Fallon Place is a project by winemaker and proprietor Cory Michal dedicated to the small scale creation of single vineyard designate wines from unique sustainably and organically farmed vineyards in Sonoma County. Cory has studied viticulture and enology at UC Davis and Université de Bourgogne, in addition to working for top wineries in Northern California. The wines are produced naturally utilizing the highest quality fruit, minimal intervention winemaking techniques and native fermentations. The wines are meant to reflect the purity of their vineyard terroir for the vintage, offering a snapshot of time and place. The wines are produced first and foremost for our wine allocation club members and can also be found in fine restaurants and wine shops across California.
I was not always obsessed with incredible vineyards, caves of barrels, and cool fermenting Pinot noir and Chardonnay. When I was in my late 20s I was fortunate enough to live and travel in Europe for a time and this is where my obsession with wine began. While in England I lived near a charming old wine bar and shop which I regularly frequented trying wines from many regions I’d never heard of. It was here where I was exposed to some incredible wines from Burgundy, Bordeaux, Tuscany and the Loire Valley. I still remember vividly the first time I tried a Brunello di Montalcino, Château Pavie, and an exquisite Volnay Premier Cru from the Côte de Beaune. I’m not really sure how to describe what happened, it just changed me, forever. From that point on I knew I wanted to deeply understand how these wines were produced, visit the places they were made, and learn the history and culture that lies beneath them. To this day I still take time out to travel to these amazing places and experience the wine and culture whenever possible.
Upon returning home from Europe to the small town where I lived in Wisconsin I found things were simply not the same as when I left. I promptly formulated a plan to move to San Francisco, California to be closer to Sonoma and Napa counties where I could explore the wine regions and continue my wine education. After settling in I quickly enrolled in the University of California Davis program for Viticulture and Enology, doing classes in the evening after my day job and driving from San Francisco to Davis on weekends for extension classes. I spent my spare time visiting the best wineries and vineyards I could find in Sonoma County when I wasn’t helping out during harvest at various wineries in San Francisco.
When I moved to San Francisco I was lucky enough to find a great flat in an old building from 1917 in the Russian Hill neighborhood. This area is known for its old stone walkways, like Macondray Lane, and for its incredibly steep stone staircases. My building on Taylor Street had an old empty cellar below it with a rickety staircase which opened directly on to the brick landing of the stairs at Fallon Place. I often looked at the brick landing and thought how it resembled a small winery crush pad. One day when chatting with the owner of the building I asked if it would be possible to rent the cellar area to store wine. She approved and the Fallon Place project was born. My friends and I spent the next few vintages getting a half ton of grapes each harvest from a vineyard in Sonoma and making a barrel of wine on the old stone staircase at Fallon Place. We had some great times making and drinking those wines at Fallon Place, and enough memorable experiences to fill a book. While working on label designs some of the pictures from Fallon Place inspired a drawing and wooden stamp. This later became the Fallon Place wine label you see today.
Here & Now
After a few years, it became evident that transporting crushed and destemmed Pinot noir grapes to the top of Russian Hill and transferring it one hundred pounds at a time into the cellar for fermentation was pretty absurd. Not to mention production capacity was maxed out and I was probably on the road to eviction from my flat if the building owner found out what was going on. It was at this point when I was lucky enough to meet the owners of a new winery in San Francisco called Dogpatch Wineworks which was started by some folks from the San Francisco Crushpad winery which had recently relocated to Napa. They were nice enough to allow me to get an Alternating Producer license at the winery space and from here I began the production of my first saleable vintages of wine under the Fallon Place label. Since then I’ve been sourcing grapes from some of the finest vineyards in Sonoma County and producing small lot single vineyard designate wines with minimal intervention winemaking. When I initially set out on this endeavor I laid the following ground rules for my winemaking practices and I still follow them wholeheartedly today.
In the Vineyard: I select small organic and sustainably farmed vineyards that have a natural balance between vine, rootstock, and terroir. This results in low fruit yields and intense flavors presenting the opportunity to create amazing wines.
In the Winery: I produce small lot single vineyard designate wines with a focus on quality. I use minimal intervention winemaking processes with the objective of producing wines representative of the soil, grapes, microclimate, and uniqueness of the terroir. I utilize natural fermentations, ML and gravity fed winemaking operations whenever possible to preserve the integrity and subtle characteristics of the wines.
As I look to the future I see Fallon Place developing a small estate vineyard, wine cave, and tasting room on a unique site along the California Coastline. Production will continue to be small as I demand to put my hands on every wine I produce in order to ensure it meets my desired quality level and the embodies the essence of my core winemaking values. Fallon Place will continue to be primarily wine allocation club member driven with very limited distribution only to select restaurants, wine shops and wine bars in the United States. I’m personally extremely grateful to have the opportunity to pursue my passion for producing small lot single vineyard designate wines and I sincerely thank each and every one of you who’ve purchased wine for your support.