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Michael Pozzan Winery - Napa Valley


Pozzan Wines offer impressive quality at astonishing value

The Michael Pozzan Winery that exists today is a business that was certainly born out of need; a vehicle many industry experts agree was also craftily conceived. And, most importantly, the winery was eventually taken to the hearts of both critics and consumers, not necessarily in that order.

The first Michael Pozzan reserve wines actually reached the general public in mid-1995, when owner Michael Pozzan, 46, and his wife Mary Ann, 43, released their first wines. Michael Pozzan Winery initially produced a thousand cases each of Cabernet Sauvignon and Chardonnay, made mostly from grapes sourced in both Napa and Sonoma counties in Northern California.

The winery had actually had its beginnings almost three years earlier when Pozzan began his business as a negociant under the Deer Springs label. The business progressed slowly until it reached around 3,000 cases and Pozzan decided on a slightly different direction for his fledgling enterprise.

Pozzan related that when he first began, he sold his first wines by hand out of his car to restaurants and small wine stores that he had known from his days as a winery representative for a Santa Clara winery. That particular form of selling was very laborious and Pozzan feels he was extremely lucky to have even survived.

“Some very nice people in the restaurant world took to our wines and a few wine stores gave me the chance to stay in business,” he explained. “At that time I did business mostly in the East Bay, in smaller places that I knew well. At that point, there were no reviews, and practically no one who really knew about my wines.”

After three years, a decision was made to produce the wines under the Michael Pozzan Reserve label and a strategic alliance was made with the successful Girard Winery of Napa Valley. Girard would house and also produce the new Michael Pozzan brand. The elevated volume of cases also allowed the winery to send its wines for review, a fact that netted Michael Pozzan Reserve wines a great deal of critical acclaim. Bolstered by this added momentum, the small winery was able to secure a strategic foothold among Napa Valley’s many prestigious wineries.

Michael Pozzan Winery is proud of the fact that it buys grapes from a number of sources. In the exact words of Michael Pozzan, “I am prepared to buy my grapes from anyone who continually grows excellent, ripened fruit.”

Several years passed and the winery continued to grow and prosper. Pozzan’s operations were next moved to Rutherford’s St. Supery Winery and finally to one of Napa’s premier winemaking facilities, a place that could easily handle the winery’s continued growth. Michael Pozzan Winery’s new home was within Oakville’s Napa Wine Company, which now serves as the production facility for Michael Pozzan Winery. The fresh association delights Pozzan who also credits his new winemaker, John McKay, a multi-year Napa veteran of such wineries as Vichon and others, with the sustained improvement of quality within his winery.

Current production levels for all wines have reached upwards of 50,000 cases, but Pozzan sees another 10 - 15% growth ahead as still plausible. “As long as I can source from growers who grow really good grapes and we can continue to produce top level wines, I can see some additional growth,” he related. “But we are getting close to our limits.”

All this has been accomplished with but three full time employees. The Pozzans’ sons, Danny, 19, and Matthew, 17, work part time and summers and have both indicated an interest in working for the winery on a permanent basis. Danny is already enrolled in Cal Poly’s Business/Agriculture program while Matthew is weighing several choices for college.

Michael Pozzan Winery has exceeded its founder’s wildest expectations and could easily serve as the perfect role model for both the small business entrepreneur and the most dedicated wine enthusiast. The business shows what a few dedicated individuals with limited resources can do with a directed business plan and a keen sense of practicality.

We expect to see more Michael Pozzan wines in the future at Gold Medal Wine Club and will happily share them with you when they become available. We heartily support small success stories and this one is truly hard to beat.



Michael and Mary Ann Pozzan

Michael Pozzan can twice thank his wife Mary Ann for suggesting noteworthy paths that have deeply influenced his career in the wine business.

‘The first time Mary Ann really helped me.” Pozzan recently recalled, ‘was back in 1991. The circumstances were almost critical and her advice came at a time in my life when I really needed help.”

Pozzan noted that at the time he was out of work as a winery representative, deeply distressed and unsure of his options. Mary Ann Pozzan suggested he try working for himself as his own winery and Pozzan wisely took her advice.

He had started six years earlier as a deli owner within his father in law’s grocery business and had been severely bitten by the wine bug. What began with the reading of a magazine article on an Italian wine (he purchased a bottle of the featured wine the following day) soon became an involvement with wine that included research, travel and a number of viticultural pursuits.

When his father in law sold the grocery business, Michael Pozzan found a job with a small distributor in the East Bay section of Northern California. For two years he plied his trade until a position with the Emilio Guillermo Winery opened up in Santa Clara County. Pozzan prospered until the winery decided some eighteen months later to eliminate a sales position. As the last hire of the small company, Pozzan once again found himself without a position in the industry he loved.

‘That was when Mary Ann urged me to do it myself,” he continued. ‘I went ahead and contacted an attorney who provided a shell for the corporation and helped me to secure a license. Pozzan used his last $2,000 to start the project and began searching for wines that individual wineries were willing to part with. The search seemed endless until he found some sympathetic wineries that would sell small portions of their inventory to him. Pozzan then leased some space in Napa and began the formidable task of building a business from scratch.

Since the very beginning, Pozzan has followed his family’s ethnic heritage (his family was from Piedmonte, his wife’s was from Tuscany) and background, as he gradually saw his dream become a reality within the competitive wine industry. Michael and Mary Ann still travel regularly to Italy where they find new ideas and innovative ways to popularize their wines.

Mary Ann’s Pozzan’s second fortuitous piece of advice came four years later in 1995, when she urged her husband to name the winery after himself. Michael pondered her suggestion and ultimately agreed to the name change. The new brand, Michael Pozzan Reserve, was immediately accepted and widely acclaimed. From such simple beginnings, Michael Pozzan and his wines soon emerged as a viable entity in the wine industry.

Today, Michael Pozzan continues to consider himself a lover of food and wine first and foremost, and also a fortunate individual who has been provided the means of helping increase the general public’s appreciation and knowledge of wine. Pozzan now produces a well-respected Sangiovese that resulted from one of his ‘tourist” trips to Italy.

But if you happen to ask him, Pozzan’s single most source of pride is a solitary wine that is only made in years when he can find what he calls the ‘really choicest” of grapes.

The wine is called Mariana in honor of his beloved wife to whom he owes so much.

‘Mariana is a Bordeaux blend (some call it a Meritage) that includes Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Cabernet Franc and Petit Verdot,” he explained with great delight. ‘It is only produced from exceptional vintages, literally what I consider to be the very best of the best. We only make 200-300 cases and every bottle is hand dipped in wax as a final statement. And you can see who I named the wine for.”

It is easy to understand Michael Pozzan’s undying enthusiasm for both the wine and the wine’s namesake. His entire career in the wine industry has been an uphill battle, a battle that he has definitely won.

It is also nice to remember that our Platinum Series club has already featured Mariana some time ago.

It is, in a sense, a tribute to both Michael and Mary Ann Pozzan.

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