Sep. 302015

Vintner Spotlight: Emily and Paul Michael of Peter Michael Winery

Please join us in welcoming this wine couple back to the 2016 Naples Winter Wine Festival!

The Peter Michael Winery resides in the Northeast corner of Sonoma County and was established in 1982. One of the most decorated wineries in the state of California, the vineyard was a lifelong vision of Sir Peter Michael and his “100 by 100 plan,” which strives for 100% family ownership for at least 100 years. The generational passing of the winery baton has been handed to Paul Michael and his wife Emily. The Michaels are proud to offer their wines and services to the 2016 Naples Winter Wine Festival for the third time Emily and Paul Michael put philanthropic events and giving back at the top of their priority list. We recently spoke with the Michaels, who bring vision, passion and a deep love of family to their wine business. Read on to discover what else they shared with us.

What was your first job in your industry?
PM: My industry is the hospitality industry because it covers many of the things we do as a family, including at the winery, once the wine is in the bottle. My first exposure to the industry was during the summer when I was 16 or 17 years old. I worked in the kitchen of an English gastropub called The Dundas Arms in Kintbury, UK. The owner loved his wines, so for a pub it had an excellent wine list. I went on to work at Hôtel Ritz Paris before going to the Ecole Hôtelière de Lausanne.

EM: I thoroughly enjoyed nearly five years of event management when I was in my 20s. It’s given me a fantastic basis for the Michael family industry. I worked with the crew, charities, artists and even royalty, including all walks of life, on and off stage, healthy and sick. I feel very privileged to have had this experience.

How long have you participated in the Naples Winter Wine Festival? Do you have a favorite moment from these past years?
EM & PM: We’ve participated for years. Our favorite moment was going to one of the charities that benefits and seeing firsthand how the money raised truly helps the children’s lives. We’re looking forward to seeing more of the Naples Winter Wine Festival work when we are there in January.

If you could share a bottle of wine with one person, dead or alive, who would it be and why?
PM: Winston Churchill. I love history and he died in the year I was born. His ideas and actions allowed my generation to enjoy peace in Europe for 70 years. In 1924 he wrote a letter to his wife, Clementine, assuring her that he drank “champagne at all meals and buckets of claret and soda in between.” He said that a glass lifts the spirits and sharpens the wits but “a bottle produces the opposite effects.” I would share a bottle of champagne and he could share some much-needed pearls of wisdom for us in 2015. Then again, I wonder what he would make of a bottle of Les Pavots minus the soda?

EM: The famous widow Madame Clicquot. An extraordinary entrepreneur of the 19th Century, she had a business outlook more akin to the 21st Century with an emphasis on commerce and freedom of the individual. Would champagne have ever become as famous without her?

What is your proudest accomplishment in business and in your personal life?
PM: Personally, my biggest accomplishment is my family and three kids who are all happy and achieving things in their own lives. Professionally, I’m most proud of my work in the family business—including the winery for more than 20 years.

EM: Personally, it’s my family. Professionally, as I mentioned earlier, my experience in charity events for Princess Diana introduced me to so many people, in so many walks of life. I would be very proud if I could say that I’ve learned the art of being with anybody. Princess Diana had a magical gift of “giving to all” of whom she met.

What is your preference, wine with food or wine on its own?
EM: To me, there is nothing like being handed that first glass of wine and wholly savoring it before entertaining. My preference would be wine with friends, not wine totally on its own!

PM: Wine and food are just such natural partners, keeping each other in balance, bringing out the best in each other. Together they help digestion, and facilitate the flow of conversation and social interactions that we thrive on as humans. Food and wine complete each other and that is why we call it a marriage. It is as if they were made for each other from the outset and I cannot think of a better match, one for the other.

What is your favorite thing to do in Naples, Florida?
EM: Most definitely, it’s an early morning beach walk.

PM: A long morning run along the beach, a walk back the other way with Emily and then a tasty lunch and glass of wine in one of the great restaurants. Bleu Provence or Sea Salt come to mind as the two I have visited so far.

What’s your go-to wine, and what dish do you pair with it?
PM: Ma Belle-Fille of course! My Father named Ma Belle-Fille, or “my daughter in-law” in honor of my wife Emily and to this day it is our favorite. On its own or paired with a great fish dish, it is a multi-layered, complex style that lends itself to countless pairings.

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