In the story of great winegrowing appellations, there are always a few wineries that help to raise the bar and chart the course for a region. As a Pinot Noir specialist, and the winemaker for Goldeneye, Michael Accurso is building on the valley’s reputation as one of the world’s preeminent locations for growing Pinot Noir. At the same time, his belief in a vineyard-inspired, small-lot approach to winemaking is cementing Goldeneye’s status as one of North America’s great Pinot Noir wineries.
Winemaker for Goldeneye
As the winemaker for Goldeneye, Michael Accurso works with the Anderson Valley’s most acclaimed estate Pinot Noir program (which includes over 200 vine acres and more than 24 distinctive clones). Using this diverse palette of fruit, Michael makes terroir-inspired wines that balance depth and power with Pinot Noir’s natural elegance. To achieve this goal, Michael and his skilled team ferment more than 200 individual lots of Pinot Noir each vintage, or roughly one fermentation for every acre farmed. As only the fourth winemaker in Goldeneye’s storied history, Michael is also continuing a measured fine-tuning of the winery’s style, picking at lower Brix and dialing back the amount of new French oak used during aging. “There is nowhere else in the world that makes Pinot Noirs that taste like ours here in the Anderson Valley,” says Michael. “They are deep, lush and complex, with an almost wild, rustic grace that frames the fruit in an incredibly compelling way. My job is to allow this essential Anderson Valley-ness to shine through.”
Born and raised in Napa Valley, wine was an important element in the fabric of Michael’s home life, bringing family together for celebrations revolving around homemade meals and local wines. These early experiences inspired a farm-to-table ethos in Michael that led him to study agricultural business at Cal Poly. After graduation, Michael worked in the tasting room at Silver Oak Cellars, while also moonlighting as a grower relations intern at Diageo Chateau Estates & Wines in Rutherford, where he began gaining hands-on experience in the vineyards. Eager to expand on this experience, and develop a global perspective, Michael traveled to Argentina, working as the viticulturist and assistant winemaker at Estancia San Pablo & Bodega Un Lugar. Following his time in Argentina, Michael returned to the vineyards and the cellar of Silver Oak, before moving to Paso Robles for a job as a vineyard manager.
In 2012, following his fascination for the wines of the Anderson Valley, Michael joined the team at Goldeneye, where he worked alongside previous Winemaker Michael Fay. “Michael was an incredible mentor. He taught me the art and science of winemaking. His approach matched my viticultural background, and my belief that winemaking is a culmination of every decision from the first pruning to the last barrel down.” At Goldeneye, Michael also fell under the spell of Pinot Noir. “Pinot Noir is so demanding, so delicate, and so defined by how it is grown,” Michael adds. “By the time the grapes come off the vine, the wines are largely already made.”
In 2013, Michael left Goldeneye with Michael Fay’s blessing to take a position as the vineyard manager for Ardzrooni Vineyard Management, with a promise that if an assistant winemaker position came open, it would be Michael’s. At Ardzrooni, Michael managed vineyards for a number of high-end wineries like Copain and Littorai, and became extremely knowledgeable about the unique climate and winegrowing region of the Anderson Valley. In 2014, Michael Fay kept his promise, and hired Michael as assistant winemaker. In the years since, Michael has flourished at Goldeneye, gaining a reputation for his viticultural expertise, his technical know-how and his blending artistry. In recognition of his talents, Michael was named Goldeneye’s winemaker in 2016. Since then, he has continued to build on the Anderson Valley’s reputation as one of the world’s preeminent locations for growing Pinot Noir. At the same time, his viticultural roots and his vineyard-inspired, small-lot approach to winemaking are cementing Goldeneye’s status as one of North America’s great Pinot Noir wineries.