Carina Cellars was founded in 2001 by David W. Hardee, with Joey Tensley as the winemaker. David had retired from law practice to pursue other business interests and moved to Santa Monica in 1992. During the next four years, he and his wife visited Santa Barbara 49 times, and decided in 1996 to move to Santa Barbara. They loved the City, the Santa Ynez Valley and all things of food and wine. In no time at all, they started collecting Santa Barbara wine and meeting winemakers and attending many wine tastings and dinners. David concluded that Santa Barbara had a great climate for making world class wines. After he sold one of his businesses, he and Joey Tensley decided to create the Carina Cellars wine label and make Rhone wines.
Joey had started out as a cellar rat at Fess Parker Winery several years before and realized he had the talent to make world class wines. After serving as assistant winemaker at Babcock Winery, he decided to set up Tensley Winery and started making world class syrah. David came to the conclusion he was a world class wine maker and he liked Joey and his style of wine. Thus, Carina Cellars was founded, with Joey making the wine. In order not to compete with the Tensley label, Joey agreed to only make syrah for his label and to make Rhone blends for the Carina Cellars label. Joey also contributed his label Iconoclast to Carina Cellars, which at that time was ⅔ Napa Cabernet and ⅓ Colson Canyon Santa Barbara syrah, and became the flagship wine and name of the wine club.
Since its beginning Carina Cellars has made over 200 different bottlings.
Its wine offering each year includes the following core wines: