The Wine History Project Honors Vicki Carroll as a wine educator in San Luis Obispo County who promoted local winemakers, growers and agriculture in the 1990s. She founded her own marketing consulting firm before becoming the President and Executive Director of Hospice du Rhône with the mission of improving the business conditions for grape growers and wine producers of Rhône variety wines and grapes throughout the world.
Vicki Carroll has been an outstanding educator and innovator in the Wine Industry for decades. Her influence started locally but is now known worldwide. She is observant and strategic which has enabled her to provide outstanding leadership. As the first director of the Edna Valley Arroyo Grande Valley Vintners Association (now known as SLO Coast Wine) and currently as president of the international nonprofit focused on promotion of Rhône varieties, Hospice du Rhône, she has always been a role model for others.
Impact on Wine History in San Luis Obispo County
- Organized the first public wine tasting in 1991 to introduce the wineries, winemakers and their unique wines located in the Edna Valley (the first AVA in the county) and the Arroyo Grande Valley to the local residents of San Luis Obispo County.
- First director of the Edna Valley Arroyo Grande Valley Vintners Association where she designed marketing strategies to promote wines of the South County.
- First event as director of the Edna Valley Arroyo Grande Valley Vintners Association, the Harvest Celebration, showcased local wines to introduce winemakers in the Edna and Arroyo Grande Valleys to the public. This fall harvest celebration continues to this day.
- Recognized the need for developing effective and well coordinated marketing strategies for the local wine industry.
- One of the first women to found her own consulting firm in 1998 to advise local businesses in the wine industry on marketing expertise and public relations in San Luis Obispo County.
- Mentors and supports women seeking careers in the local wine industry.
- Founded the San Luis Obispo County Chapter of Women for WineSense, a nonprofit organization that provides scholarships to women seeking education and careers in the wine industry. Served as President from 2002 to 2004.
- Raised funds to establish the WineSense Endowment Fund to establish viticultural resources for educational purposes at the Special Collections Division of the Robert E. Kennedy Library at California Polytechnic University in San Luis Obispo.
- Served on the County Agency San Luis Agricultural from 1991 to 2000 to determine the need for and provide viticultural education in the local schools and in the community.
- Developed the “Viticulture Trunk Show” lesson plan for the San Luis Obispo County Ag as a member of the Classroom Committee to educate children and provide access to field trips to observe local crops and farming techniques in the vineyards.
- Provides leadership to strengthen the bonds and enhance visibility of Rhône Producers around the world through events and education.
- Has served 24 years as President and Executive Director of Hospice du Rhône coordinating the biennial Hospice du Rhône event in Paso Robles for more than 120 Rhône variety producers from around the world, providing education, tastings, and a sense of community worldwide among winemakers and growers.
- Established a Rhône Master Class series, Focus 22, in 2018 to expand Hospice du Rhône’s educational opportunities for members.
- Created educational partnerships with International Organizations including France-based InterRhône and collaborated on seminars for Découvertes en Vallée du Rhône.
- Serves on the Wine and Viticulture Advisory Committee at the California Polytechnic University from 2003 to the present.
- Named as Industry Leader by California Polytechnic University in 2015.
- Celebrated as Wine Industry Person of the Year in 2015 by the Paso Robles Wine Country Alliance in association with The San Luis Obispo Wine Country Associations which represent over 450 companies in the Wine Industry including wineries, vineyards and associated businesses.
- Selected as nominee for Wine Enthusiast Wine Star Awards Person of the Year in 2019.
Twenty-Two Rhône Wine Varieties
- Bourboulenc: (Burr-buh-lanc) light bodied, delicate floral, citrus, peach, melon, earth
- Camarese: (Cam-are-ess) firm, tannins, delicate aromatics, pepper, spice
- Carignane Noir: (Care-ig-non No-our) tannic, solid acidity, good color, cherry, raspberry, pepper
- Cinsault Noir: (Sahn-so No-our) elegant, soft & lightly aromatic, strawberry, raspberry, smoke, earth
- Clairette Blanc: (Claret Blan) big bodied, floral, aromatic, honeysuckle, tropical flowers, tropical fruits
- Clairette Rose: (Clare-et Rose) light aromatics, fruit notes, soft strawberry, cherry, rose petal
- Counoise Noir: (Coon-wahz No-our) lively acidity, spice, richness, raspberry, cherry, cranberry
- Grenache Blanc: (Gra-nash blan) big bodied, soft, delicate peach, melon, pear
- Grenache Gris: (Gra-Nash Gree) full-bodied, light in color, delicate strawberry, cherry, rose petal
- Grenache Noir: (Gra-Nash o-our) big bodied, supple, & rich strawberry, raspberry, blackberry, black pepper
- Marsanne: (Mar-san) broad palate, soft & rich, peach, nectarine, stone fruits, tuberose, sweet nuts
- Mourvèdre: (More-ved) tannic, deeply colored, aromatic, black currant, dark cherries, leather, smoke, earth
- Muscardin: (Mus-car-dan) floral, aromatic, firmly structured, rose petal, barnyard, earth
- Muscat a Petits Grains: (Mus-cat ah Pet-eet Grahn) aromatic, floral, musk, honey, honeysuckle, lily, stone fruit
- Picpoul Blanc: (Peek-pool Blan) floral, soft, aromatic, pear, earth, lily, daisy, wildflowers
- Picpoul Noir: (Peek-pool No-our) floral, elegant, aromatic, rose, violet, dark cherry
- Roussanne: (Roo-sahn) firmly structured, powerful, very rich, apricot, honey, almond, nutmeg, honeysuckle, iris
- Syrah/Shiraz: (C-rah)/(She-raz) highly colored, firmly structured and aromatic, plum, raspberry, blueberry, blackcurrant, violet, roasted meats, smoke, chocolate, pepper, anise
- Terret Noir: (Tare-it No-our) delicate, perfumed, bright acidity, rose petal, lavender, dark berries, spice
- Ugni Blanc: (Ewn-yee Blan) delicate fruit, good acidity, pear, honey-dew melon, earth
- Vaccarese: (Vac-car-ess) aromatic, firmly tannic, floral, pepper, spice, earth, smoke
- Viognier: (Vee-ohn-yea) big bodied, very aromatic, complex apricot, musk, peaches, grapefruit, lychee, papaya, mango, tropical flowers
First Public Wine Tasting for Wineries – La Fiesta de San Luis Obispo
Vicki organized the first public wine tasting in the city of San Luis Obispo in 1991, highlighting the wineries in the Edna Valley and the Arroyo Grande Valley, both located just south of the city of San Luis Obispo. These two valleys are well known for their premium grapes and fine wines, particularly Chardonnay and Pinot Noir. Vicki wisely combined the tasting with the La Fiesta de San Luis Obispo Celebration, a remarkable event to raise funds for the restoration of the San Luis Obispo de Tolosa Mission. The event was held in the Mission gardens under the arbor with old vines growing, surrounded by roses. The winemakers were very impressed with her success.
First Director of the Edna Valley Arroyo Grande Valley Vintners Association
In 1991, Vicki became the first director of the newly formed Edna Valley Arroyo Grande Valley Vintners Association. She was hired unanimously by the association members who recognized her talents. There were no role models for Vicki; she developed the job description and designed the marketing and promotion of local wines. Her first major event, the Harvest Celebration, took place in November. Johnine Talley of Talley Vineyards helped organize the event. Well known winemakers were invited including the iconic Jim Clendenen, founder of Au Bon Climat Winery in Santa Maria. The Harvest Celebration continues to this day. This organization continues to thrive and is now known as SLO Coast Wine.
In 1998 Vicki resigned as Director and founded her own consulting firm to provide Public Relations and Marketing Expertise to the wine industry.
During her years as a consultant, Vicki has also hosted numerous California producer tastings for wine critics such as Robert Parker, Jeb Dunnuck and Antonio Galloni. She is well-known and respected by wine critics and writers nationwide.
The Viticulture Trunk Show – Education in the local schools
Vicki’s interests broadened to include all crops grown in the county. From 1991 to 2000 she served on the board of San Luis Obispo County Ag in the Classroom. She immediately developed a “Viticulture Trunk Show” which she presented in local classrooms throughout the county and the annual Agventure. The program also established agriculture field days and continues as an important educational resource for students and teachers.
Women for WineSense – An Endowment at Cal Poly
In 1999, Vicki founded a local chapter of the Women for WineSense, a nonprofit organization that provides scholarships to support women pursuing careers in the wine industry. As President from 2000 to 2002, Vicki raised funds to establish an endowment at Cal Poly in the local chapter name. This endowment provides funds to acquire viticulture resources for Special Collections in the Robert E. Kennedy Library. Vicki has continued to be a member of the group.
Hospice du Rhône – An Introduction
Hospice du Rhône is a non-profit business league, located on the Central Coast, with the mission of improving the business conditions of grape growers and wine producers of Rhône variety wines and grapes throughout the world. The organization serves as an international vintners association, providing promotional and educational opportunities. It is the largest international organization focused on Rhône grape varieties. There are twenty-two Rhône grape varieties grown around the world.
The Hospice du Rhône event held biannually in Paso Robles, California, brings over 120 international Rhône producers together in celebration of Rhône wines for three days. Educational seminars, wine tastings, fine foods paired with Rhone Wines, music and ideas are shared. New friendships and shared experiences add to the excitement.
Vicki’s leadership has strengthened the bonds and visibility of Rhône producers around the world. As President and Executive Director of Hospice du Rhône, Vicki Carroll has consistently focused on championing ideas, commonalities, inclusivity and the fostering of community.
Vicki Carroll, Executive Director, Transforms Hospice du Rhône
As President and Executive Director of Hospice du Rhône, Vicki Carroll has led the nonprofit business league in their mission of improving the business conditions of the grape growers and wine producers of Rhône varieties, throughout the world.
Vicki began working with the organization in 1999, after being recruited by founders John Alban and Mat Garretson.
Over her 24-year tenure with Hospice du Rhône, Carroll has been instrumental in developing the organizations biannual Paso Robles event into a world class educational opportunity for Rhône winemakers and allied industries. Seminars have featured major producers such as revered Northern Rhône winemaker Philippe Guigal of E. Guigal, defining Spanish Priorat winemaker Alvaro Palacios, and Australian trailblazers Chester Osborn of d’Arenberg and Prue and Stephen Henschke of Henschke, in addition to bringing attention to emerging Rhône producers such as South African winemakers focusing on Cinsault, the push of strong Rhône wines coming out of Washington, Oregon and Arizona, all while maintaining a solid footing in highlighting the incredible progression of California Rhône producers. Notable seminar moderators include Lauren Buzzeo and Matt Kettmann of Wine Enthusiast, Jeb Dunnuck of jebdunnuck.com, James Molesworth of Wine Spectator and Elaine Chukan Brown of Jancis Robinson.
Hospice du Rhône At Blackberry Farm
In addition to the Paso Robles event, Carroll has directed the Hospice du Rhône at Blackberry Farm partnership, an annual event at Blackberry Farm in Tennessee now in its 13th year. This beautiful setting with lovely accommodations and outstanding cuisine has brought people together in smaller groups to learn about and taste Rhône wines.
She has partnered with the France-based InterRhône on seminars for Découvertes en Vallée du Rhône.
Contributions to California Polytechnic University, San Luis Obispo
Vicki Carroll is a third-generation Californian. She graduated from Cal Poly University with a Bachelors of Science in Social Science. In 2003 Vicki was appointed as a member of the Cal Poly Wine and Viticulture Advisory Council.
Vicki Carroll has been recognized for her achievements and contributions to education in both agriculture and viticulture. California Polytechnic State University, San Luis Obispo, Department of Wine and Viticulture, recognized her as an Industry Leader in 2015 at the annual Vines to Wines Dinner.
Vicki Carroll lives in the Edna Valley of San Luis Obispo, California where she owns a vineyard with her husband, Howard Carroll. She has two daughters – Erin Carroll of Brooklyn, New York and Shannon Wood of Templeton, California. She loves spending time with her two grandsons, Everett and Caleb.
In addition, Vicki has contributed to community efforts to raise funds supporting the needs of San Luis Obispo County. She served on the founding board of the Community Foundation of San Luis Obispo County, working to educate the community on the importance of philanthropy and its role in assessing the needs of the community in the present and the future.
She values education and was the first to develop a viticulture lesson plan for local teachers while serving on the San Luis Obispo County Ag in the Classroom Committee.
Additionally, Vicki values local history and works tirelessly to preserve the iconic architecture designed by architect Julia Morgan.Since becoming a member in 2012, Vicki has served on the Monday Clubhouse Conservancy Board as Director of Building and Grounds, Publicity Chair and Chair of the
Capital Campaign Committee, and currently, President. During her tenure the building, designed by esteemed architect Julia Morgan whose other major project in the area includes Hearst Castle, has been placed in the National Registry of Historic Places.
As winemaker Mike Sinor speaks for all of us , “Vicki Carroll is absolutely awesome.”