“The Wine House is our opportunity to share with the residents of Fairfax what we enjoy in an approachable style to wine service complimented by small pan, hand crafted food.”
Michael was born into a 7,000 acre hill country farming family in New Zealand that taught him the value of hard work and appreciation for the fruits of labor from the land. These values transferred into a deep passion for the vineyard along with a vision to succeed in business and all that he embarks upon.
His wine career launched itself 15 years ago in his hometown of Wanganui, New Zealand. Michael opened his first restaurant with his business partner of the same name, cleverly entitled, “Michaels’”. It was one of the first fine dining establishments to host wine maker dinners featuring some of New Zealand’s top wine makers over a set tasting menu.
With a desire to see the world, Michael left New Zealand to explore Europe and develop his appreciation for gastronomy and oenology in its roots. The conduit that catapulted him into that world was Seabourn Cruise Line. Michael served with Seabourn as their Senior Sommelier before becoming their Bar & Public Rooms Manager where he designed and implemented successful training programs that were recognized fleet-wide. Seabourn has been awarded repeatedly as one of the world’s top luxury cruise lines.
Onboard Seabourn Michael traveled the world visiting some of the most beautiful and even remote ports of the globe. It was in his travels that he found unique wines, first-class foods and superior hospitality standards. Michael spent 6 years with Seabourn before meeting his American wife onboard and relocating back home to New Zealand.
While rediscovering his kiwi roots, Michael joined the launch team at Craggy Range Winery in Hawke’s Bay where they launched one of, “New Zealand’s most ambitious wineries ever”, as described by Jancis Robinson. It was at Craggy Range where Michael had the privilege of reporting to what Decanter Magazine describes as one of the 50 most influential people in the world of wine, Steve Smith, MW. Michael also was fortunate enough to cross-train in the winery with a hands-on experience guided by wine maker, Doug Wisor (1973-2004), a young America who hand-crafted one of the highest rated red wines by Robert Parker to come out of New Zealand.
Family illness brought Michael and Jackie back to the United States where they would temporarily settle in Sonoma, California before coming to the east coast. Michael was quickly picked up in Napa Valley by one of the oldest wineries, Niebaum-Coppola Winery (currently Rubicon Estate) owned by five-time Oscar winning film director, writer and producer Francis Ford-Coppola.
At Niebaum-Coppola Michael was able to put the training programs he designed at Seabourn into use serving as their Wine Educator. Among Michael’s responsibilities was to train the over 100 tasting room employees in all areas of wine tasting, production and service. During their time in New Zealand, Sonoma and Napa, Michael and Jackie stumbled upon unique and approachable wine & food destinations that were ultimately the concept behind The Wine House. Jackie being a native of Northern Virginia made a suggestion to Michael that that the NOVA market needs a unique and approachable wine & food destination that brings together all their experiences. With that the two moved east and started drafting the business plan that would become The Wine House.