General Manager and Winemaker
Wine is personal. My goal is to create the best wines that express our five distinct appellations. My aim is to produce elegant, balanced wines that retain their fruit quality and express their vineyard terroir. I like taking raw fruit in and guiding it on the path to great wine.
Michael Beaulac joined the Pine Ridge Vineyards team as General Manager and Winemaker in 2009. He has worked with some of the most highly regarded wineries in both Sonoma and Napa Valley, including St. Supery, Markham Vineyards and Murphy Goode.
Michael’s interest in wine started with his first really good bottle of wine. He quickly noted thereafter the distinct difference between wines, their appellations and ultimately the quality. He read an article on the impact of fruit quality and winemaking and realized wine was not just a commodity. Wine quality was influenced by fruit quality and terroir.
In 1989, he decided to move to wine country from Portland, Maine to embark on his journey to work in the wine industry. He started at Murphy Goode winery in Alexander Valley, working in the cellar for many years to eventually become the Winemaker for the Pinot Noir and Zinfandel programs. He then met Merry Edwards and went to work with her producing Pinot Noir and Chardonnay at Laurier. Most recently, Michael worked at St.Supery for seven years with renowned consulting French winemaker Michel Roland.
Michael joined Pine Ridge Vineyards for the opportunity to work with the 200-estate vineyard acres, within 5 AVA’s, comprised of 12 vineyards. This will be Michael’s 23rd harvest.
Michael has been married for 17 years to his wife Cathy. They have a 9-year-old daughter, Esther, and a 14-year-old son, Eric. When Michael is not making wine you can find him on the ski slopes at Lake Tahoe or out to dinner in Napa.
Wine is an investment of time and skill: Time to cultivate the vines to grow the best grapes and skill to be able to extract the best wines from these grapes. My responsibility is to protect Michael and Gustavo’s investment by shepherding the wine though the cellar from harvest to the bottle.
Mike Conversano began his career as a professional chef before deciding to pursue his passion for wine. To learn more, he worked his first harvest at Domaine Carneros in 1996 and found the experience to be very similar to cooking, which compelled him to explore a career in winemaking.
Conversano went on to receive a master’s degree in Viticulture and Enology from the University of California, Davis, and in 2008, after graduation, he and his family moved to Napa to pursue his dream. He held positions at Cakebread and William Hill Winery to hone his skills before being hired as an enologist at V. Sattui, responsible for overseeing their labs. From there, he was hired as the Assistant Winemaker at Bell Wine Cellars in Yountville, where he was responsible for the daily winemaking operations, overseeing the winery facility and working closely with the vineyard manager and growers.
At Pine Ridge Vineyards, Conversano works side-by-side with Winemaker and General Manager, Michael Beaulac, as they continue to blend from Napa Valley’s five premier appellations to create balanced, food friendly wines that offer a pure expression of the vineyards in which they are grown.
Knowing each vineyard, row-by-row, vine-by-vine; that’s how I grow such high quality grapes. I walk every vineyard, every block, once a week. Being connected to the vines is what helps me to grow quality grapes and leads us to make such high quality wines.
Gustavo came to Napa Valley from Ventura County in 1989 for his first grape harvest. In 1991, his impressive wine growing and vineyard management experience started at Newton Vineyards, where he worked for 6 years in their vineyard team. He went on to join David Abreu, a highly sought after vineyard and planting specialist, to assist with all vineyards under his management, which included many of the highest quality vineyards in Napa Valley.
Through this experience he learned the techniques and management of vineyards to improve the quality of the grapes. He is an expert in pest control and recognizing disease. His ability to manage people and to build a cohesive vineyard team is one of his greatest strengths. Due to his positive attitude, willingness to help and provide clear direction his team continues to stay with him for many years.
He loves seeing and feeling the changes of the weather. To feel the warmth of the morning sun, the air pressure as harvest starts and the humidity of a cool harvest morning is his passion. The challenge of weather keeps him connected to the soil and vineyard cycle.
He has enjoyed working at Pine Ridge for the last nine years; for the diversity of the vineyards across the valley and the opportunity to work with five different AVA’s, which is particularly unique to Pine Ridge Vineyards.
When not in the vineyards, you can find him enjoying a bike ride, dining out, cooking for his family and friends Mexican carnitas or carne adobada tacos or any activity outside with his wife, Blanca, their 15-year-old daughter, Jessica, and 7-year-old son, Gustavo Jr.