In 1975, British entrepreneur Sir Peter Michael was served Chateau Montelena Chardonnay at the Fairmont Hotel, San Francisco. Peter was so stirred by this experience of great California terroir that he set out on a property search for his own piece of Napa paradise. In 1982 he discovers and purchases the Sugarloaf Ranch on the western face of Mt. St. Helena, in the little-known Knights Valley, where he plants his first vines.
From the beginning, Sir Peter’s vision was modelled on French winemaking traditions: “I wanted to make wines following the classic, artisanal traditions of Burgundy and Bordeaux. The first time I stood on the steep, rocky slopes of Mount St. Helena, I knew we had found the place to do it.” – Sir Peter Michael
Now under the ownership of Peter’s son, Paul, the commitment to the development of a great estate continues, creating outstanding, elegant, terroir-driven wines year-after-year.
Viticulture philosophy is based on low-input sustainable agriculture, using hand-farming techniques that include organic and biodynamic practices. With a total respect for the unique terroir of the land, Javier Aviña has managed the vineyards at Peter Michael Winery since 1991, using minimally invasive methods that care and protect for the soil, water, and wildlife.
Today, Peter Michael make fifteen wines in four varietal categories, all crafted by hand in limited production volumes. The founding vision of terroir-driven wines in the classic European style is still alive under the direction of the winery’s chief winemaker, Robert Fiore, who uses time-honoured methods such as French oak barrels, battônage native yeasts, and hand sorting of grapes to create something truly special in the hills of Napa.