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In 1982, after an extensive, seven-year search for California property to serve as both family retreat and vineyard, Sir Peter Michael purchased 605 acres of volcanic ridges on the western face of Mount St. Helena in Knights Valley. For the entrepreneurial founder of Quantel and frequent visitor to Northern California, it was love at first sight.


In 1983, with the help of his wife, Lady Michael, they established Peter Michael Winery and planted red Bordeaux varietals in the volcanic soils at the site. Four years later the Winery hired Helen Turley to make the first wine, the 1987 Mon Plaisir Chardonnay, produced from fruit grown at the nearby Gauer Estate (now Alexander Mountain Estate) in the Alexander Valley. The wine was followed a year later by their first Cuvée Indigène Chardonnay, a barrel selection of wine fermented with indigenous yeast.


Over the years the Winery expanded the plantings of red Bordeaux varietals on the lower, warmer sites and Chardonnay on the higher, cooler portions of the estate. To take full advantage of their unique conditions, each block was delineated and developed based upon the intricate puzzle of terroir. Soils, microclimates, topography and exposures were all considered in the selection of varieties, rootstocks, row orientation, vine spacing and drainage. In addition to the vines, the family also ensured the long-term natural balance of the estate by restoring native habitats and extensively reforesting with native species trees.


In 1998, the Winery purchased the 400-acre Seaview property located on the true Sonoma Coast. This amazing site possesses the best attributes of both coastal and mountain sites. While the climate is quite cool throughout the growing season, its location above the fog line provides enough sunlight to fully ripen the fruit. Seaview was planted to Pinot Noir in 2006 and 2007. In 2009, the winery also purchased a 41-acre parcel on a raised plateau overlooking the east side of Napa’s Oakville appellation with 26 planted acres of red Bordeaux varietals.


Some of the most illustrious names in the industry have served as Peter Michael Winery's winemaker including: Helen Turley, Mark Aubert, Vanessa Wong, Luc Morlet, and current winemaker Nicolas Morlet. Throughout its history, the winery has continued to reflect Sir Peter’s founding credo of “mountain vineyards, classical winemaking, limited production.” In keeping with Sir Peter’s “100 by 100 plan” – 100% family ownership for at least 100 years – there has been a generational passing of the baton at the estate. Over the past few years, son Paul Michael and his wife Emily have assumed increasing responsibility in the strategic direction of the winery.

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Under the direction of vineyard manager Javier Aviña, our estate vineyards are farmed by hand in a low-impact, sustainable manner, relying heavily on organic techniques that include some biodynamic practices. Cover crops control erosion, feed the soil and provide a habitat for beneficial insects; eliminating the need for chemical pesticides. Tilling, spraying and mowing are accomplished with tractors. All other operations are done entirely by hand. These include: pruning, suckering, shoot positioning, hedging, crop thinning and harvest. All harvesting is done into 20-pound fruit lugs to insure that the fruit arrives at the winery in pristine condition.

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Under the direction of winemaker Nicolas Morlet, all Peter Michael wines are made using a non-interventionist, neo-classical approach. This relies on traditional, hands-on winemaking methods blended with the best of modern technology. With few exceptions, the wines are not fined or filtered. Traditional winemaking techniques such as French oak aging, a weekly “bâtonnage” (stirring while in barrel) and native fermentations are supplemented by new traditions like the hand sorting system we designed to ensure that only perfect berries make it into the wine press.


The wines are never acidulated and feature the bright natural acidity produced by our cool climate vineyard locations. All wines are gently fermented using only indigenous yeasts. Similarly, malolactic fermentation is accomplished with indigenous cultures. White fruit is hand sorted at the whole cluster level before gentle pressing. Red fruit is sorted three times, first by hand at the cluster level. The fruit is then destemmed and sorted twice more. Once by a special sorting device, "Le Trieur", developed in part here at Peter Michael, and finally by hand again at the individual berry level. Red wines undergo alcoholic fermention in tanks before being transferred to barrels for malolactic fermentation and aging. Only French oak barrels from the finest coopers are used.

White wines are barrel fermented and aged on the lees with generous use of bâtonnage: stirring in the barrel. Frothing barrel and Vineyard photos by Olaf Beckman Grape processing photos by MJ Wickham.

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Inside information

In 1982, after six years of searching for land to serve as both vineyard and family retreat, Sir Peter Michael and Lady Michael purchased 630 acres of volcanic ridges on the western face of Mount St. Helena in Knights Valley. Following Sir Peter’s 100 by 100 vision – 100% family ownership for at least 100 years – and drawing inspiration from the great wineries of Burgundy and Bordeaux, the family hired like-minded viticulturists and winemakers to help them create terroir-driven wines that would stand the test of time. Today, with the support of son, Paul, and his wife Emily, the Peter Michael winery still adheres to its original founding principles of “mountain vineyards, classical winemaking, and limited production.”

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12 different wines with 27 vintages


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Wine Moments

Here you can see wine moments from tastingbook users.    or    to see wine moments from your world.

 Pekka Nuikki / Founder of the Fine Wine Magazines, Pro (Finland)  tasted  1 wines  from  Peter Michael Winery . In a tasting of  31 wines 

The Finnish summer has not started yet - the sea is still cold (+14c) and it's raining every second day - but the colder the weather is, the better is the taste:)

Here are some summer wines I have tried between the showers.

2m 9d ago

 Michel Jamais, Wine Writer (Sweden)  tasted  7 wines  from  Peter Michael Winery . In a tasting of  7 wines 

Pinot Noir is just a small part of the Peter Michael Winery portfolio. Of their on average 14 000 cases annual production the pinots counts for only 500 to 700 cases. Yet, the two pinot wines stands for almost 90 percent of the request, reports the sales manager of Peter Michael Winery.
Peter Michael Winery is famous for their great chardonnays as well as the rich Bordeaux blend Les Pavots, and besides a tiny fraction of the latter and the grapes for the chardonnay Mon Plaisir, that are bought from Jess Jacksons vineyards, the grapes are estate grown on the upper slopes in Knights Valley. Then, there are two pinots, since 1997 the Le Moulin Rouge from grapes bought from the famous Pisoni Vineyard in Santa Lucia Highlands and now also a new pinot bought from a highly reputed vineyard in the cool Sonoma Coast.
This is the inaugural vintage of Peter Michael Winery from their new lease of a part of the famous Reuling Vineyard near Forestville, only 25 kilometers from the ocean in the cooler part of Russian River that belongs to Sonoma Coast appellation.

5m 24d ago

 Achim Becker / Wineterminator.com, Wine Writer (Germany)  tasted  1 wines  from  Peter Michael Winery . In a tasting of  24 wines 

Amazing Magnum-tasting with quite a few 100 points wines like Latour 1982, Mouton 1982, Haut Brion 1989, Martha's Vineyard's 1975...

8m 12d ago

 Michel Jamais, Wine Writer (Sweden)  tasted  1 wines  from  Peter Michael Winery . In a tasting of  15 wines 

“Darioush Winery is one of the most spectacular wineries in Napa Valley. You just can’t miss it when driving on Silverado Trail in the southern part of the valley. Its pillars, copied from the famous Persian palace Persepolis from 500 BC, are dazzling white in the sunshine, and reveals either insanity, or heritage. In this case, you have to settle for heritage, bcause that what is is. Founder Darioush Khaledi was born in the town of Shiraz in what way back in time was known to be Persia, but had to leave his homeland in 1976. Los Angeles became his new home, and together his nephew he started a market to make a living. Two decades later this market had turned into a huge business (KW Mart) with 20 supermarkets and more than 1 500 employees!
His passion for fine wines nourished as his fortune grew, and instead of looking for a château in Bordeaux (which was his initial plan), he found a vineyard in Napa Valley that he bought in 1997. There was no winery at that time – the ground for it was broken the year after, and believe it or not, all stones were brought back from his homeland, Iran. That’s dedication and pride. Like it or not. I do like it.
Steve Devitt was appointed as winemaker, and that was a smart move. If someone knew about the terroir in this corner of Napa Valley, it was Steve. He worked in Napa Valley since mid 80s, and was at the winemaker at neighbor winery Signorello until he came over to Darioush. Production today has reached more than 10 000 cases, of which the cabernet wine is the by far most important.”

1y 4m ago

 Jason Lee / Sommelier, Pro (China)  tasted  1 wines  from  Peter Michael Winery . In a tasting of  18 wines 

“Interesting tasting - we had around 20 wines from WS TOP 100 /2014 and the result were quite different than in the WS ranking -best for us was Fonseca Vintage Port 2011 : Deep, youthful , purple and bright colour. Youthful, refined, opulent and seductive on the nose. The taste is fragrant, focused, well-structured, good texture, concentrated and promising. Long, extensive, pure, a bit spicy and vibrant aftertaste. Well made and already impressive. Decanted over 4h and at best between 2030 and 2050. Costs about 100-200€ per bottle. 95 points”

1y 11m ago

 Jason Lee / Sommelier, Pro (China)  tasted  2 wines  from  Peter Michael Winery . In a tasting of  26 wines 

“Dominus 2012 is the best Dominus I have ever had!”

2y 3m ago

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Scotchmans Hill Chardonnay 2015, Scotchmans Hill
Signorello Estate Padrone Cabernet Sauvignon 2013, Signorello Vineyards
Cheval Blanc 2010, Château Cheval Blanc