Robert E. Brittan
A veteran of the wine industry since the early 1970s, Robert Brittan began making wine in his dorm room while he attended Oregon State University. He began his professional winemaking career in the Central Valley of California and after several years of work experience went back to school to earn an enology degree at the University of California at Davis. After graduating from UC Davis, Robert moved to the Napa Valley, where he made wines for Far Niente Winery, St. Andrews Vineyard and Stags’ Leap Winery. He has also served as a viticulture/ winemaking consultant for projects in Oregon, New York and Texas, as well as in British Columbia and France. To study the origins of his favorite varietals, Pinot Noir, Chardonnay and Syrah, he has visited Burgundy and the Northern Rhone numerous times.
While working in Napa Valley, Brittan also owned and farmed his own vineyards, growing Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Syrah and Chardonnay that he sold to top Napa Producers. During this period he made small amounts of Pinot Noir and Chardonnay under his own label.
When Brittan joined Stags’ Leap Winery in 1988, he was tasked with restoring the 19th Century estate. To match the terroir and preserve the distinct individuality of wines made from this site, he conducted extensive research into the genealogy of the vines and the geology of the property. To accomplish this he worked with UC Davis biotechnology and genetics researcher Dr. Carol Meredith on DNA profiling techniques to meticulously replant this historic vineyard. Combined with the studies he conducted on Pinot Noir and Chardonnay while at St. Andrews, Brittan is recognized as an expert on the use of varietal selection to create site-specific wines.
In 2004, Robert left Stags’ Leap to pursue his lifelong dream of focusing on making Pinot Noir and Syrah from unique sites in cooler climates. In December of that year he purchased 128 acres in Oregon’s Willamette Valley, where he is growing Pinot Noir and Syrah for his own label, Brittan Vineyards, and acting as consulting winemaker for Winderlea®. Robert brings to these projects his 30-plus years of winemaking and viticultural experience, along with an undying passion for balanced and elegant wines that express a unique sense of place.