Curious about what best to pair with an obscure Nero d'Avola from Sicily? An avid fan of Riojas and seeking a rare label or great bargain? Or a Rombauer Chardonnay drinker, but thinking about expanding your palate? Talk to Michael Guerra.
Michael “Mike” Guerra is co-owner and wine 'négociant' of Enoteca La Storia, and oversees the selection of all retail, by-the-glass, and club wines. Mike, who is 100% Calabrese, and a third-generation San Jose native, comes from a family rich in tradition and history in the food, wine and hospitality business. For more than thirty years, Mike's paternal great-grandfather, Joe Guerra, owned and operated a grocery store in San Jose. On Mike’s maternal side, a passion for food sales and service prevailed as well. Mike's maternal grandparents (Fortino) owned and operated Villa Pace, in Hollister, California. Villa Pace was a landmark Italian restaurant still fondly remembered for the quality of its authentic Italian food and unparalleled hospitality.
Family connections aside, Mike's transition into wine was not a traditional one. While attending Santa Clara University, Mike traveled abroad to study for one year in Rome, Italy—a trip that he claims ignited his passion for wine. It wasn't until years later, however, that Mike made his passion his career. First, Mike earned a Master’s Degree in Social Welfare from UC Berkeley, and, after completing a post-Master's Clinical Fellowship at the Yale University Child Study Center in New Haven, Connecticut, he moved back to the Berkeley area when he accepted a position working as a Mental Health Clinician for the Solano County Mental Health Department. During this time, Mike took several wine courses through UC Berkeley Extension and frequented many of the specialty wine shops in the area, including Kermit Lynch Wine Merchant.
It wasn't until after working as a socialworker from 1992 to 1999 that Mike decided to officially pursue his interest in wine by taking a sales position at The Wine Club Santa Clara, the premiere wine shop of its time, in the Santa Clara Valley. Mike next took a sales position at K & L Wine Merchants in Redwood City, where he ended up serving as the Assistant Italian Wine Buyer. Eventually, Mike was approached by investors to help found Vintage Wine Merchants in San Jose.
Mike’s knowledge of international and domestic wines, and understanding of Italian and other cuisines, informs his work in a variety of wine endeavors: developing food pairing programs, organizing and leading wine education events, and managing private and corporate tasting functions. Mike has been featured in articles in the San Jose Business Journal and San Jose Magazine and interviewed for segments on "In Wine Country," and two different episodes on KRON-TV.
In particular, Mike is intrigued by the classic wine regions of Europe, and he shares this sincere desire to expand customer's awareness and exposure to lesser-known, international varietals and labels in his work at Enoteca La Storia. But even more importantly, Michael is known among customers for his low-key, approachable attitude about wine.
Mike is excited and proud to revive and carry forward family and cultural traditions by combining his "old world" sensibilities with his education and wine industry experience to create a casual, unique and authentic place for people to gather and enjoy interesting wine, delicious food and lively conversation.