It’s not very often that I’m able to say there’s a Napa Valley wine label founder in my nearby vicinity of New Jersey. Yesterday, Michelle Faustini and I had lunch at The Butcher’s Block, presently a BYOB restaurant in Long Branch, NJ. She brought along with her a selection of the wines she produces which we sampled during our lunch.
We sampled her Chardonnay, Rousanne, Malbec, Cabernet Sauvignon, and The Secret Vail (very fancy). Each wine was more intriguing than the next and all equally complex in their own regard. One might have thought she has been doing this her whole life, slowly crafting and perfecting her wines. But quite the contrary.
What I found most fascinating about Michelle is that running her own wine label isn’t her original career, nor did she inherit blocks of vines from family lineage. Michelle started out in Corporate America.
After years of success in the tech sector, Michelle decided to make the transition to the Wine Industry. The events that surrounded 9/11 were a bit of a reminder to Michelle (and I would say all of us) that life is short and you have to go after your dreams ! After many long discussions, Michelle and her husband Anthony began the process of developing their own high end wine label.
Presently, the Faustini label has been in existence for 14 years. It is an extremely small production of handcrafted boutique wines. Their first wine, a 2005 Cabernet Sauvignon, sourced its fruit from the prestigious Beckstoffer Dr. Crane Vineyard in St. Helena. After seeing how successful her wines could be Michelle was set on building and developing her Faustini wine label.
This bicoastal family works closely with their winemaker Kian Tavakoli, a UC Davis grad who has worked at other prestigious Napa Wine Labels such as Opus One and Clos du Val. They presently own a few blocks of Sauvignon Blanc and source only top quality fruits for the rest of their portfolio.
Michelle is currently self distributing and loves hosting wine dinners. Presently, there are a few places in New Jersey, New York, California, and Rhode Island which carry their wine. On any given day, Michelle can be found wearing any number of hats, from wine tasting the wines in barrell, ensuring they’re developing to her standards, from designing packaging, to selling her wines and all the logistics in between. Although hectic at times, I don’t think Michelle would have it any other way.