Lise Ciolino

Lise Ciolino

Montemaggiore (Winemaker and Co-Owner)

When Lise Ciolino was a child her parents enjoyed wine with dinner every night, and they offered their children small portions. She always preferred white wine and did not develop a taste for red wine until, at age 16, she traveled to the Rhône valley with her father, who was an avid wine collector. They stopped at the house of Chapoutier to buy wine, and, during a magnificent four-hour luncheon, she tasted her first Hermitage, which is made solely from the Syrah grape.

As a college student, she studied mathematics and computer science at Brown University and later pursued a career in the software industry, moving to the Bay Area where she rekindled her deep interest in wine. The romance and her love of wine grew over time, soon becoming an absorbing passion.

Lisa began her wine career by helping friends in their vineyard. A weekend course in viticulture at the University of California, Davis led to an enology course, which led, in turn to making a barrel of wine in the garage, exploratory trips to various wine regions, and more courses, more home winemaking, wine tastings, and wine seminars. She completed all the extension courses available at UC Davis and Sonoma State University, including wine chemistry, pest management, and wine marketing.

In 2001, Lise and her husband,Vincent, purchased 55 acres in Sonoma County’s Dry Creek Valley and planted 10 acres of mountainside vineyards at Montemaggiore, a small country estate in Sonoma County. Organic and biodynamic farming practices are used. As the winemaker for Montemaggiore, Lise focuses on making Syrahs. French Syrahs have continued to hold a special fascination for her.

Montemaggiore is all about family for Lise, which includes her husband, Vincent, the winegrower, her son Paolo, and their dog Zeppli. Montemaggiore is named for the family’s ancestral home, Montemaggiore Balsito, in southern Italy.