Winemaking is a farm to table undertaking – you start off a farmer and your end product is wine.
Michael is a sixth-generation winemaker.
How many years have you been in the Napa Valley wine industry?
Since 1996, so just over 20 years.
How did you get started in the wine business?
I grew up on a vineyard in the Barossa Valley in South Australia. I’m a sixth-generation winemaker in my family, so it was natural for me to be in the wine industry.
Which wine was your "a-ha!" wine – the one that made you love wine or inspired you to get into the industry?
I tasted Henschke’s Hill of Grace, a Barossa Valley Shiraz, when I was young and still remember it to this day.
Name a Napa Valley vintner who has influenced you and briefly explain why.
I have always admired Joseph Phelps wines because of their consistent quality. No matter the vintage or winemaker, you always know that bottle of wine is going to be great.
What are the most rewarding aspects of your work?
Finalizing a blend is rewarding, and all the steps it takes to get there. It’s such an interesting job. Winemaking is a farm to table undertaking – you start off a farmer and your end product is wine.
If you could open a bottle of your wine and share it with any three people (living or not), who would they be?
There are two ways to go with this. If I take the famous winemaker route, I think of legends like Robert Mondavi and the great winemaker of Australia, Peter Lehmann. If I take the celebrity rock star way, I’d choose John Lennon, Steven Tyler and Ronnie Van Zant.
What advice would you offer someone trying to get into the Napa Valley wine industry?
If you want to be a winemaker, make sure you want to be a farmer. Winemaking starts on the farm.
What's one thing people would be surprised to know about you?
I rode Quarter Horses in the Youth Nationals in Australia. This was Western style riding, the real McCoy.