Laura and Michael Swanton
Laura and Michael Swanton know the many challenges of establishing a boutique winery dedicated to crafting small quantities of fine wine in the Napa Valley. They have experienced them all in their demanding, yet delicious, journey from fledging winery to award-winning Cabernet Sauvignon and Zinfandel producers.
A long-time wine enthusiast, Owner and Proprietor Laura Swanton purchased the Calistoga winery estate that would become Laura Michael Wines from the Traulsen family in 1999. At the time, Laura was a sales specialist with Cisco Systems in San Jose. It was a career that required intimate knowledge of high-tech product application. Knowing how the technology worked was critical to her success in selling the product.
At the time Laura purchased the winery, Michael had embarked on an independent career in power generation and services, a career that spanned nearly two decades. When they came together in 2006, their current journey started and continues to this day.
Today, their tenacity for learning systems and science is directed at running their small winery and vineyard estate dedicated to limited-production, premium red wines. Since 1999, Laura has managed all winemaking processes from grape sourcing to the logistics of launching and operating a winery. Her zeal to understand winegrowing at its root has her pruning, picking, irrigating and collecting samples in the vineyard. A thirst for winemaking knowledge encourages her participation in crush, pump-overs, racking and bottling.
"We do it all," says Laura. "It's so important that we work alongside every member of our team from the temporary harvest help to our consulting winemaker. We are not ones to stand on the sidelines, and fortunately because we are as small as we are, we can be actively involved in every aspect of this business."
An experienced and talented vineyard and winery team, led by Vice President and Vineyard Manager Michael Swanton, supports Laura in her goal to handcraft rich, red wines that reveal the best of northern California winegrowing. A firm believer in the wisdom of mentors, Laura and Michael have also forged important relationships in their community. "Our winery neighbors have been willing to share so much and to help guide us through the white waters and avoid the pitfalls of the wine business," she explains.
Laura and Michael’s commitment to quality wines from distinguished vineyards is a winning winemaking philosophy. Their 2001 Cabernet Sauvignon, Beckstoffer Vineyards, Georges III took home gold medals from the 2005 San Francisco Wine Competition and the Orange County Fair. Their 2001 Cabernet Sauvignon, Napa Valley also won the gold in Orange County. Additionally, their wines have received high scores from top industry publications. The 2001 Beckstoffer Cabernet received a 93 from Wine Enthusiast and a 90 from Robert Parker's Wine Advocate, while both her 2002 Beckstoffer and 2002 Napa Valley Cabernets received 90s from Wine News. In 2011, The Wine Enthusiast Magazine gave the 2007 Calistoga Cabernet Sauvignon a 94 point review.