General Manager & Winemaker
“I had never given much thought to fate, but as I look out my kitchen window toward Bouchaine amidst its vines, I realize that coming to Bouchaine Vineyards is the culmination of my life in wine. Everything that I've learned over the last 30-some years comes to bear.”
|Photo: Douglas Thompson||
“Being at Bouchaine has also rekindled the student in me. I don't accept innovations automatically, but it's incumbent on me to try them on for size. Winemaking is a very soft science,” muses Bouchaine Winemaker Michael Richmond.
Driven by a “renaissance palate” and an unquenchable thirst for adventure, that’s how Michael explains his path to Bouchaine. A path that includes obtaining his pilot's license, fly-fishing, and – at every opportunity – riding his bicycles. A native Texan, Michael Richmond graduated from the University of Texas at Austin with a degree in Special Education. He arrived in Napa Valley after an eighteen-month cross country bicycle tour adventure. Upon arrival, Michael immediately began a career in wine at Freemark Abbey. There, he worked in virtually all aspects of operations while simultaneously attending courses in winemaking at UC Davis and tasting, tasting, tasting.
In 1979, Michael seized the opportunity to co-found Acacia Winery in the Carneros district of Napa Valley. Acacia was one of the first California wineries to feature vineyard-designated wines. “We had all cast our lot with Pinot Noir, which was a much-maligned variety at the time. We dared to take on the doubting wine press.”
A couple of vintages later, Michael helped establish The Steamboat Pinot Noir Conference with a focus on production and camaraderie instead of competition and grades.
When Acacia was acquired by the Chalone Group in 1986, Michael spent several years as Chalone's vice president of sales. In 1993, he returned to winery life when Chalone assigned him to manage their Carmenet Winery, where he created the "Dynamite" Cabernet label. Five years later, Michael returned to manage Acacia for a second stint.
Then, at the Steamboat Conference in the summer of 2002, he heard that the owners of Bouchaine were looking for a general manager and winemaker. “At that moment, I recall, a sense of destiny swept over me.” During Michael's first interview with Gerret and Tatiana Copeland, “I sensed a great resonance of shared vision and purpose. Now, more than ten years later, I feel honored to be part of such a vital team dedicated to growing better grapes, and making better wine.”