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The Winemaker

With over 16 years of experience, Michael Fay is an industry-celebrated winemaker and a recognized specialist in California viticulture. Born in Vicenza, Italy, near the region of Friuli, Fay developed a passion for winemaking while studying forestry management at the University of Washington. “I wanted to cultivate a relationship with nature,” he admits, “but my growing love of Pinot made me realize I didn’t want to make paper—I wanted to make wine.” Shortly after this revelation, Fay transferred to Cal Poly, San Luis Obispo to study enology and viticulture, taking a role in the vineyards at Cambria Estate in Santa Maria in 2000. He moved on to become cellar master at Firestone Vineyards, expanding his purview to delve into coastal Cabernets and rich Zinfandels, then returned to Cambria to hone his skills under noted winemaker Denise Shurtleff. By 2007, Fay juggled roles as assistant winemaker for Cambria, guiding the growth of their artisan reds, and lead winemaker for Los Alisos Wines, overseeing all aspects of their estate program. Centered on securing the best education for budding winemakers on the Central Coast, he helped oversee the conception and design of the Enology department while teaching at Allan Hancock College. Most recently, Fay led one of the most diverse and expansive programs in California as winemaker for Duckhorn’s Goldeneye Winery, succeeding famed winemaker Zach Rasmuson.

Fay has mastered his craft by making small lot, site-specific wines, using old world techniques to highlight their sense of place. “Michael’s emphasis on clonal selections speaks to the roots on which Sextant Wines was formed,” offers Proprietor Craig Stoller. “He joins us at a pivotal time, and his insight will be integral to the expansion of our vineyards.” Fay brings a philosophy that closely matches Sextant’s mission, with a central focus of producing terroir-inspired, boutique wines without compromising industry-standard quality. He shares a perspective that complements Sextant’s as well: “My goal isn’t to speak for the wines, but to let the wines speak for themselves.” A tenured leader, Fay knows how to truly inspire and positively influence those he supports, starting with the mantra that happy people make happy wine. When not in the vineyards, he can be found supporting local arts, enjoying live music, playing sports, or splashing around the Central Coast beaches.

The Winemaking Process

Our Philosophy

At Sextant Wines we are devoted to creating unmatchable, old world varietal wines by taking full advantage of the ideal wine grape terroir of the Central Coast region.  This allows us to grow grapes to their optimal maturity, creating unique wines of supreme quality.

The Techniques

At Sextant Wines we pride ourselves in producing wines using natural, hands-off winemaking techniques.

Our Specialty

The highly acclaimed Sextant Wines specializes in powerful Zinfandel and Petite Sirah Blends.

The Estate Winery and Production Facility

Sextant Wines has built a state-of-the-art custom crush and winemaking facility complete with tasting room and hospitality center.  The new facility is located on the west side of Highway 46 in Paso Robles.  We invite you to join us!