News & Updates

Michael Klauber Is a Wine Impresario

 Tracing the career of the person who has probably done more to promote fine wine in Sarasota than anyone else.

Few individuals in Sarasota have done as much to promote wine and gastronomy as Michael Klauber. In fact, I can't think of any.

Since 1987, Klauber has built Michael's on East into a pinnacle of fine dining. Upon arriving here nearly a decade ago, my first goal was to visit Michael's, because, in the wine world, its fame reached far beyond Sarasota. I was not disappointed. The warm, inviting atmosphere, the professional service, inviting ambience, extensive wine selections and extraordinary cuisine make Michael's a destination for any wine lover. I have returned many times, as have numerous friends.

My first encounter with Klauber was at his family's Colony Beach Resort. He was the food and wine director and helped the establishment win the coveted Grand Award from Wine Spectator. He had studied management training at Cornell and cut his chops as wine buyer at Arnaud's Restaurant in New Orleans.

From his early days, Klauber was a proponent of American wine and that has now expanded to an envious collection of the finest wines in the world. At a recent wine dinner for Daou Vineyards at Michael's Wine Cellar, the newly svelte Klauber described the early days when he traveled to wineries to convince them to enter the Florida market and even helped arrange distribution. These travels resulted in long-term relationships with the finest wine producers in this country and abroad. As a result, these wine dinners, along with the Wine Cellar Social Club, demonstrate the efforts Klauber takes to promote his restaurant, his wine store and, always, wine.

When the Covid-19 pandemic hit in 2020 and in-house dining ceased, Michael's was one of the first restaurants to offer curbside pickup and then delivery. The most creative part of the package was the wine offered with the meal. The Wine Cellar Social Club soon followed with in-person wine tastings, accompanied with food and hosted by a winery or distributor representative. These remain in progress twice a month at Michael's Wine Cellar.

Recently, Michael's catering arm, under the direction of co-proprietor, Phil Mancini, created a significant presence at Marie Selby Botanical Gardens and Selby at Spanish Point. And through his Gulf Coast Connoisseur Club, Klauber offers points for dining, special wine offers and trips to international wine regions such as South Africa and New Zealand. At these destinations, guests not only absorb the local wine and cuisine, but Klauber's culinary staff bring ideas and recipes back to the restaurant for more unique presentations. In addition, he arranges a monthly feature on the cuisine of a country. Recently, it was Cuba. In October, it was Germany for Oktoberfest.

Not satisfied with the success of his restaurant and wine store, Michel co-founded local wine social entities such as Chaine des Rotisseurs, La Confrerie des Chevaliers du Tastevin and the Commanderie de Bordeaux. In addition, he was the original founder of the Florida Winefest and Forks & Corks Food and Wine Festival. He was also co-founder of a marketing group for local independent restaurants called the Sarasota-Manatee Originals. Perseverance and commitment have paid off and created wonderful experiences for this community.

What's next? Perhaps another Grand Award.

Article written by Bob McGinn of Sarasota Magazine. Bob McGinn has spent his entire career in the wine industry—forming wine clubs, working in wine sales marketing and engaging in all facets of the winemaking process, including vine management, fermentation and yeast analysis. He has developed wine programs for companies such as Marriott, Sheraton and Smith & Wollensky, and consults with local restaurants. You can read more of McGinn's work at gulfcoastwinejournal.com.

Holiday Wine Packs

Looking for a holiday gift for a wine lover, or a way to say thank you to clients or a business referrer? We've got you covered with 8 different 3- and 2-bottle wine packages selected by our own "Wine Impresario" – Michael Klauber! These are all world-class wineries, are all specially-priced, and each of the wines have scored 90 points or higher!

Holiday Wine Packs

High End Cabs – Time to Spruce Things Up!

Cabernet Sauvignon, Caymus, Napa Valley, CA, 2019

Wine Spectator: 92 points - A rich, showy style, with a very creamy texture to its mix of warmed vanilla, plum and boysenberry puree, and melted black licorice flavors. A mocha note swirls around the fruit on the finish.

Cabernet Sauvignon, Far Niente, Napa Valley, CA, 2018

Wine Enthusiast: 95 points - This memorable Cabernet Sauvignon has small amounts of Petit Verdot, Cabernet Franc, Merlot and Malbec blended in. Aged 17 months in a majority of new French oak, it unfurls flavors of red fruit, dried herb and clove over a core of youthful tannin and spicy oak.

Cabernet Sauvignon, Jordan, Alexander Valley, CA, 2016

Wine Enthusiast: 92 points - Showing an elegant structure, this historic wine is well integrated in terms of tannin and soft, supportive oak. Dried herb and clove mark the midpalate, adding seasoning and complex character to the currant core.


Cabs – Catch a Cab

Cabernet Sauvignon "Artemis", Stag's Leap Wine Cellars, Napa Valley, CA, 2018

Wine Enthusiast: 92 points - From a blend of beautiful sites across the valley, including Arcadia Vineyard in Coombsville and Rancho Chimiles in Wooden Valley, as well as small amounts of grapes from S.L.V. and Fay, this wine is inviting in dense aromas of red fruit, caramel and brioche. With dashes of Petit Verdot and Malbec, it finishes on accents of tobacco and cedar.

Cabernet Sauvignon, Chateau Montelena, Napa Valley, CA, 2018

Wine Enthusiast: 93 Points: Dark garnet, nearly violet in the glass, the aromatic intensity of this wine is irresistible. Fresh berries and dried cherries comingle with bergamot, lavender, mint, gunpowder, and sage without a single element dominating another.

Cabernet Sauvignon "Lyndenhurst", Spottswoode, Napa Valley, CA, 2018

James Suckling: 93 points - A complex and inviting Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon suggesting notes of raw fresh blackberries, crushed graphite, cassis, baking spices, and cocoa powder. Fine tannins provide savory structure, while floral notes of violets and laurel perfume the glass.


French Whites

Sancerre, Domaine Vincent Delaporte, Loire Valley, FR, 2019

Wine Spectator: 91 points - Pale gold with green hints. Very expressive, intense, and complex nose with boxwood, rhubarb, blackcurrant, kiwi fragrances, and a light vegetal touch (marigold). The entry is soft and round—bright freshness on the palate, delicate and lively purity. Well balanced and harmonious, it ends with a clean lingering finish.

Chablis "Saint Martin", Domaine Laroche, FR, 2018

Wine Enthusiast: 92 Points - A vintage that reveals the limestone and the singularity of the terroirs of Chablis. Reflections of a brilliant pale yellow. The nose opens on notes of chalk, white flowers and fresh apple. Fermentation takes place partially in 30-year-old oak bringing subtle and complex notes of fresh undergrowth and cedar. Minerality on the palate with a long and saline finish.

Pouilly-Fuissé, Domaine du Roc des Boutires, Burgundy, FR, 2018

Wine Spectator: 94 points - A bright, vibrant color with hints of yellow and gold. Aromas of peach and honey fill the nose. The wine's acidity is well balanced with citrus notes of lime and orange peel adding layers of flavor.


California Chards – "Deck the Halls with Chardonnay!"

Chardonnay, Cakebread Cellars, Napa Valley, CA, 2019

Wine Enthusiast: 90 Points - This wine opens with aromas of ripe golden apple, white peach, and notes of oak. On the palate, apple and pear characters are balanced by fresh acidity, and the finish is clean, with appealing mineral notes. This is a versatile food-pairing wine—enjoy love it with fresh salads, grilled scallops, and nearly any selection of cheeses.

Chardonnay, Far Niente, Napa Valley, CA 2019

Wine Spectator: 94 pointsClassically beautiful, the 2019 vintage opens with aromas of honeysuckle, white peach blossom and citrus zest, along with soft accents of vanilla. Silky stone fruit, lemon curd and honeydew flavors flow across the round, full palate, with lightly toasted oak, cool minerality and a lingering citrus note adding texture and depth. From its alluring perfume and pure fruit flavors to the graceful finish, this elegant Napa Valley Chardonnay captivates the senses.

Chardonnay, Rombauer Vineyards, Carneros, CA, 2019

James Suckling: 90 pointsPale light yellow with a green hue. Aromas of ripe peach, honeydew, and lemon rind intertwine seamlessly with vanilla and spice. The aromas are followed by flavors of lychee and yellow peach which meld perfectly with the cream texture, vanilla and slight butter. The finish builds with more peach and spice, while the acidity maintains the freshness and structure. The wine will continue to gain weight and depth over the next 12 months, revealing additional notes of nectarine, butter and spice.


Very Merry Paso Robles 2-Pack

Cabernet Sauvignon "Isosceles", Justin Vineyards, Paso Robles, CA, 2017

Wine Advocate: 90 points - Full-bodied, with ripe black fruit, complex barrel spice and amazingly ready to drink right out of the gate, you can try a bottle or two now, but make sure to save a few to enjoy this wine as it continues to evolve after some time in the cellar.

Cabernet Sauvignon, Austin Hope, Paso Robles, CA, 2019

Wine Advocate: 95 points - Deep ruby in color, Austin Hope Cabernet Sauvignon expresses aromas of fresh black currants and cherries accompanied by subtle smoky notes and dried spices. On the palate, this lavish powerful wine is layered with juicy blackberry, ripe cherry, vanilla bean, and brown butter. It's full-bodied and rich, balanced by a touch of bright acidity and firm polished tannins.


Tis the Season for Red Rhones!

Chateauneuf-du-Pape, Domaine de la Charbonniere, FR, 2018

Robert Parker: 94 pointsThis wine showcases the purity of the fruit that comes straightforward to the nose. Medium-bodied wine with a silky texture and ripe tannins. This wine is what any Chateauneuf lovers expect in a classic wine: dark color, racy, silky tannins and freshness This wine has a generous fruity nose: red fruits, violet, licorice that will match very well with French cuisine and also any meat lovers dishes.

Red Blend, The Prisoner, Napa Valley, CA, 2019

Wine.com: 92 points - Features enticing aromas of Bing cherry, dark chocolate, clove, and roasted fig. Persistent flavors of ripe raspberry, boysenberry, pomegranate, and vanilla linger harmoniously for a smooth and luscious finish.

Zinfandel, Rombauer Vineyards, Napa Valley, CA, 2019 

Jeb Dunnuck: 91 points - When poured, this classic California Zinfandel is a purple-ruby color with a bright crimson hue. On the nose, there are concentrated aromas of dried cherries that meld with warm vanilla, mocha, and mulling spices. Lush flavors of ripe plum and raspberry jam flood the palate, followed by touches of dark chocolate in the background. subtle and round tannins and length for a fresh and enticing finish.


Italian Reds

Chianti Classico DOCG "Riserva", Castello di Volpaia, Tuscany, IT, 2018

Wine Enthusiast: 93 points - The Chianti Classico Riserva has a ruby-red hue with a trace of garnet. The nose is elegant, displaying hints of spice and fruit. This is a well-structured wine with smooth tannins and a long finish.

Brunello di Montalcino, Caparzo, Tuscany, IT, 2016

Wine Spectator 96: points - Ruby red wine color, tending toward garnet with age, this wine offers complex, penetrating aromas of wild berry fruit. On the palate, it is dry, firm, harmonious and delicate. Great with roasts, grilled and spit-roasted meats, game, braised meats and aged cheeses.

Barolo, Domenico Clerico, Piedmont, IT, 2017

James Suckling: 93 points - Domenico Clerico's best vineyards in Monforte d'Alba collected together in a great Barolo. Year after year the expression of our joys and efforts. Aromas of dried-fruit, spice, and cedar. The palate is full-bodied, focused and intense with a long and chewy finish.


Champagne – "Joy to the Bubbles!"

Champagne "Special Cuvée Brut", Bollinger, NV

Wine Spectator: 93 pointsA golden color, distinctive of black grape varieties. Very fine bubbles. On the nose, it has a beautiful aromatic complexity, ripe fruit, and spicy aromas, with hints of roasted apples, apple compote, and peaches. On the palate, there is a subtle combination of structure, length, and vivacity. The bubbles are like velvet. Flavors of pear, brioche and spicy aromas, notes of fresh walnut.

Champagne "Yellow Label", Veuve Clicquot, FR, NV

Wine Enthusiast: 90 pointsOne of the most popular of all Champagnes, this is now showing a freshness that wasn't always there. The crisp texture and green-apple flavors give it an immediate drinkability as well as perfumed acidity and a vibrant aftertaste.

Champagne "Cuvée Rosé", Laurent Perrier, FR, NV

Wine Enthusiast: 94 points - Intensely fruity flavors, clean and slightly sharp, the wine opens to the sensation of freshly picked red berries: strawberries, Morello cherries, black currants and raspberries. The finish is supple and rounded.


The Best Champagnes for New Years Eve

6 bottles of bubbly you must stock up on for NYE, hand-picked by "Wine Impresario" Michael Klauber.

Did you know that 25% of Champagne is sold between Christmas and New Years Eve world-wide? It can be hard to choose the perfect bottle for the occasion with all the different brands! To help guide your Champagne shopping this year, I'm sharing my top 6 favorite bottles of bubbly that are sure to send 2021 out in style!

The Best Champagnes for New Years Eve

Sparkling Brut Rosé, Graham Beck, Western Cape, South Africa

One of our favorite Sparkling Wines (and some of the best values) come from South Africa and Graham Beck Winery. Our longtime friend Pieter Ferreira is the winemaster there and is known as "Mr. Bubbles" worldwide! Pieter has joined us on safari at Londolozi Game Reserve and for events in Sarasota. We were lucky to have a wonderful visit to the winery with Pieter and his wife in Robertson, South Africa.

Tasting Notes: Pale silver-pink. Aromas of raspberries, cherries and a few secondary whiffs of minerality. A lively mousse and fine in the mouth, with subtle red berry flavors enlivened by bright acids. Brisk on the palate, showing hints of oyster shell and fresh lavender. Flirtatious and fun, yet elegant and structured, it's perfect for all seasons and settings. Decanter: 91 Points


Sparkling "Blanc de Blancs", Graham Beck, Western Cape, South Africa

Tasting Notes: Pale silver-pink. Aromas of raspberries, cherries and a few secondary whiffs of minerality. A lively mousse and fine in the mouth, with subtle red berry flavors enlivened by bright acids. Brisk on the palate, showing hints of oyster shell and fresh lavender. Flirtatious and fun, yet elegant and structured, it's perfect for all seasons and settings. Decanter: 91 Points


Sparkling "Blanc de Blancs", Schramsberg, Napa Valley, California

If we are thinking California, we have to look to the true pioneers of making Sparkling Wine in Napa Valley – Jack and Jamie Davies. In 1965, they established Schramsberg as a sparkling wine estate on the property initially founded in 1862 by German immigrant Jacob Schram. Theirs was the first California winery to produce a Blanc de Blancs. Now their son Hugh Davies, born the same year the Davies arrived at Schramsberg, leads the winery's management and winemaking team. Fun Fact: Every presidential administration from 1972 to 2017 has served Schramsberg's sparkling wines during official functions!

Tasting Notes: The Blanc de Blancs has bright and fresh aromas of grapefruit, lime, green apple and white apricot. The fragrance of fruit is complemented with hints of yeast, white flowers, spicy ginger and fresh honeycomb. Wine Spectator: 93 Points


Champagne " La Cuvée Brut", Laurent-Perrier, France

Our favorite Champagne for special occasions at our house is the Cuvée Rosé from Laurent-Perrier. It goes beautifully with a meal as well as a celebration toast. It is the most recognized rosé Champagne in the world. Held in an elegant bottle inspired by King Henri IV, it has been widely acknowledged for its consistent high quality for more than 40 years, and it is the benchmark for Rosé Champagne around the world.

Tasting Notes: Intensely fruity flavors, clean and slightly sharp, the wine opens to the sensation of freshly picked red berries: strawberries, Morello cherries, black currants and raspberries. The finish is supple and rounded. Wine Advocate: 93 Points


Champagne "Grand Reserve", Gosset, France

Stepping away  from your usual suspects, our go-to non-vintage Brut is Champagne Gosset! Founded in 1584, Gosset is the oldest wine house in Champagne. For more than four centuries, the preservation of style, elegance, and family traditions in the making of Gosset Champagne has been paramount. An impressive reason for their reputa­tion for high quality is that they source their grapes entirely from classified premier cru and grand cru vineyards - a rare occurrence!

Tasting Notes: The color is bright and golden, the nose open and expressive, and the palate is dominated by a refreshing mineral tension. This Champagne is the perfect accompaniment to mild and subtly spiced dishes with cooked fruit, sweet/savory dishes or tajines. The Grande Réserve Brut is adaptable by nature — from apéritif to dessert. Wine Spectator: 94 Points


Prosecco "Brut" DOC, Bisol Desiderio Jeio, Italy

One of the best sparkling wines to enjoy in our warm Sarasota weather is Prosecco. The "darling" of the winepress these days, we worked hard to find a small family-owned producer who stands for quality and value. Jeio is the fruit of two interwoven love stories. The first is that of generations of the Bisol family who have faithfully cared for their vineyards. And within this same family, there is the love of a wife who affectionately gave her husband Desiderio Bisol the nickname "Jeio".  Jeio is a regular visitor to Sarasota for the Forks and Corks Food and Wine Festival!

Tasting Notes: Brilliant straw yellow color; mousse extremely fine and lively. Intense and fresh nose of citrus fruits and saline sensations. Fruit-forward, a refreshing sip! James Suckling: 92 Points


 We hope these recommendations have helped you decide on the best bottle of bubbly to celebrate with this year! Our best to you this holiday season, and Happy New Year! Cheers!

Sarasota Herald Tribune: Restaurant News: Michael’s on East in Sarasota on responding to pandemic

Article by Jimmy Geurts from the Sarasota Herald-Tribune 

In numerous ways, Michael's on East has been at the forefront of how Sarasota restaurants have responded to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Shortly before Gov. Ron DeSantis ordered Florida restaurants closed except for to-go on March 20, the restaurant launched a Michael's at Home takeout and delivery program. When restaurants could reopen in May, Michael's on East was among the first locally to disclose an employee had tested positive for COVID-19, voluntarily closing for two weeks before reopening with enhanced safety measures. And recently, it became the first Sarasota restaurant to receive a Seal of Commitment from Florida Restaurant & Lodging Association for safety and sanitation standards.

Currently open for dine-in as well as takeout and delivery, Michael's on East has become one of Sarasota's best-known restaurants since opening in 1987, regularly receiving AAA Four Diamond designation. The business also includes Michael's Events & Catering and retail store Michael's Wine Cellar.

In an Aug. 5 phone interview, Michael's on East co-proprietor Michael Klauber discussed the restaurant's response to the pandemic.

What is Michael's on East doing currently?

Right now, the restaurant is open Tuesday through Saturday for dinner, curbside pickup and delivery. Our catering division is doing events as requested, wherever that may be. We've been really focusing on smaller events that are distanced properly. There's people that are still wanting to get married or have a special birthday, and so we have multiple locations where we can do those kinds of small events. Then our wine and spirits store is open Monday through Saturday from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m., and that does in-store, curbside and delivery. 

What does the restaurant's dine-in setup look like?

We're following all of the rules, as far as the 50% rule and more. Our restaurant, tables were well spaced to begin with. So getting the six-foot rule required us taking out a few tables, but not as many as you'd think, because we were very well spaced already. Our bar and lounge are definitely at half seating. So the restaurant is running as normal, but our protocols are on the most conservative side of safety.

What has the customer response been?

People are thrilled to come in and they've missed it. We hear constantly that they feel that we're a safe place for them to come eat. Many of them, we hear it's their first time dining out since this all started. So we're really working hard through that commitment to sanitation. That's why we were the first ones to get the certification and award from the Florida Restaurant & Lodging Association for our sanitation protocols just a couple of weeks ago.

Besides the social distancing, what are you doing in terms of safety and sanitation?

People can pay their checks touchlessly using their phones now, we've got a great system in for that. Our staff is checked on the way in and questioned every day, and it's logged. We've been fogging the restaurant using a ULV fogging system from Gorilla Kleen once a month. We steam-clean the kitchen floors and all that; that already happened every night. Staff wear masks and gloves. In fact, we have a great system where instead of just one server, there's a team of two. One handles with white sanitation gloves everything that's clean, brings the food out, drinks and all that, takes the order. The second person is wearing black gloves and a burgundy vest and they handle all the soiled materials. So that's worked out actually really well and has helped keep it super-safe in the dining room for our guests.

What are you offering in terms of takeout and other options for those who still don't feel comfortable doing dine-in yet?

There's a menu that's updated on a fairly regular basis for curbside pickup and takeout. We had to pivot quickly and created Michael's at Home, built out a website very quickly to be able to do that. So guests can order full meals, we have three-course meals that they can order as a package. We have a great selection of bottles of wine, liquor and beer that can be added to the orders. The fun of it has been seeing people getting dressed up, setting their tables with candles, having us deliver the food touchless and then taking pictures of their setup at home pretending they're at Michael's on East — having dinner, but still having their date night.

So you're still doing delivery as well?

Yeah, one of the things that was really great for us is we have a fantastic valet team already on staff. So we've been able to do all of our delivery using our own staff instead of any of the third-party services. Our valets are super professional and they're loving it, and it allowed us to keep more people on payroll.

You disclosed when you had an employee test positive for COVID-19. What procedures are you taking to prevent that as much as you can from occurring again?

Our rules are very, very strict as far as the protocol if a staff member came in contact with another person. As I said, they're checked every day when they come in for their temperature. If they felt sick, obviously we tell them to stay home. If someone does become positive, they'll have to go through the CDC protocols and more, including being tested negative twice before returning to the workplace.

What does the staff look like now compared to before the pandemic?

The restaurant team is back to full size; the catering team is shut down. Now there are events still happening, so they're on call. We did get a (Paycheck Protection Program) loan that allowed us to keep everybody, over 100 of our staff, on full pay including gratuities for that eight weeks. Even before that, we still covered everybody's health insurance. But we do have quite a big catering team that is furloughed right now, except for a few that are handling some of the small events that we're still doing.

What has staff morale been like?

Morale has been really positive and supportive. The things that some of our staff have done to go above and beyond with some of the cleaning that we've done, the ideas that they've brought forth, many of them have been incorporated into our sanitation protocols. So we had our staff very involved in developing our procedures, and continue to do that. You'd be surprised with how many of them came up with great ideas that we hadn't thought of, or that they researched online and brought to the table for us.

How would you compare this pandemic to other challenges you may have dealt with over the years, whether that's red tide, recessions or hurricanes?

I started in the business in Sarasota in 1980 when I took over the food and beverage for my dad at The Colony. So 40 years in the business, this is clearly the most challenging situation that I've ever gone through. We've been through hurricanes, we've been through recessions, we've been through red tide, but this is clearly the most challenging, and lengthiest challenge, that we've had. But we'll get through this if we work together. I've been very involved with the Sarasota-Manatee Originals, which is 60 independent restaurants in Sarasota and Manatee counties, and we're working really hard to help a lot of the small independent restaurants survive in what's a very, very challenging time. We want them all to make it, we want them all to survive, and we're looking forward to seeing what our new normal brings. 

1283 S. Tamiami Trail
Sarasota, FL 34239
1212 East Ave. S.
Sarasota, FL 34239
1259 S. Tamiami Trail
Sarasota, FL 34239