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Michael Horton

What began as a way to keep my family and friends up to date during my first overseas vintage experience developed into this website. Since 2009, I have tried to provide a unique view into my life by creating a venue to share my experiences and knowledge with others.

Apart from being a passionate winemaker, I am a surfer, adventure enthusiast, traveler, writer, photographer, food connoisseur, and person who is genuinely happy about life and where it takes me.

Thanks for stopping by and please feel free to contact me with any inquiries, opportunities, or just to say hello!


View my Curriculum Vitae

Combining science with artistic creativity

The science of winemaking has always fascinated me, but it was something else that led me to the wine industry. Despite centuries of study, so much remains a mystery about wine. Winemakers must combine science with artistic creativity, and it is addicting. I love every aspect of wine production, not just the work and its results, but the people and culture surrounding it all. 

I was another lost adolescent when I began my studies at California Polytechnic University. Not a bad student, just lacking in passion and motivation until I took my first harvest position at a local winery and everything changed. I promptly changed my curriculum and just a couple years later, was appointed the student winemaker for Cal Poly Wine and graduating with two Bachelor's Degrees: Wine & Viticulture and Agricultural Business.

Over the years, my career has allowed me to work alongside numerous talented winemakers, who have taught me a myriad of approaches and techniques of winemaking. I have worked in facilities ranging in size from 2,000 to 30,000 tons, and managed 80-ton Cabernet Sauvignon ferments, 200,000-liter Chardonnay batches, 500-liter Gruner Veltliner batches, 1/2-ton Pinot Noir ferments, and everything in between. I have worn pretty much every hat possible in a winery: client winemaker, tank digger, press operator, fermentation winemaker, punchdown specialist, forklift driver, intake winemaker, lab rat, sanitation expert, cellar supervisor, cellar hand, inoculation guru, and the list goes on. 

In 2013, I decided to apply my winemaking knowledge to a new challenge and took on the role of cidermaker for Albens Cider in Bali, Indonesia. 

"Bizzare travel plans are dancing lessons from God."

Traveling does not always involve a destination. I think it's more of a mindset. A simple stroll down the street can be an adventure if you're open to it. New experiences fascinate me. When I do have a destination, I pack light and arrive carefree because the best dances usually aren't scripted in advance.

I always find a way to stay active. Surfing, fishing, mountain biking, diving, skating, hiking, camping, and anything ocean-related are often on my itinerary. The ocean has always been a driving force in my life. Some of my earliest memories are swimming in the shore break and searching the tide pools for sea creatures. No matter how many people are in the water, surfing has always given me a sense of solitude that allows for spiritual healing and growth. 

 

"We don't lose friends, we just learn who our real ones are."

I have crossed paths with countless people, whom could be called acquaintances, mentors, travel companions, colleagues, competitors, or surf buddies. Whether conscious or not, big or small, each one has made a lasting impact on my life.

I am blessed with a strong support system, especially my wife Kristin who puts up with, amongst other things, a sometimes reckless and crazy husband. To everyone, I am grateful.