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California’s Presqu’ile Winery is a family affair with deep Arkansas roots. I had a chance to talk with Matt Murphy, president of Presqu’ile, about the new venture.

The Murphy family, long associated with oil, is now channeling a lifelong passion into a truly family-run winery, with Matt’s wife, Amanda, parents Madison and Suzanne and siblings Jonathan and Anna all sharing in the fervor.

The winery is named after a family home on the Mississippi Gulf Coast. Presqu’ile (pronounced press–KEEL) means “almost an island” in Creole, and Matt Murphy remembers spending almost every summer there while he was growing up. It is a place he connects with fond family memories. Sadly, Hurricane Katrina destroyed the property and most of the surrounding community in 2005. They continued the legacy in naming the winery in honor of the family estate.

The 200-acre winery is on California’s central coast, an ideal location for growing pinot noir, a wine the family shares a passion for. At the time of purchase, there were already 10 acres planted, and the family has continued to expand with 75 acres planted to date. When I asked about the state-of-the-art winery, Murphy’s witty response was, “we are making wine in a barn” — at least until the new winery is completed over the next couple of years. A tasting room is also under construction.

For any new winery, setting itself apart is the key to success. Murphy believes “producing world-class wines at a world-class value” is what wine consumers are searching for. By starting with some 2,000 cases produced, the emphasis is on handcrafted wines. Part of the winery’s distinction is that the wines are competing in quality with countless wineries selling wines for double the price.


  • 2008 Presqu’ile Winery Sauvignon Blanc, California (about $22 retail)


  • 2008 Presqu’ile Winery Pinot Noir, California (about $45 retail)
  • 2008 Presqu’ile Winery Chardonnay, California (about $35 retail)