Meet Our Winemaker
With our first harvest in 2011, The Barns at Hamilton Station retained Virginia's best-known winemaker, award-winning Michael Shaps. Shaps is the founder of Virginia Cellars and for the past eleven years has created wines in the traditional, old-world style. The white's focus on varietal intensity and the retention of natural acidity. The reds are highly extracted and crafted to be age worthy and require cellaring. He strongly believes in choosing grape varieties that represent the potential of Virginia viticulture. In addition to over one hundred medals in local and national competitions, this award-winning winemaker and Virginia Wineworks secured 5 golds at the 2016 Virginia Governor’s Cup Competition. The most golds awarded to a single winery.
He has consulted on over a dozen start-up wineries in Virginia, is a graduate of the Lycée Viticole de Beaune in Burgundy and is well known to Virginia wine lovers. Shaps’ wines prove that Virginia can produce a successful product that competes head-to -head with some of the finest wines from the best regions in the world. In addition to winning the prestigious Governor's Cup wine competition, his wines have earned gold medals in several competitions and have been written up in publications such as Saveur, Wine Spectator, Wine Advocate, Washingtonian, The Washington Post and many others.
In 1990 Michael Shaps moved to Burgundy, France where he enrolled in the Lycée Viticole de Beaune to study oenology and viticulture. During his schooling, Shaps worked for Maison Chartron and Trebuchet in Puligny Montrachet, and after receiving his diploma in 1991, he continued to work there for an additional year before returning to the United States.
In 1995 he moved to Charlottesville, Virginia to take on the position of winemaker at Jefferson Vineyards for six vintages. With the 2000 vintage, Shaps produced his first wines under his own label, “Michael Shaps” Viognier and “Michael Shaps” Merlot, from grapes grown at King Family Vineyards in Crozet. The initial release of his wines drew acclaim regionally: the Viognier was quoted in the Washingtonian as a “lavish white [that] shows that Virginia can make world-class Viognier.” In 2007 Saveur proclaimed “It may well be America’s best.” In 2004 Shaps won the coveted Virginia Governor’s Cup for his 2002 Cabernet Franc and his wines continue to earn gold medals every year at this highly competitive wine competition. Michael’s wines have been consistently highly recommended by Decanter, The wine Enthusiast and the Wine Advocate over the past 17 years.
In 2004 Shaps’ dream of returning to Burgundy was fulfilled. Maison Michael Shaps in Meursault produces small lots of white and red Burgundies from leased vineyards in the Cote d’Or. The focus is on producing world class Burgundy wines that reflect the soil, climate, beauty and traditions of the Burgundian region.
Michael is focused on all of his vineyard leases whether in Burgundy or Virginia and spends a great deal of his time working with his growers. He believes that the wine is made in the vineyard and the wine quality and success of his wines are a result of the efforts to grow the best grapes possible.