Making Wine with Michael Speakman
It’s hard to know whether Michael Speakman chose wine, or if wine chose him. There’s no denying he’s dedicated to Westerly Wines—a wine business he acquired in January 2018. But, there’s a sense of right-place-right-time throughout Michael’s story that warrants wondering about the universe’s role in his rapid rise in such a crowded industry.
A friend introduced Michael to the Westerly wine brand and asked him if he had any interest in getting into the wine business. Michael told him "no, no, no." His friend gave him a bottle of Côte Blonde and told him to have a nice meal and a glass of wine. The next morning, Michael called his friend and asked him how he could get into the wine business. A week later, he was in escrow with Westerly Wines.
As the new owner and CEO, Michael brought renewed excitement and commitment to Westerly Wines while continuing its tradition of producing some of the best juice in the Santa Ynez Valley (located in Santa Barbara County, California). Westerly Wines specializes in premium, handcrafted wines from the Happy Canyon AVA.
Michael entered the wine business to make wine. But, he also wanted to make his wine "give back to the community." Westerly Wines partnered with The Navy SEAL Foundation and Green Beret Foundation.
Westerly Wines and Wake Up Wine also teamed up to cross-promote each other and participate in some wine events together.
WAKE UP WINE: What was “the moment” when wine became your thing?
MICHAEL: The first time I had a bottle of Westerly 2014 Côte Blonde. I fell in love with Westerly and Côte Blonde!
WAKE UP WINE: You’ve had a baseball cards trading business, then ran a Beanie Babies licensing company, and then established a successful real estate business. Now Westerly Wines. How is this is the next evolution of Michael Speakman? Both personally and professionally?
MICHAEL: Next Evolution? This is just fun!!! I love all aspects of being in the wine business, from the wine making process to the wonderful people. It truly is a blessing to be involved in wine and Westerly!
WAKE UP WINE: Tell us about your wines. Is there a common thread that runs through all the wines?
MICHAEL: Most all our wines are from the Happy Canyon AVA, back part of the Santa Ynez Valley. A special place that is producing amazing Bordeaux style wines. “Happy Wines comes from Happy Canyon!”
WAKE UP WINE: Do you have a specific vision for the label at this point? What can people look forward to at Westerly Wines?
MICHAEL: The Westerly label has been around for 20 years now, and we will always carry on with the same look. However, we will be adding a couple new designs. We are working with some local Santa Barbara artists that have created some very hip artwork. These new designs will be on the market early 2020!
WAKE UP WINE: Between you and Joyce, who does what at Westerly Wines?
MICHAEL: Good Question! We split the work up 95% - 5%… My wife handles the 5% of the romance and fun of the wine business and I handle the 95% of the hard work! Just kidding, we both have a blast!
WAKE UP WINE: Why did you choose (to partner with) Wake Up Wine?MICHAEL: The Wake Up Wine Decanter works amazing! We use it at all our wine events and the people that see it for the first time are intrigued!