Lisa Bishop Forbes
Lisa Bishop Forbes, Chalk Hill Estate's Director of Winemaking, grew up in Acton, a small, high desert town located an hour north of Los Angeles. Framed by the San Gabriel Mountains to the south and the Sierra Paloma Mountains to the north, Acton's four-season climate, country lifestyle and easy access to the San Fernando Valley and LA provided the ideal setting for Lisa's childhood.
It was in Acton, working at her uncle's recreation park, that Lisa built the foundation for her strong work ethic. Starting at age 11, she spent her summers working in the concession stands and helping with events for the families and corporate groups that frequented the popular destination. Even after her family moved to Lodi, Lisa would still spend summers in Acton working at the park.
Her teenage years in Lodi offered Lisa her first glimpse of the wine industry. In addition to being surrounded by vineyards, her father had a number of friends and associates with ties to local wineries and growers. When it came time to choose a college, her decision to attend Fresno State to study winemaking was influenced by her exposure to the wine community and her love of chemistry. In addition to the academic strength of Fresno, Lisa appreciated the hands-on training that is a major part of this institution's educational programs.
After earning her degree, Lisa took a job as enologist at Joseph Phelps Vineyards. It didn't take long for her to realize she had chosen the right profession; Phelps proved to be the ideal place to start a career. Lisa spent the next nine years helping manage harvest activities, organizing and participating in winemaker tastings, maintaining records and, of course, running the lab. In addition to working with a number of different grape varieties, Lisa's experience with Insignia taught her a lot about the art of blending.
In 1995, Lisa had the opportunity to join the Chalk Hill Estate winemaking team as Assistant Winemaker, working first with David Ramey and then with Bill Knuttel. "Chalk Hill for me was love at first sight,” says Lisa. "It's so secluded and hidden that you have no idea how beautiful it is. From a winemaker's perspective the Estate has everything – diverse soils, aspects, elevations, row orientations and exposures. The clones, rootstocks, trellising and farming methods are all matched perfectly to each micro-site. And the wines show the effects of all this attention. They are concentrated, intense, balanced and specific to their terroir."
Lisa left Chalk Hill in 2004 to become Associate Winemaker at Dry Creek Vineyard to work again with Bill Knuttel, Dry Creek's Executive Winemaker. She ran all of the day-to-day production activities for the family-owned winery, specializing in Sauvignon Blanc, Cabernet Sauvignon and Zinfandel. In 2008, Lisa was promoted to Winemaker.
Two years later the opportunity arose to become the Director of Winemaking for Chalk Hill Estate. As much as she enjoyed Dry Creek, Lisa couldn't resist the opportunity to return to her old stomping ground.
As winemaker, Lisa directs all of Chalk Hill's vinous activities, partnering with cellarmaster/production manager Darrell Holbrook and also with Mark Lingenfelder, the Vice President of Vineyard Operations. "It is a pleasure to have such a great winemaking and vineyard team. Having been at Chalk Hill for the last 30 years, Mark has an innate connection and understanding of the vineyards. He is integral to the quality and style of the wines produced here."
Lisa's goal at Chalk Hill is to have each wine showcase the character and personality of the vineyard. "I prefer wines that possess pure aromatics, concentrated flavors and elegance. I like to see a balance between fruit, alcohol, tannins, acidity and oak. I enjoy wines that are understated rather than obvious. A great wine should make you think. It should offer both intellectual and hedonistic satisfaction. Most of all, a great wine should tempt you to come back for more. Those are the qualities I've always admired in Chalk Hill's wines"
When not drinking Chalk Hill wines, Lisa enjoys Champagne, German Rieslings and southern Rhone wines. "I like to try different things, especially wines that I don't make. I'm particularly fond of German Rieslings. In addition to their affinity for food, I love the way they age."
Lisa and her husband Ken live in nearby Windsor with their son Colin and Oscar, the flying dog. She enjoys cooking, gardening and playing classical music on the piano.