Learn the Love Stories of Naked Wines Winemakers This Valentine’s Day

Love stories rule the wine world<p>Courtesy of Unsplash | Photo by Matt Nelson</p>
Love stories rule the wine world

Courtesy of Unsplash | Photo by Matt Nelson

We all love a love story. The story of how couples meet, their origin story, is best told over a glass of wine. It's just a fact. So this Valentine's Day whether you have a valentine of your own or not, celebrate the stories that brought these love stories together and if you're lucky enough to track down their wines, see if it makes them taste better.

<p>Courtesy of Naked Wines</p><p>When there are two winemakers in the house it is inevitable you talk shop - and that is exactly what happened to Katy and Justin Michaud. Though they've each had incredibly successful careers individually, they have talked and dreamed about making wine together for over a decade... "while making dinner, while watching our kid's games, coffee in the morning, it's all fair game," says Justin.</p><p>Katy was first introduced to the Naked Wines Angel community in 2014, when she became an independent winemaker for the first time - after years working at Washington's top wineries, including Canoe Ridge and Kim Crawford. As Katy was developing her incredibly popular Washington Rieslings and Cabernets for Angels, Justin was winning gold medals in rapid succession for a small Washington wine estate brand - Coyote Canyon.</p><p>Thanks to Angels, these two are combining forces - and are looking forward to building on Katy's incredibly popular Michaud brand. They have a lot of big plans up their sleeve – and plenty of new Washington wines for you to enjoy.</p><p>"<em>We're excited to bring our individual styles together under our Michaud family brand and can't wait to see what this new venture has in store for us, and the amazing Nakedwines.com Angels who made it possible</em>," Katy explains, adding, "<em>two heads are better than one. I am going to say creative differences will come up and that mostly, I am right</em>."</p>
<p>Courtesy of Naked Wines</p><p>Megan and Ryan both found their love for winemaking through food. Megan’s father was a successful chef, and she started considering a degree in enology when she was fifteen while serving at her family restaurant. Armed with the insight that only discovering your passion at a ridiculously young age will give you, she found an enology program at the University of Adelaide. To her mother’s dismay, she wanted to study winemaking on the other side of the world.</p><p>“<em>When I found Adelaide, my dad was super supportive. My mom was hesitant because she was certain I would fall in love with someone in Australia and never come back, so her condition was ‘do NOT fall in love!’ But I did</em>.”</p><p>Ryan’s love of food was unique in his family. He sought out hole-in-the-wall restaurants and unique flavors whenever he was allowed to choose, which was usually a birthday dinner. While pursuing a degree in medical bioengineering, he found part time jobs in restaurants. It only took a short while for him to become enamored with the science of wine and beer. He transferred to Fresno State and graduated with a degree in enology and a desire to travel the world, and he knew just where to start.</p><p>After Ryan’s graduation and prior to Megan’s senior thesis, both landed harvest jobs at the fashionable Torbreck winery in Australia's Barossa Valley. In Torbreck’s cellar, they made Rhône-inspired wines and plans to see the world together, by hopping hemispheres to work two harvests a year. It was the romantic flying winemaker life that both had dreamed of while cramming for chemistry and geography tests in school. While waiting for Megan to finish her senior thesis, Ryan went back to California to spend a season working with Manfred Krankl of Sine Qua Non. Joining the team was a rare opportunity to help craft the most creative and sought-after wines in the state.</p><p>A year later, they met in Sonoma County and continued working with Rhône varieties. Megan found a spot at Peay, and Ryan worked down the road at PAX. The pair was excited to kick off their world winemaking tour with something close to home, focusing on varieties that piqued their interest, and operating at a scale that was hyper-focused on quality. Everything was going according to plan, except Megan and Ryan were both offered full-time positions with Peay and PAX, cut their travel plans short, and began plans for their own wine brand.</p><p>In 2007, for the inaugural vintage of RYME Cellars, the Glaabs made fifty cases of Aglianico—a dense rarely planted outside of Southern Italy. Megan and Ryan focused on small lots of obscure Italian grapes as their brand and reputation grew. Their portfolio soon contained two Vermentinos, Ribolla Gialla, Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, Aglianico, Chardonnay, and Pinot noir.</p><p>Business was going great but then COVID hit, and their tasting room had to shut its doors, brutally impacting sales. Through a friend, they found the COVID Relief Fund. After working with Naked Wines to keep RYME operating smoothly, they wanted to keep the relationship going. With Angel support, Megan and Ryan were able to start an additional brand, Verse, and continue exploring the vineyards of Northern California.</p>
<p>Courtesy of Naked Wines</p><p>Many small-scale California winemakers claim that their wines are born from a marriage of Old World and New World techniques, suggesting a desirable blend of technology and restraint, of trusting science but believing in (sorry) the poetry of winemaking. Most winemakers making this claim say it because, let us be honest, it sounds nice (even if most of us do not know what it means.) Michael and Anne Dashe, on the other hand, say it because it is true. It’s one of the truest things you can say about their wines because Anne has a degree in Enology from the Old World (The University of Bordeaux), Michael has a master’s degree from the New World (UC Davis, in California), they got married, and then promptly started a winery and made amazing wines as a team.</p><p>But what does that marriage of technique really mean to the Dashes from a winemaking perspective?</p><p>"<em>When we started out, we decided to make wines as 'old school' as possible without using additives or specialized industrial winemaking techniques. Instead, we used classic old-world techniques such as fermenting using the native yeasts brought in on the grapes (instead of added yeasts) and using no additives other than SO2. We always strive to make wines with balance and complexity, without being high in alcohol. We are proud to make wines with great texture and mouthfeel, bringing an 'Old World' style to the beautiful fruit that we can work with in California</em>." </p><p>Michael and Anne may perfectly complement each other now, but their paths to winemaking were quite different. Michael started his journey into fermentation when he started helping part-time at a local Santa Cruz winery while studying plant biology as an undergraduate. He approached winemaking using his biology and botany background, excited to get his hands dirty. On the other hand, Anne took up a degree in enology after switching from her pharmacy studies (and her one-time dream of making perfumes) as an undergrad. When making wines, a practice that benefits from both mindsets, they love to find a balance between science and art.</p><p>The pair opened their own winery in 1996, which operates out of an old Naval Base in Alameda and overlooks the San Francisco skyline. Pretty idyllic, huh? Since their first harvest there, they have focused on low intervention winemaking. To them, if the right attention is given to the fruit in the vineyard, the winemaker only needs to gently guide the fermentation along its natural path, with minimal manipulation in the cellar. They are proud believers in natural fermentation, meaning they do not add any cultured yeast to aid the fermentation, and their wines see very little new oak, which lets the true flavors of fruit shine through in each one of their bottles. Stylistically, they love picking their fruit a little earlier and working in cooler climates, which makes them popular with chefs and foodies. Preserving acidity allows their wines to stand up to even the most decadent of dishes!</p><p>"<em>We loved the concept of Naked Wines, of getting such close contact with the Angels and making wine just for this specific group of people. It allows us to establish a dialog with the people drinking our wine, which is one of the most fun parts of making wine. It is so liberating to concentrate just on making wine — and only on making wine — instead of all of the business aspects of a winery</em>!"</p><p>The Dashes were in a tight spot during COVID, and realized they needed to expand into DTC (direct to consumer) sales if their business were going to survive in a world where restaurants and tasting rooms could close for months without warning. Sadly, in the wine world, shipping directly to consumers means dealing with a “three tier system that’s basically rocket science.” Enter, Naked Wines! With the help of Angel funding, Mike and Anne can produce Zinfandels in a style that is true to their roots and share it with customers across the country.</p>

Learn more about these winemakers and their wines at nakedwines.com