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 want to know what it’s like to hunt for the best fruit in Napa, follow: Matt Parish
- If you love a good geeky wine fact or two (and have a quirky sense of humor) follow: Katy & Justin 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: Ondine Chattan
- 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 an avid outdoorsman, follow: Dave Harvey
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.
Like Sam’s facebook page and follow his winemaker page to get heart-warming updates in your news feed.
Matt Parish – for a behind-the-scenes look at the world’s most extravagant wines
After 25 vintages overseeing the winemaking for huge Napa brands like Beringer, Stags’ Leap and Etude and many more, Matt Parish launched his own brand with Angels’ support.
Matt’s a laser-precise winemaker. We asked him for a rich, smooth Napa Cabernet. He delivers that and so much more – and loves taking Angels along for the journey when he scouts fun one-off projects too. When he’s not digging up incredibly famous grapes in Napa subregions like Rutherford and Oakville, Matt’s hopping on international flights to make specialty passion projects for Angels, like Spanish Garnacha.
Follow Matt’s adventures on nakedwines.com.
Katy and Justin Michaud – get geeky and learn about wine
If you’ve got a geeky side, you’ll really enjoy following husband and wife duo Katy and Justin Michaud.
Katy 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.
And Justin will post about how the cold weather is affecting the vineyards and what that means for finished wine. On years where it feels hot, they both 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, the Michauds have a really funny sense of humor. Sometimes Katy and her daughter respond to the wine reviews together and it cracks me up every time.
Rod Easthope – epically 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.
“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.
Ondine Chattan – for in-depth wine conversations
If you’re tired of 140-character tweets and want a deeper conversation about wine, Russian River Valley winemaking legend Ondine Chattan is your woman.
her decades of experience in the wine industry as a winemaker and ginormous love for the wines of California’s north coast give her a really deep and knowledgable background. And she has an incredible ability to explain some of the most complicated parts about winemaking to wine newbies.
Alex Farber – a heartwarming 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.
Dave Harvey – If you’re looking to reel in the catch of the day
And last but certainly not least, I wish every Angel followed Dave Harvey
Whether he’s taking winemakers on his speedboat along the Columbia River or partnering with his town to make life-saving equipment for local health and emergency responders, Dave’s a classy guy – always looking to lend a helping hand, make great wines and catch a nice fish along the way.
Local heroes like Dave 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 Dave 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!
Nice article Ryan!!!
Thanks Jurhee – it’s easy to write about these winemakers when they’re sooo interesting.
I just wanted to create a place where newbies could find a few winemakers to follow to get into the community.