Free Spirit Wines – Willamette Valley Wine Education —

Meet Mich

About Mich
“Wine is such a social beverage, and the experience of visiting wine country should be fun and enlightening. I teach classes about wine, and provide itineraries for people who want to go on wine tours in the beautiful Willamette Valley wine country. I believe that when people are knowledgeable about our wines and our wine industry; it enhances their experience and makes it richer! It’s so much fun to help people learn more about it!”

My love of wine was sparked shortly after graduating college, when I put my newly minted-degree to good use, working as a bartender in an Italian restaurant in New York City. An “Ah-ha!” moment with a Chianti (198x Ruffino Chianti Classico Riserva Ducale Oro) ignited a burning desire to know where wine came from and why it had such an impact on me. I began taking classes at the prestigious International Wine Center, founded by the first woman in America to become a Master of Wine, who became an inspiration to me.

Wine became my passion, and I continued to take classes and attend tastings, even as I pursued a career in IT project management. Then came the fateful day seventeen years later (and in the middle of a business meeting, no less), where my true calling became too strong to ignore. Shortly thereafter, I quit my IT career and found my place in the Willamette Valley wine industry.

I began my new career as a winery tasting room manager, where I interacted with guests from around the world and with varying levels of wine knowledge. I made great connections with tasting room managers, winery owners and winemakers from all across the Willamette Valley. I saw that visitors want good information on our area, wines and wineries; but frequently came to me overwhelmed with information and seeking guidance on which wineries to visit.

I then moved to the “other side” of the tasting room bar, escorting guests on private tours. I got to visit winery tasting rooms of all sizes and configurations, and to experience them from the guests’ perspective. I saw firsthand the factors that make a tasting room visit special for the visitor and I discovered which wineries provide that experience.

And through both of those experiences, I learned that education enhances the wine tasting experience and that I love to teach people about wine.

And so I founded Free Spirit Wines with the dual goals of providing visitors to the Willamette Valley with a fun yet solid educational background, and expert guidance on tasting and touring area wineries. I invite you to read more about my Willamette Valley Wine Essentials class, custom classes, and tour itinerary consulting on this website.

I am fortunate enough to have visited wine regions throughout the United States, as well as in France, Spain, Australia and South Africa. But my heart and soul are here in Oregon. I hope my passion and enthusiasm for wine are contagious, as I love nothing more than sharing them with wine enthusiasts of all levels of experience. I look forward to seeing you in a class or chatting with you about your customized tour itinerary!

Fancy Credentials

  • WSET Advanced Certificate in Wines and Spirits with Distinction
  • Member of the Society of Wine Educators
  • Instructor at Indulge Wine School and the Wine and Spirit Archive (Portland)
  • Wine Tasting and Touring Expert for Discover Yamhill Valley
  • Founder and Past President, Willamette Valley Tasting Room Managers Network
  • Volunteer Sommelier at the International Pinot Noir Celebration, Classic Wines Auction and Salud! Auction