Educating Sommeliers Worldwide.
By Beverage Trade Network
Michael Juergens -a southern California native, is a 49-year-old bearded, tattooed wine lover, and partner in a global consulting firm - while running the first international marathon in the Kingdom of Bhutan around February 2016 - passed steep, terraced hillsides and fields, and thought that the place was ideal for growing grapevines.
When Michael put the question about the country’s vineyards in front of a couple of senior government officials at the celebratory dinner for the top runners, they said there were none. That, he says now, was the beginning of his wine adventure in the Himalayan hills of Bhutan. Michael ended up inventing an industry from scratch and most likely started a new era in a remote kingdom.
“The vast majority of wine industry people I talked to said “You're crazy,” Michael stated.
Jumping to April 2019 - when Michael and his team of workers started planting the first several vineyards in the country on a total of six acres - with first harvest due in 2020. Among them, Yusipang is at an elevation of 8,900 feet, with views of forests and Himalayan peaks. Eventually, Michael hopes that the grapes will go into wines under the Thunder Dragon label.
“Not everything we planted will work," Michael admits. “But we’re not going to make plonk. We want our wines to sell for $150 and be poured at places like Le Bernardin.”