Meet Matt Michael - one of Sonoma’s hottest talents.
In his day job, he’s the head winemaker for Robert Young Estate in Alexander Valley - one of the most famed growers and wineries in Sonoma.
And on the side, he’s slowly growing his small family business, Baldassari Wines, with his dad Dom.
The name comes from his grandfather, Vicenzo "Jimmy" Baldassari, who emigrated from Italy aged 11 and carved out the American dream.
Although Jimmy was a plumber in Chicago, he used to make home-made wine in his basement, using grapes trucked over from California. This inspired Matt to become a winemaker.
When the pandemic hit, I set up a Covid Support Fund at Naked Wines, which pledged to get behind small wineries affected by the pandemic.
We ended up ordering $5m worth of wine from 45 wineries, giving them the lifeline they needed to get through the early stages of the pandemic.
And from that batch, there was one producer in the US who for me really stood out from the crowd - Baldassari Wines.
Matt had opened a tasting room in downtown Windsor, Sonoma, at the worst possible time. He reached out to the fund, and when I tasted the wines, it was a no-brainer to help.
I started WineSpark because I knew with my contacts and a smart business model, I could make amazing wines like Matt’s accessible and affordable to Irish people.