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Robert Young Estate Winery

Matt Michael ~ Winemaker

Meet Our Winemaker:

Matt Michael

A University of California, Davis graduate with a Bachelor of Science in Fermentation Science, Matt began his career working harvests in Oregon, New Zealand and California. Upon returning to Northern California, Matt worked for Quivira as Enologist then Assistant Winemaker, focusing on sustainability and biodynamics. In 2005, he became Assistant Winemaker at Sebastiani Vineyards & Winery in Sonoma where he worked closely with Mark Lyon and oversaw many key production elements. His next venture took him to Wattle Creek in 2009 as head Winemaker crafting small lot luxury wines. At Wattle Creek in Alexander Valley, he worked closely with Estate Cabernet Sauvignon, Malbec, Merlot and Chardonnay—making the move to Robert Young Estate Winery a seamless transition. Matt has now spent the past 12 years working with Alexander Valley fruit where he made many award winning wines. His diverse experience and skills complement our winery's portfolio.



Hand harvesting


Robert Young Estate Winery selects the finest fruit from small single block vineyards the family farms to produce primarily Chardonnay and Cabernet Suavignon as well as the other classic red bordeaux varietals such as Cabernet Franc, Malbec, Merlot and Petit Verdot.  We will be introducing a single block Sauvignon Blanc from the 2017 vintage sometime in the spring of 2018.  Our winemaking is focued on small lot winemaking approach, which focuses on minimal intervention and focuses on extration of flavor and tanniin managment. 

Chardonnays are made predominantly from the Robert Young clone #17, a vine developed at the Robert Young family vineyard and acknowledged as one of the most distinctive Chardonnay vines in the world. The grapes are 100% hand picked with the winemaking process varying between the three distinct Chardonnay bottlings.  Our Alexander Valley Chardonnay is our most poplular and goes through primary and full malolactic fermentations in French oak barrels and is aged sur lies (on the sediments) in the same barrel for 10 months. The wine is racked off the lies, returned to the barrel and then aged an additional four months in caves behind the winery. The wine generally has intense aromas and flavors of tropical fruit, toasty oak from the barrels, and a mouth-filling finish. Approximately 2,000-3,000 cases of this wine are made each year.

Cave barrel storage
Cabernet Sauvignon is perhaps what the Alexander Valley is best known for and we make three distinct bottlings of the varietal. Scion is our most popular and comes from a word that refers to the fruiting portion of a vine that is attached to the rootstock in grafting. Scion also refers to a descendant or child. Both meanings have application to Robert Young Estate Winery Scion wine. Robert Young was the first grower to plant Cabernet Sauvignon in Alexander Valley, and his family has fashioned their winery to feature this grape blended with other Bordelaise varietals taken from the steep hillsides of the ranch. The wine is made in small batches in closed tanks, is regularly pumped over the grape skins during fermentation to extract flavor and color, and then it is put into the caves behind the winery to age for two years. Cabernet Sauvignon has grown to be the grape variety for which Alexander Valley is known best (thanks in large part to Robert Young himself). Scion is the benchmark wine at Robert Young Estate Winery. Approximately 1,000 - 1,500 cases of this wine are made each year.

Planting the other four core Bordeaux red varietals on the farm in the mid 80's was an easy decision, as Alexander Valley has similar growing conditions to that of the Bordeaux region of westen France.  We have small vineyard blocks of Cabernet Franc, Malbec, Merlot, Petit Verdot on the estate situated in well-drained soils in the hills on the western side of the ranch where the Mayacamas Mountains divide Napa Valley from Alexander Valley. This part of the valley is exceptional for Bordeaux red varietals, where the days are warm, the nights cool and the crop small. Good exposure to the south, south-east provides the fruit ample sunlight to help ripen the grapes and darken their skins. All these wines are made into small batches in closed tanks, are regularly pumped over the grape skins during fermentation to extract flavor and color, and aged in french oak barrels for up to two years.  

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