Founded in 1983 by Sir Peter Michael CBE and his wife Margaret, Peter Michael Winery produces some of California’s finest wines.
Originally from the UK, Michael was an engineer, creating and managing a range of companies, which saw him knighted for his services to the industry in 1989. He went on to found Classic FM in 1992.
Inspired by the success of Californian wines at the Judgement of Paris in 1976, Michael started his search for the perfect site for a winery of his own in the Golden State. In 1982, he discovered Sugarloaf Ranch in Knights Valley – a property on the western slopes of Mount St Helena, planting the first vines in 1983. On the border between Napa and Sonoma, the vineyards sit at 610 metres above sea-level. These cooler sites provide natural elegance and acidity.
The first vintage from the estate was 1987, with just one wine – Mon Plaisir Chardonnay – made by Helen Turley. The range has since grown, and now the estate makes 15 different cuvées. They are all single-site expressions – Cabernet blends, Chardonnay, Pinot Noir and Sauvignon/Semillon blends. More vineyards have also been added to the property – in Fort Ross-Seaview and Oakville.
Today Peter’s son Paul and his wife Emily run the estate. Javier Aviña manages the vineyards, as he has done since 1991, while Robert Fiore is in charge of winemaking. Luc and Nicolas Morlet – who have been involved in the estate for many years – consult. There is such demand for the wines that little finds its way onto the retail market.