JEFF KUNDE - KUNDE FAMILY WINERY
For over a century, five generations of the Kunde Family have farmed our 1,850 acre-estate in the heart of Sonoma Valley—a truly remarkable legacy in the modern age of California winemaking. A fervent, forward-thinking vision of land stewardship and sustainability began over one hundred years ago, and has been shaped with each successive generation.
Today, Kunde Family Winery is still family owned and operated with a hands-on team of 4th and 5th generation family members at the helm. At the end of the day, every decision we make, every wine we craft, and every experience we provide honors the legacy of founder Louis Kunde, who emigrated from Germany and purchased the original Wildwood Vineyards ranch at the turn of the century in 1904. Cresting the second century was a profound milestone for the family. Moving forward, we remain committed to innovation and state-of-the-art facilities, while also maintaining a deep, personal commitment to sustainable winegrowing and preserving the land for generations to come.
GREG BREWER - FOUNDER, WINEMAKER, BREWER CLIFTON WINERY
Over 20 years ago two young aspiring winemakers met, each bringing a vision and a drive to produce world-class wine. Focusing on the Burgundian roots of pinot noir and chardonnay, they paid homage to France. They were keen on making their own footprint and forging a style that was uniquely Californian. The wines embrace the power, pedigree and richness of the Sta. Rita Hills, that has become the trademark of Brewer–Clifton.
In 1995, Greg Brewer and Steve Clifton met while working on a committee meeting for the Santa Barbara Vintners’ Association. At the time both held production jobs at Sunstone and Beckmen, respectively, and forged an immediate friendship that would ultimately germinate in the creation of Brewer-Clifton just one year later.
Saving modest disposable income over a period of twelve months, $12,000 was set aside and fruit contracts secured to produce an inaugural 240 cases of wine within Santa Barbara Winery where Greg held the role of assistant winemaker in 1996. Always having their sights locked on an area that they would personally later map and define as the Sta. Rita Hills, they utilized relationships in the neighboring Santa Maria Valley for the majority of their fruit as vineyards were being developed closer to home. One exception to that adjacent provenance was Sweeney Canyon which Brewer-Clifton produced without interruption from 1996 through 2011.
When considering a logo and label, a priority was something that would not run the risk of being dated and that could remain timeless. The Wine Cask restaurant in Santa Barbara was an incubator for food and wine professionals during that time, and the hand stenciled gold ceiling of the dining room proved to be an ideal and subtle reference to carry through that message of tradition and region. A few exposures with a disposable camera then developed, photocopied and colored in with a black Sharpie pen and the brand took flight..
After brief periods being housed within other wineries of employ, Brewer-Clifton created their first stand alone facility in what would become Lompoc’s “Wine Ghetto” in 2000. Nestled immediately between the local legend Rick Longoria and the upstart Sea Smoke, Y2K was a pivotal impasse both for B-C and Sta. Rita Hills which was identified and approved as an American Viticultural Area (AVA) that same year.
Fueled by unbridled confidence and unprecedented media attention, Brewer-Clifton swiftly sought to better secure vineyard provenance which gave birth to their farming company shepherded by Francisco Ramirez in 2005. Greg and Francisco developed, planted and built Melville vineyard and winery in the mid 1990s and the decade working together there fostered the elite vineyard team that would eventually create Brewer-Clifton’s estate vineyards, which now includes sixty acres across four separate parcels within the AVA.
2012 marked the first vintage where all the fruit produced hailed from estate vineyards within appellation. That year The Wine Spectator deemed the 2012 Sta. Rita Hills Pinot Noir as the #8 Wine of the Year, picked from all the wines submitted to the publication from the entire world.
In 2017, Brewer-Clifton joined Jackson Family Wines, a company equally committed to singular, site-specific, Chardonnay and Pinot Noir. Greg Brewer notes, “The Jackson family maintains a commitment to world-class wines, a respect for nature and vision for uncompromising quality that’s very much aligned with our philosophy, I’m confident our collective strengths will further propel the Sta. Rita Hills on the global stage of fine wines.