A veteran of the wine industry since the early 1970s, I began making wine in my dorm room while I attended Oregon State University. I began my 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, I moved to the Napa Valley, where I made wines for Far Niente Winery, St. Andrews Vineyard and Stags’ Leap Winery. I has also served as a viticulture/ winemaking consultant for projects in Oregon, New York, Texas, British Columbia and France. To study the origins of my favorite varietals, Pinot Noir, Chardonnay and Syrah, I have been fortunate to visit Burgundy and the Northern Rhone numerous times.
While working in Napa Valley, I also owned and farmed my own vineyards, growing Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Syrah and Chardonnay that I was able to sell to top Napa producers. During this period I made small amounts of Pinot Noir and Chardonnay under my own label.
When I joined Stags’ Leap Winery in 1988, I was tasked with restoring the 19th Century estate. To match the terroir and preserve the distinct individuality of wines made from this site, I conducted extensive research into the genealogy of the vines and the geology of the property. To accomplish this I worked with UC Davis biotechnology and genetics researcher Dr. Carol Meredith on DNA profiling techniques to meticulously replant this historic vineyard.
In 2004, I left Stags’ Leap to pursue my lifelong dream of focusing on Pinot Noir and Syrah from unique sites in cooler climates. In December of that year I purchased 128 acres in Oregon’s Willamette Valley, where I am growing Pinot Noir and Syrah for my own label, Brittan Vineyards, and acting as consulting winemaker for Winderlea. I am fortunate have 30-plus years of winemaking and viticultural experience, bolstered by an undying passion for balanced and elegant wines that express a unique sense of place.