Mat Gustafson, Winemaker

Mat's passion for wine began while working at his uncle's store in his home state of Michigan. By the young age of 18, Mat earned his hotel/restaurant degree and began managing restaurants. He then moved to Colorado and received a degree in Political Science from University of Colorado, Boulder. He worked his way through college holding the position of Sommelier at the Flagstaff House Restaurant in Boulder. While the Flagstaff House continued to earn the Grand Award from the Wine Spectator since 1983 and having over 2000 wines on the list, Mat was able to taste some of the finest wines in the world! This is where he became hooked on Domain Leflaive White Burgundy, which would one day become his model for making Chardonnay.

When Mat graduated from UC, he came to Napa Valley and started working for Joseph Phelps Vineyards. He was a tour guide, worked in the cellar, and then the Napa Valley wine sales representative. As Phelps was in need of a Southern California sales person, Mat relocated to Los Angeles for a three-year contract. After serving his position, he returned to Northern California and went back into the restaurant business holding the position as Wine Buyer and Sommelier at John Ash & Co in Santa Rosa. While tasting a 1975 Russian River Valley Pinot Noir, he discovered great quality and age-ability from this incredible Sonoma County Appellation. Mat's passion turned to Russian River Valley Pinot Noirs. He then opened the Oakville Grocery in Healdsburg where he was the Wine Buyer and Assistant Manager. However, Mat decided his desire was to make wine. He was hired at Oakville Ranch Winery and worked for two years in the cellar. This is when Mat decided to take his passion for wine to the next level.

He began a vineyard development business in western Sonoma County and started making wine on his own. While developing vineyards during the heightened grape-planting boom in the late 1990's, Joe Dutton of Dutton Ranch recommended Mat for small production sites. Mat crushed his first vintage of chardonnay at Sebastopol-Dutton Estate Winery. In 2001, Mat sold his share of his vineyard management company and began working at Sebastopol-Dutton Estate Winery. He started making wine under Merry Edwards, as she was the consulting enologist for the winery. In 2002, he was promoted to head winemaker as Merry handed the art of the winery's winemaking to Mat. His knowledge and understanding of the best vineyards sites at Dutton Ranch is unsurpassed. Mat states, "grape sources are never an issue."

Mat is dedicated to low-input winemaking techniques. Whenever possible, indigenous yeast is used for fermentation as well as indigenous ML bacteria. He uses as little SO2 as possible and bottles the wine without filtration. "Slower indigenous fermentations make for more a complex wine and a more refined and seamless wine as well," says Mat. "Lower levels of SO2 in the barrel allow for 'elevage', the elevation of the wine quality in the barrel that higher levels of SO2 stifle." Mat is committed to Burgundian and Rhone varietals and winemaking. His plan is to make some of the best wines in Sonoma County.

2016 Interview with Cress Wine Design