Hannah Danforth
Maria and Michael Taylor outside their tasting room.

He makes wine, she makes people look pretty

By Hannah Danforth

Influenced by his wife’s Italian heritage and family history of winemaking, West Seattle's Michael Taylor’s modest start as a winemaker began in his basement as a hobby 10 years ago.

Finding passion in his pastime, Michael attended the Northwest Wine Academy - Wine Technology program at South Seattle Community College in 2007. Michael’s background as an Orthopedic PA made the the science-minded approach to winemaking easy for him. Feeling confident in his chemistry, he believed he could make great wine.

It took Micheal two years of pleading to get his wife, Maria, on board when he started school. “Took longer than that,” Maria jokes. She was hoping he might wait until their two sons, Dominic and Nicholas, were older. “Having two kids, I’m working full time, running my own business, he’s working full time, it’s just a lot of work... but we don’t mind working,” said Maria.

Now, Two Brothers Winery tasting room sits below her Belli Capelli salon at 3902 California Ave. S.W., where the two family businesses make a complementary pairing.

Maria credits the West Seattle community with being encouraging, “They really support local businesses.” Michael though, gives his wife a lot of credit for how much she gives back to the community and how her history in West Seattle has led to so much support from friends and neighbors.

Named for their sons, the Two Brothers wine bottle label features a silhouette of the boys, holding hands and looking over a Red Mountain vineyard. The boys, along with friends and neighbors, lend a hand with the crushing of the grapes and fermentation. “People always come and help out. It’s just a lot of fun,” said Michael.

In 2009, Michael made his first batch of four barrels. That was two barrels of cabernet and two barrels of merlot, sold mostly to friends and family and donated to their local church, Holy Rosary. In 2010, he made 15 barrels, yielding 100 cases of merlot and 200 cases of Fiore Rosso, a cab, merlot and syrah blend. These two vintages are Two Brothers first commercially available wines released this past holiday season. This is the first batch where he is personally contacting local restaurants and businesses and selling his wine. Local restaurants, Jack’s Grill and Duos, both carry Two Brothers and Fresh Bistro had a winemakers dinner featuring his wine.

When it came to getting grapes, Michael, a fan of Leonetti Cellars, asked if they knew where a small, independent wine maker could get grapes. He was lucky enough to be put in touch with a grower in the Red Mountain region. Red Mountain’s reputation for ideal weather during the growing season produces some of the state’s most sought after fruit and highly acclaimed vintages.

Now an award-winning winemaker, having received a gold medal at the Seattle Wine awards and a silver at the Washington State wine competition, Michael just finished bottling his 2011 merlot and Fiore Rosso blend set to be released this coming Thanksgiving.

Michael is hoping to find his own commercial space on California AveNUE, where he would become a community winery, making only small, handcrafted batches. “I finally got the courage to submit my wine to more competitions, wine columnists and restaurants. I’m nervous though. It’s like putting your heart out there.”

The tasting room is open Fridays 3:30 to 6pm or private tasting by appointment only.

Saturday, February 22nd Two Brothers is featuring a Wine Tasting paired with Wow Chocolates from Redmond, WA.

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