Napa’s Next Generation | Mike Anderson MTGA Wines
There’s a new generation of Napa wine makers emerging and while the wines they make do pay a certain amount of hommage to their heritage, they are also blazing a new path and a new name for themselves. One such wine maker is Mike Anderson. I discovered Mike through Instagram and then I gathered information through a series of emails
WWJ: How did you get into wine, what’s the back story?
Mike: I got back into the wine industry sort of haphazardly. Originally I had no desire to get into the wine industry but after graduating college I had a job offer at the tasting room at Raymond Vineyards just outside of St. Helena and since I didn’t have any other job prospects I moved back home to take the offer. After about a year I started taking some more wine-focused courses at the Napa Community College to get some more background on the science and numbers side of winemaking and winegrowing. By this point I had worked a couple harvests and was continuing to work on the hospitality side of things as well. In 2010 I was able to purchase a small amount Merlot, about one ton from just outside St. Helena, to give winemaking a decent shot. I ended up with two barrels and as the aging process went on I was pulling samples for friends and family to try. The questions that came up every time were, “What is the label going to be?” and “How much are you going to sell it for?” At that point I hadn’t even consider that but I got the ball rolling with permits and label design. Come July 2012 I bottled my first vintage, just over 40 cases of 2010 Merlot which I officially released the following February. Within three weeks I was sold out and looking to start gearing MTGA wines up further.
WWJ: Forgive me if I’m mistaken, but are you related to Todd Anderson – Conn Valley Vineyards?
Mike: That is correct. MTGA are my initials officially stands for Michael Todd Gustaf Anderson. The back story is that my dad wanted me to be Todd Jr and my grandfather Gus Jr. However my mother kindly intervened so I was named Michael after an uncle of mine. So the label is a “tip of the cap” to my family but also that story.
WWJ: Did you grow with vineyard life? What kind of work did you do as a kid?
Mike: I did grow up with vineyard life. It was, and still is, very much the family business. Growing up I experienced every aspect of the process from planting vines, harvest and other vineyard work, cellar work, bottling and so on.
WWJ: What did you study in college?
Mike: In college I studied criminal justice and sociology. This focus was largely because It was junior year and I needed to declare something. I didn’t have any real desire to pursue a career in those fields.
WWJ: Why did you decided to get back into the wine business and work at Raymond?
Mike: I started working at Raymond in 2008 between school years and when I was home for long holidays. At that time it was just for some extra cash. When I graduated in 2009 however it was one of the worst job markets on record, I had bills to pay so I was going to take a job wherever I could get one. It just so happened that Raymond offered me a position that I could start in as soon as I got home. From there Raymond Vineyards eventually became a part of Boisset Family Estates and I worked my way into the marketing department. At that point I was enjoying the wine industry thoroughly and was pursuing my own wine project.
WWJ: You make Merlot and Riesling.. which Conn Valley doesn’t make right? Was this a conscious choice? What other varietals are you interested in?
Mike: You are correct, Conn Valley does not make Merlot or Riesling. I chose Merlot largely because there only a handful (if that) of great ones in the valley and I wanted to take on the challenge of convincing folks that Merlot could bring a lot more to the table. Riesling is one of my favorite varietals because of its versatility so when I was able to find a great source from the Sonoma Coast is ended being a perfect fit. As far as other varietals go I do wanted to get some Pinot Noir into the lineup and a Bordeaux style blend which will probably be more Right Bank in style. I have wanted to see what producing a sparkling wine would be like, because I am a sucker for good bubbles, but that is a little further down on the wish list right now.
WWJ: What is your current production?
Mike: As of today I am on the 2011 Merlot vintage; 138 cases were bottled in total. I have also just bottled up 41 cases of a dry Riesling from the Sonoma Coast. I continue to have a day job that keeps me busy during most of the week, MTGA Wines is what keeps me busy on my weekends.
These days you can find Mike managing the Clif Family tasting room, Velo Vino, in St Helena.
Keep an eye out for his wines, if you can find them! Or contact Mike through his website (http://mtgawines.com ) to get on his mailing list.
Follow Mike on Instagram @MTGAWINES
Follow Mike on Twiter @MTGA_Wines