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Michael Pozzan Wines - Napa Valley


Marianna Cabernet (Meritage) remains a veritable bargain

We didn’t think it could get any better. But when winery owner Michael Pozzan called to tell us about a special wine he was finishing that he felt was the best wine of his career, we were all ears. “You have to try this,” he told us, “it’s an incredible wine.” Sure enough, it is a beautiful wine. And at 400 cases production, a truly rare wine at that.

“He’s one of the best. I don’t know how he does it,” the late nationally known wine-critic and columnist, Jerry Mead said to us earlier last year. Jerry was speaking about Michael Pozzan who had just won two New World International Trophies for the best Cabernet Sauvignon and the best Sangiovese. He also picked up a Gold Medal for his Shiraz and medals for his Chardonnay and Merlot. An incredible achievement for a relatively young and unknown winery.

“I basically turned a hobby into a profession,” says Michael Pozzan when asked how he started his winery. “I toyed with the idea for a long time,” says Michael. “The more I learned about wines, the more intrigued I became—until the proverbial wine-bug bit me.” Michael and his wife, Mary Ann owned a deli and catering company in the San Francisco Bay area at the time. In 1990, they sold the business and Michael went to work as a sales rep for a local winery. “I soon realized though that if I was going to be happy in the wine business, I needed to do something on my own,” Michael recalls.

By that time, wine was more than a hobby to Michael—he was immersed in the business. Working as a winery rep allowed Michael to establish the necessary connections within the wine industry. He used those connections to buy juice to begin crafting his own wines. In 1991 he produced 500 cases of Cabernet Sauvignon and Chardonnay, under the Deer Springs label. Five hundred cases may not seem like a lot of wine, but when the only way to sell it is to literally knock on doors it’s a huge amount.

Somewhat to his surprise the wine was a big success, and the wine shops and restaurants in the San Francisco Bay area had no trouble swallowing the entire batch. “Fortunately the quality was good and the price was right,” recounts Michael. After this successful debut, Michael knew he had something he could build upon.

Michael tripled the Deer Springs output the following year to 1,500 cases. Then by chance, a wine writer for the local newspaper bought the wines in a local store and wrote a favorable review in his column. The wine gods must have been smiling because Michael promptly got a call from a big chain store that bought virtually all the wine he had available.

With a big boost in sales and confidence, Michael catapulted to 7,000 cases in 1994. He outgrew the tiny space he was leasing from Gerard Winery and landed at St. Supery Winery. At St. Supery they not only provided him more room but also catered to his operation by providing additional winemaking and bottling expertise.

By now, Michael knew his way around the block and was poised and ready for the next step. “My wife was the one who suggested I make a higher end wine and put my name on it,” recalls Michael. Production was up to 12,000 cases and it was getting tougher to buy ready-finished wine, so it made sense at that point to buy his own grapes and make his own wine. So why not make the best wine he could and put his own name on it?

In 1995, Michael enlisted the help of Bob Broman who was the winemaker at St. Supery, and the two sourced top quality grapes for their first vintage of ultra-premium wines. They secured enough grapes to craft 1,000 cases of Cabernet Sauvignon and Chardonnay—and the Michael Pozzan line of wines was born.

Michael Pozzan wines have earned solid marks from day one. Proof of that is the multiple Gold and Silver medals won each year at the wine industry fairs and high ratings by the national reviewers. Michael added Sangiovese and Merlot to the line a couple of years ago but intends for production to remain relatively low. “We’re probably going to stay around 15,000 cases with the Michael Pozzan wines,” he predicts.



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