10 winemakers you need to know
Published by Naked Ryan - 25th Jan 2017
One of the reasons Angel-funded wines taste so good is that every wine is the passion project of an independent winemaker who stands behind his or her work.
Anyone with tastebuds can take a sip of these wines and know they’re something special – but if you’re ready to take it to the next level and enjoy the wines even more, then you should get to know the winemakers behind the wine. Not only are they the winemakers behind the world’s most famous wines… they’re also really fun people with a contagious level of passion!
Here’s 10 winemakers you need to know
It’s really hard to play favorites so I just want to introduce you to 10 winemakers who are great at interacting with wine drinkers on the site.
If you follow these guys and gals, you’re going to enjoy your wine even more than you do already because these winemakers’ special stories about wine, vineyards, and wineries will delight you all year.
- If you want to know what all the popular kids are drinking, follow: Stephen Millier
- If you have a culture crush on Australia and love vineyard photos, follow: Jen Pfeiffer
- If you’re a Facebook fan that loves indie winemakers, follow: Sam Plunkett
- If you tweet pictures of your home-cooked meals, follow: Dalia Ceja
- If you love a good geeky wine fact or two (and have a quirky sense of humor) follow: Katy Michaud
- If you have notebooks full of tasting notes (and want more!) follow: Rod Easthope
- If you’re looking for more meaningful conversations about wine, follow: Tim Olson
- If you want to be part of a young winemaker’s personal journey, follow: Alex Farber
- If you need encouragement to drink sparkling wine every day, follow: Wayne Donaldson
- If you’re a nature lover and covet the life of a wild mushroom forager, follow: Jim Olsen
Scroll down for more details about why I’m recommending each of these winemakers, and check out some prime examples of their most popular posts.
F. Stephen Millier – our most popular winemaker
Stephen Millier has more followers than any other Angel-funded winemaker (over 29,000 as I write this article). And what’s more, he has more perfect 5-heart ratings than any other winemaker on the entire internet (we’re talking 6 digits!) That’s more than any winemaker on Amazon, Vivino, CellarTracker, and every other wine website we’ve been able to check.
And on top of being our most popular winemaker, Stephen still replies to every review he gets!
Stephen was one of the first winemakers to champion the wines of Calaveras County and the area surrounding the Sierra Foothills and he’s a lot of fun to follow. A classic Naked Story.
Follow Stephen Millier and you’re sure to get a new perspective on some of California’s most up-and-coming regions.
Jen Pfeiffer – the most interactive winemaker
Jen is an exuberant force of nature. She’s tons of fun and lives up to the slogan on her wine label: “Rock it like a redhead!”
She posts more than any other winemaker (about once a week) and is constantly giving her followers a glimpse into the life of an Australian winemaker. Whether she’s talking about what’s going on in the vineyard or sharing stories about visitors, Jen’s always got a great big smile on her face.
If you want to feel like you’ve got a real friend in the wine business, you should definitely follow this rockin’ redhead!
Sam Plunkett – for Facebook-lovers who want to support indie winemakers
Sam is the classic Naked story: a talented, indie winemaker who is thriving thanks to your support.
And he is very active on Facebook where he’s been chronicling his journey with Naked Angels for years. In 2016, Sam actually got to build his very own winery thanks to the support of his Angels and he posted photos and facebook updates all along the way.
Sam is definitely a great winemaker to know if you’re new to nakedwines.com and want to hear about how Angels help the little guys.
Dalia Ceja – for Twitter-fanatics and foodies alike
One of our youngest winemakers, Dalia is constantly tweeting about life in Napa, Sonoma and Carneros. She also loves to post food recipes to go with her wine and is a great follow if you’re looking for food pairing ideas.
We could all use more scrumptious food pairings in our lives. BBQ oysters. Goat birria, cilantro rice and pickled veggie escabeche. Homemade chilaquiles topped with queso fresco and avocado. Yes please!
Follow Dalia on Twitter and her posts with her winemaking partner Everardo Robledo at nakedwines.com
Katy Michaud – get geeky and learn about wine
If you’ve got a geeky side, you’ll really enjoy following Kate Michaud.
Kate gives her followers a peek behind the curtain and teaches us all a bit more about how wine is made. She gives us insight into some of the cool wine knowledge she discovers like where Red Mountain grapes get their name.
She’ll post about how the cold weather is affecting her vineyards and what that means for her finished wine. On years where it feels hot, she’ll actually check the data and post some charts that show how warm the growing season was in Washington and explain what that heat means for the vineyards.
Plus, she’s got a really funny sense of humor. Sometimes she and her daughter respond to the wine reviews together and it cracks me up every time.
Rod Easthope – epicly detailed tasting notes and vintage reports
Rod’s was the incredibly talented head winemaker from one of New Zealand’s most iconic wineries (Craggy Range) before he got Angel funding and struck out on his own. Now we get great wines from Rod and they each come with incredible vintage reports and tasting notes.
“2016 was another fantastic vintage with a long dry summer and autumn – ideal conditions for the accumulation of aroma and flavour. To realise the grapes full potential, harvesting took place in the cool of the morning and after crushing, the juice was allowed to sit in contact with grape skins for a further 6 hours. Then a cool fermentation took place followed by a a few months where the wine remained on contact with the spent yeast (lees).
All of this allows the fruit to shine and for the palate to gain some weight and length. This particular vineyard always gives us a mineral note that could be characterised as flint or a chalkiness. However, a warning; New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc has bright fresh acidity – and this Martinborough rendition is no exception. Going by feedback from past vintages of this wine in the US, that can be a polarising trait. For us that fresh acidity counter balances the fresh core of fruit in this style of wine.
It is a surprisingly versatile wine with or without food. We enjoy it as a bracing aperitif. But also with shellfish based dishes. It also goes really well with hard cheeses.
Naked Wine and you Angels helped to make this wine come to fruition, and now I have one last request of you; your valued feedback and thoughts. Over to you Angels – enjoy.”
Follow this amazing winemaker and you’re going to enjoy his wines even more because you’ll have a winemaker’s insight into what makes the wines so special.
Timothy Olson – for in-depth wine conversations
If you’re tired of 140-character tweets and want a deeper conversation about wine, Tim is your man.
His decades of experience in the wine industry as a winemaker and a barrel expert give him a really deep and knowledgable background. And his friendly disposition makes him perfect to explain some of these complicated subjects to wine newbies.
Alex Farber – a heart-warming story
Something about this young prodigy’s posts always tugs at my heartstrings. Whether she’s explaining the touching story of how her wine label is a tribute to her great grandmother (one of the first women to graduate from the Art Institute of Chicago) or thanking her Angels, Alex always knows how to make her followers feel all warm and fuzzy.
If you like inspiring stories about young people rising to new heights, Alex is a great winemaker to know.
Wayne Donaldson – a friend who will encourage you to drink sparkling wine… constantly
We all need enablers in our lives. Wayne is a very cool veteran sparkling winemaker (he was the head of sparkling wine at Domaine Chandon as in Moet & Chandon). And he loves bubbles.
His posts are short and to the point and they always make me smile. And they also make me think about popping a bottle of bubbles just for fun.
Follow Wayne if you want the occasional reminder that every day is full of good excuses to celebrate with a bottle of bubbles.
Jim Olsen – For wild mushroom hunting adventures
And last but certainly not least, I wish every Angel followed Jim Olsen.
Whether he’s hunting for wild mushrooms in the Sonoma mountains or setting his kitchen on fire, his posts are always entertaining.
Industry veterans like Jim have the freedom to follow their dreams thanks to Angel support. And they love to share their adventures with you to thank you for the support!
Follow Jim and you’ll get a smile every time one of his emails pops into your inbox – I promise!
You’re going to love following these winemakers
The first time you get an update from one of the winemakers, or they reply to one of your comments on their wine, you’ll feel a little thrill – you’re friends with a real winemaker and you helped them make their dream wine a reality!