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, planted 10 acres of mountainside vineyards, and named their small country estate Montemaggiore in honor of the family’s ancestral home, Montemaggiore Balsito, in southern Italy. Organic and biodynamic farming practices were the hallmark of the property. As the winemaker for Montemaggiore, Lise focused on making Syrahs, with French-style Syrahs holding a special fascination for her. She and Vincent sold the winery in 2018.

Montemaggiore was all about family for Lise, which includes her husband, who was the winegrower, her son Paolo, and their dog Zeppli.