Michael Scholz, a sixth-generation winemaker hailing from Australia’s renowned Barossa Valley, boasts a storied career rooted in family tradition and a passion for crafting exceptional wines. Graduating with a Bachelor of Science in Oenology in 1985 from Roseworthy, Australia’s pioneering agricultural institution, Scholz embarked on a globe-trotting journey to perfect his craft, gaining invaluable experience in France, South Africa, and the United States.
For over a decade, Scholz has dedicated his expertise to St. Supéry Estate Vineyards and Winery, continuously pushing the boundaries to unlock the full potential of their exquisite estate fruit. His philosophy that great wine begins in the vineyard has been the cornerstone of his tenure at St. Supéry. Upon arrival in 1996, he orchestrated an extensive replanting project, aligning vineyard blocks with their ideal varietals, with a focus on Bordeaux classics. This vision gave birth to a signature style that has captivated wine enthusiasts worldwide. Notably, his Sauvignon Blanc has become a California benchmark, while his 1998 creation, the Bordeaux-inspired blend Élu, received accolades from the likes of renowned wine consultant Michel Rolland, who regarded Scholz as a great winemaker on the global stage.
In an insightful interview, Scholz reveals his humble beginnings in a vineyard, showcasing his deep-rooted connection to winemaking as a family tradition. When asked about his dream wine companions, he straddles the line between legendary winemakers like Robert Mondavi and Peter Lehmann, and iconic rock stars like John Lennon, Steven Tyler, and Ronnie Van Zant, reflecting his multifaceted passion.
For Scholz, the most rewarding aspect of winemaking lies in the intricate journey from vine to bottle. He emphasizes that winemaking is a holistic, farm-to-table endeavor, beginning with a farmer’s heart and culminating in the creation of exquisite wines.
Having immersed himself in Napa Valley’s wine industry since 1996, Scholz has amassed over two decades of experience, solidifying his status as a respected figure in the region. A lesser-known facet of his life is his past as a Quarter Horse rider in the Youth Nationals in Australia, revealing his diverse interests beyond the world of wine.
Scholz’s journey into the wine industry was punctuated by a transformative moment when he tasted Henschke’s Hill of Grace, a Barossa Valley Shiraz, which left an indelible mark on his palate and inspired his winemaking pursuits.
To aspiring winemakers looking to break into Napa Valley’s competitive wine industry, Scholz offers sage advice: “If you want to be a winemaker, make sure you want to be a farmer.” He underscores the symbiotic relationship between viticulture and winemaking.
In recognizing the Napa Valley vintners who have influenced him, Scholz pays homage to Joseph Phelps, citing their consistent quality as an enduring source of inspiration. Regardless of vintage or winemaker, Joseph Phelps wines consistently embody excellence, mirroring Scholz’s unwavering commitment to crafting exceptional wines.
Michael Scholz’s journey from the vineyards of Barossa Valley to the prestigious halls of St. Supéry Estate Vineyards and Winery is a testament to his unwavering dedication to the art and science of winemaking. With an illustrious career that continues to flourish, Scholz remains a prominent figure in Napa Valley’s wine industry, consistently producing wines that are a testament to his passion, experience, and innovative spirit.