Why we are here…I’ll try to keep the back story brief, when I met my future wife Wendy way back in 1983 I did not drink wine or know anything about wine, on our first date when I went to pick her up at her apartment in Pacific Beach, she offered me a glass before heading out to dinner.  I drank it down gladly needing to take the edge off my first date nerves, it was easy to drink, tasty and I think I had a second glass, a “Blanc de Cabernet” if memory serves.  Well later that evening after she felt I might have some “boyfriend” potential she let me know the grapes were from her family’s vineyard “La Presa” in the Santa Ynez Valley.

Well I had never known anyone who’s Family had a wine grape vineyard, she was cute, energetic, laughed at my jokes, liked many of the same things I did  and agreed to go on a second date.

I’ll skip some of the details here like first kiss etc. (I think I shook her hand when we said good night on our first date).  Needless to say we are still together after 27 years and here is where the wine thing comes in.

First Crush
In 2002 Eric Caldwell, my Father-In-Law, Andres Ibarra, La Presa Vineyard Manager and Assistant Winemaker at Fess Parker (at the time) and myself hand picked the first fruit from a small planting of Petite Syrah on La Presa Vineyard, we hand pressed it (0.75 tons) in a borrowed basket press at Fess Parker Winery in Foxen Canyon.  The juice was mouth wateringly delicious, inky dark purple with a deep rich fragrance.  I watched and helped while Andres transferred the juice and skins to start the fermentation process.
Well that juice turned into one of the most delicious Petite Syrah’s I have ever tasted and is continuing to drink wonderfully to this day.

Second Crush
We talked about wine and making more for the next few years, Wendy and I thought one day we might get more involved, it was only after Wendy had a life changing medical experience that we (yes Wendy you did agree) with much encouragement and help from Andres Ibarra, decided to make a second vintage.  This time we were going to try making two varietals Petite Syrah and Chardonnay both of which are some of the finest grapes grown on La Presa Vineyard.  Oh, and we were going to crush enough to sell commercially under our own label “Altman” wines.  What a concept!

Motivation Behind Altman Winery
Altman Winery was founded to showcase wines made from La Presa Vineyard grapes.  To demonstrate the unique plantings, cultivation and growing techniques developed over 35 years since Eric Caldwell and the Caldwell Family hand planted their first Estate Vineyard.

Altman Wines – How to Get Some
Altman Wines are sold direct to the consumer, current vintages available are:
2008 Petite Syrah – Sunset Ridge Vineyard
2008 Chardonnay – La Presa Vineyard
2009 Rosé – California Central Coast
To inquire about ordering please email:

What’s Next
Future entries will explain the approach to making Altman wines, where and how we are making our wines, events where Altman wines will be featured and if you would like, how you can drink Altman wine and taste superb food with the people who make Altman wine.

All the best,
Mike Altman