Of the many stories that accompany the founding of Napa Valley wineries, the story of the Peter Michael Winery is one of the most colorful and unexpected. Peter Michael was born in England, where he led several successful technology companies before being knighted in 1989 in recognition of his career in technology and other industries. In the same year he and his wife Maggie founded Peter Michael Winery in Calistoga. From the beginning it was Peter Michael’s mission to produce limited quantities of Chardonnay and a proprietary red that blended Old World winemaking with New World terroir. He has a talent for attracting talent, and some of the best winemakers in the Napa Valley have worked for him, including Helen Turley and Mark Aubert. All Peter Michael’s premier wines are bottled without filtration. There are 112 acres of vines, growing Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc, Pinot Noir, Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Cabernet Franc and Petit Verdot. About 100,000 bottles are produced annually. Winemaker is Nicolas Morlet, a native of Champagne and brother of Luc Morlet, Peter Michael’s former winemaker.
Sonoma Coast AVA runs from San Pablo Bay in the south to Mendocino County in the north. It includes 7,000 vineyard acres and earned AVA status in 1987. Its proximity to the Pacific Ocean means it gets double the rainfall of nearby inland appellations and the ocean gives the appellation a relatively cool climate. Chardonnay and Pinot Noir can thrive in these conditions, and there are numerous producers making critically acclaimed Chardonnay and Pinot Noir.
This red wine is relatively light and can pair with a wide variety of foods. The grape prefers cooler climates and the wine is most often associated with Burgundy, Champagne and the U.S. west coast. Regional differences make it nearly as fickle as it is flexible.