I was born and raised in the Napa Valley after my parents and grandparents had moved to St. Helena to get into the wine industry in the early 1980s. It was a fantastic place to grow up, but as with many small towns, it became far too small after 18 years, so it was time for a change of scenery.
I found myself in Spokane, Washington to attend Gonzaga University. I had the opportunity to thoroughly enjoy NCAA basketball, learn why rowing is one of the most grueling sports in the world, and receive a degree in Criminal Justice and Sociology. I fell in love with the Pacific Northwest, but after tripping and falling into the wine industry back home, I was hooked once again to the small town feel. A couple of years later, still working in tasting rooms, cellars, wine marketing, and studying winemaking, I decided it was time to create my own wine project.
MTGA Wines was born as a small, craft line of wines, each dedicated to a single initial (M, T, G. and A), relating not only to the name tied to each initial, but a particular varietal. The style of these wines is all about flavor, structure, and approachability. This project began in 2010 with a small harvest from vineyards located in the St. Helena and Rutherford areas of Napa, which aged for 21 months before bottling. This inaugural release, the 2010 Napa Valley Merlot, is 100% Merlot with just 43 cases produced and scheduled to be released this week at a price of $42 per bottle.
My passion for winemaking didn’t necessarily come from my parents and grandparents, though the thought of continuing the family tradition is something that is very encouraging and has become a driving force. Instead, it came from diving back into the Napa wine industry in every way possible. I remember literally waking up one day and going to work and having it dawn on me that I wanted to take my own shot. This was partially due to actually enjoying my work, but also the fact that when I start talking wine, you generally can’t get me to shut up. After the 2010 harvest and a year and a half of planning and development, I finally felt like MTGA Wines was ready for launch. Therefore, here I am today.
Editor’s Note: On Sunday, September 2, I had the honor and pleasure of meeting Mike in person and hearing his story. First and foremost, he is a winemaker, but he is also a smart businessman and a creative thinker when it comes to growing his business. He told me he had put his heart and soul into this wine, and when I saw the commitment and passion in his eyes, I knew that I was witnessing a winemaker’s dream come true. There’s nothing more satisfying to me than bearing witness to the beginning of a long and successful career.
To order wine from Mike’s inaugural release, please contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org or 707-337-9168. Mike is available for weekend tastings by appointment. You may also follow Mike’s wine journey by way of his personal Facebook page.