Meet Michael Havill, Winemaker

Following Michael Havill is following the evolution of a winemaker; a very good winemaker. With a philosophy to do everything right the first time-from grape growing to winemaking-under her skillful hands, Amador’s BellaGrace Winery & Vineyard is catching the eye of wine enthusiasts and critics.

“Charlie began researching Shenandoah Valley and in 2006 we found an ideal piece of property. It was love at first site for us both. Did we spend a lot of time thinking this through? – No!”

Today Michael crafts 4 whites, 2 rosés and a wide variety of red wines at the property. “Charlie [my husband] and I believe that quality always comes with the fruit. Give me good fruit and I can make great wine,” says Michael. And she and Charlie are proving the truth of that statement. Under Charlie’s stewardship, the BellaGrace vineyard has consistently produced quality fruit that provides the foundation for Michael’s award-winning wines.

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Meet Chris Leamy, Winemaker, Terra d’Oro

Locals in Amador don’t watch the calendar, they watch Chris Leamy’s hair: If it’s bright purple, it’s harvest time. Having a bit of a spiky ‘do, it perfectly captures Chris’ personality: work hard, play hard, and be sure to not take yourself too seriously. Not surprisingly this attitude reflects itself in his wines: varietally distinct, well-crafted and with a hint of playfulness.

Chris had found the perfect marriage of science and art in the craft of winemaking.

As Chris will readily tell you, he is a published author (National Association of Realtors essay winner, 4th grade) and a featured artist (2nd place winner for the Campaign for Human Development, 11 years old). But stray from his “illustrious creative career” and turn the conversation to wine and soon the laughter quiets down, the tone calms, and a more serious, thoughtful Chris emerges. Although he has never taken a single winemaking class, it is soon apparent how his intelligence and passion has led to his wines having garnered some of the highest awards, year after year.

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“…The Amador I see”

Deirdre Mueller is a woman on a mission.  “I want people to see the Amador I see.  To know the Amador I know.  It’s a rich, beautiful, down to earth place with a burgeoning wine industry and an extraordinary food scene.  It’s been hidden from the rest of California for too long.”

“Mueller’s love of the county led to the Barbera Festival” 

Mueller came up with the idea of Amador Four Fires to showcase the county’s talents and to share her passion for the place.

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Meet Jeff Runquist, Winemaker

What first struck me when I met Jeff Runquist was his quiet, focused intensity. And then that glint of wry humor peeks out and you realize you are in for a memorable time, be it dinner under the arbor with his gracious wife, Margie, or a tasting in his Amador tasting room.

Jeff brings that same concentration and humanity to his winemaking, and you can taste it: Complex flavors that dance with each other, leading to the next, never overstepping, and finally ending with a smile on your face.

Jeff Runquist’s route to being a premier Amador winemaker is also reminiscent of a dance; twirling and moving through the paces of his career, ending up back where it all started.

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