine packs loads of character and rich depth that make this a “go to” wine, especially when considering a Malbec. Enjoy Carter Estate Malbec with grilled or roasted meats, stews, or pasta dishes.

  • Alc: 14.1%
  • pH: 3.65
  • TA: 0.57 gms/100 mL
  • RS: 0.44%
Taking Muscat to the next level is the idea behind our DAYBREAK, Signature Solera. This style of Muscat originated in the Setubal region in southern Portugal, and while not necessarily very common in the United States, it is highly prized in Portugal for its spicy and beguiling flavors. The winemaking process starts with the fortification of the lightly fermenting Muscat of Alexandria, Muscat Canelli, and Orange Muscat juice with grape neutral spirits and brandy.  This “Port-style” wine is then placed into older French oak barrels.

After several months in barrel, the young wine enters into the solera process, a technique where older mature wines are blended or topped with younger wines.  Adding young wine to old wine brings a layer of new, fresh complexity, and in turn, this creates and establishes consistency.  The new wine immediately takes on characteristics of the older wine and continues to age further in the barrels. This method brings immediate depth and complexity to a young wine, while moderating the age and complexity of the older wine with a burst of freshness.  Wines used in the DAYBREAK blend date back to 1995 and the average age of the bottled blend is approximately 15 years old.    

Using the solera process to produce DAYBREAK results in a wine that is intensely rich and fruity with Muscat character. Each of the Muscat varietals used have their own signature “Muscat” character and together they create a beautiful floral and tropical fruit salad. The barrels used on this wine are older, so as not to impart a big woody character, but more of a caramel note with a touch of toasted nuts; aged, yet enthusiastically youthful.  Hints of orange peel, ripe pineapple, apricot and honeysuckle aromas meld nicely with the subtleties of French oak aging; it is wonderfully balanced and a delightful end to any meal.

Technical Information

  • Alc:  18.8-19.5% 
  • TA:  0.48 gms/100mL
  • pH:  3.76
  • RS:  18.8-19.8 gms/100mL


The Freedom and Harmony blocks of Merlot occupy approximately 70 acres of our Wild Horse Peak Estate Vineyards. These two blocks are adjacent to one another: Freedom block east of Harmony, both blocks North of thunderbolt. This may sound like directions uptown, but this large portion of our valley bench is fairly flat and well drained. The souls are gradations of alluvial decomposed granite and exposed volcanic outcroppings. The Merlot scion is clone 3, the original Inglenook clone. These vines are now in their eighteenth season, originally planted in 1997.

The 2012 harvest was a very well balanced crop, the vines yielding around two and a half tons per acre of very concentrated and rich mountain fruit; the grapes were harvested the first week of September under a full moon. Coincidence? Well, the Carter Estate Merlot is a very dark horse indeed! Deep crimson hues soften only slightly at the edges in the inky depths of the glass. The bouquet is radiant in its complexity of aromas. Blueberries and rose petals mingle with a rich chocolate, coffee earthiness, lightly tinged with a pretty herbal note that is warmed with French oak. The flavors show the same intensity of character; the chocolate and spicy oak is tightly wrapped around the rich fruit core. This Merlot has a very strong finish that is silky and firm with a shapely, tannic backbone. Cellaring is optional, but this wine shows incredible promise over the next 5 to 10 years.

  • Alc: 14.7%
  • TA: 0.58 gms/100 mL
  • pH: 3.51
  • RS: 0.52 gms/100mL

Information coming soon.

The original plantings of Wild Horse Peak Mountain Vineyards in 1996 included 15 acres of Clone 04 Chardonnay. The elevation and location of our mountain vineyards made it very difficult for this white variety to thrive due to the late spring freezes we often saw in the Agua Tibia Mountains. (Chardonnay tends to bud out much earlier than other varieties, especially reds, and thus would suffer freeze damage.) Much of this Chardonnay was grafted to heartier red varietals to negate this issue, but the Mustang Knoll block has two of the original acres of Chardonnay that were not grafted. The Mustang Knoll block had enough elevation and air drainage that spring freezes were not a problem. So, alongside that original planting has significant sun exposure and shallow soils which cause the vines to struggle and produce a small and concentrated crop.

This marks the first vintage of Chardonnay to be released under Carter Estate label. The 2013 was fermented and aged for 10 months exclusively in new Francois Freres French oak barrels. The robust richness of the oak gives the otherwise modest nature of Chardonnay a defining dynamic. The oak adds a beautiful note of toasted nuts and vanilla spice to the ever present apple and tropical fruit aromas. Approximately 20% of this wine underwent malo-lactic fermentation, which adds a delicate softness to the mouth-feel and a subtle caramel, buttery bouquet. The style of this wine balances the oak and fruit, so that both components are in singular harmony, each accentuating the other. This wine will continue to grow in complexity as it ages, and has the capacity to go for several more years in the bottle. Created to be a statement, our Carter Estate Chardonnay pars with rich sauces and seafood or fowl, as well as being the perfect aperitif.

 

  • Alc: 13.6%
  • TA: 0.51 gms/100 mL
  • pH: 3.45
  • RS: 0.33 gms/100 mL

 

Information coming soon.

The 2013 Vintage of Sangiovese was an exceptional harvest that brought forth an incredibly dense and low yield crop (14.9 tons off of 6 acres). The fruit was darker in color and more developed than in previous vintages; varietal character, tannins and color were rich and very concentrated. In turn, the wine produced was exceptional, mirroring the richly extracted classic Brunello and Marrema styles of Sangiovese that we have typically produced under the Wild Horse Peak label. As a grape varietal, Sangiovese is a versatile and unique grape that shapes the structure of so many Italian wines. Whether it is blended or a standalone varietal, the signature ripe cherry aromas, tangy acidity and delicate garnet color are often given additional richness from aging in oak barrels, as is the case in our 2013 vintage. 

This is a wine that captured our hearts and we are very excited to present this beautiful Sangiovese under the Carter Estate label. The 2013 vintage is a wine with rich textures and flavors, the dark cherry fruit is highlighted with a subtle spiciness that shows a range of baker’s spices and the tannins are velvety smooth. Aged for 18 months in new French oak barrels that were specifically coopered for Sangiovese, this wine has wonderful depth and richness. Perfect by itself, with grilled meats, pastas or with hors d’oeuvres, this classic red wine is just the thing to complement any great meal.