Michaela, Michael and Lois Sones
is a small family winery located on the Westside in Santa Cruz, California. Our goal is to produce small lots of fine quality, distinctively Californian wines from grape varieties that flourish in California. Our primary focus is on Petite Sirah and Zinfandel.
Our Journey into Wine
Michael and Lois Sones met in the mid-1980s while working at sea on the Carla Costa cruise ship – he, a social photographer; she, a massage therapist on break from medical social work.
Michael is British, born and raised in England, the biggest per capita wine market in the world. Soon after completing a course in photography, Michael joined the cruise ships as a photographer. Good food and good wine play a big part in life aboard cruise ships, and in this social, maritime environment his love of wine developed.
Zinfandel grapes at Wiedeman Vineyard
After 15 years at sea, Michael came to California, where he completed a degree in Fermentation Science at U.C. Davis in 1995. As Michael, Lois and their daughter, Michaela, make their home in Santa Cruz, Michael turned to the Santa Cruz Mountains to develop his winemaking skills. He began his wine journey at Ridge Vineyards as a Cellar Assistant; then joined Bonny Doon Vineyard, first as Cellar Assistant, followed by Cellar Master, then as Assistant Winemaker. Next he moved to David Bruce Winery as Cellar Master and member of the winemaking team. Currently he is Winemaker at Bargetto Family Winery in Soquel.
Lois is a native Californian. She grew up in a social family where good food was the norm at every meal. As an adult, she learned how the pleasures of good wine enhance the experience of good food, especially when shared with friends. One of her early and most pleasant wine memories is of good friends, a balmy summer’s evening on a boat in the Sacramento Delta, lovely French cheeses with a crackly baguette, and a 1978 Ridge York Creek Zinfandel. Lois, an avid cook and one-time caterer, brings an understanding of the sensory aspects of wine blending and aging. Before Sones' first release in 2006, Lois worked in the tasting room of Pelican Ranch Winery in Santa Cruz.
Thus began the journey into Sones wine ….
We use a variety of oak barrels, including French, Hungarian and American. This is oak being split in Hungary for Trust barrels, one of our favorite European cooperages.
Our initial selection includes Petite Sirah and Zinfandel because we believe that these varietals flourish locally and produce distinctively Californian wines. Both have been grown in California since the late 1800s, have survived prohibition, phyloxera and trends in popularity, and more of both are grown in California than in any other part of the world. As Sones increases its production, we will add another varietal or two, including a white, but will maintain our focus on Petite Sirah, a varietal we both love and believe to be under-appreciated in California.
We plan to limit our production to a size where it remains a personal enterprise, made by our family. Our intention is to produce fine wines that fit our notion of wine as a social drink best enjoyed with good food and good friends.
Sones wines are available only in selected fine wine shops, restaurants, at local events and directly from us. We hope this approach will foster a personal connection with our customers.
Our label represents the blend of traditions that informs our winemaking.
As we met at sea, the image of a figurehead, a forward-looking, magical and protective being, is one with which we both resonate. This Minerva, with wine grapes in place of a shield, represents the California wines we make as well as the origins of each of our family members. Minerva is depicted on the Great Seal of California, Lois’ home state; and the image of Britannia comes from the Anglification of Minerva during the Roman occupation in Britain. Thus, Minerva represents Michael’s Britain, Lois’ California, and our daughter Michaela’s blend of the two.