Four to Watch

"An acclaimed winemaking couple taking over the cult wine of all cult wines. A vintner whose wines are hard to identify due to understated labels. A winemaker with an affinity for jazz and no winery to call home. A winemaking pair connected to the rock n' roll world. These vintners are making wines that may be hard to find, but are definitely worth the search......

.....Branham Estate Wines

Gary Branham likes the rhythm and seasonality of winemaking, from pruning and irrigating to harvesting and improvising final blends. Maybe that's why he named the largest of his small-lot wines Jazz. "This quartet of Zinfandel, Petite Sirah, Cabernet Sauvignon, and Syrah changes every vintage," he says. "When I found original art for the logo, I discovered the artist is a jazz musician-serendipity all around."

Maybe it's serendipity, or perhaps a keen appreciation of agriculture that has led Branham to discover outstanding vineyards. In 1989, before Rockpile became the sexiest new appellation on the block, Branham purchased 240 acres in the northwest Sonoma hills. Since 1994, handcrafted Branham Rockpile Zinfandel has become known for its juicy ripeness with a tannic finish.

But the seasoned winemaker, who has worked in Australia, New Zealand, Santa Clara, and Healdsburg, also likes Napa fruit and bought the Obsidian Vineyard near the Silverado Trail. Branham Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon is garnering fans in California and six other states.

Branham would like his own winery. But for now, he says, "I'm fulfilling my dream of having my own brand. I want people to try my wines and say, 'These are good wines at a fair price, serious but fun to drink.' "

You can order Branham wines at Press in St. Helena, Brannan's in Calistoga, Langley's on the Green in Windsor, Dry Creek Kitchen in Healdsburg, Mosaic in Forestville, Chateau Marmont in L.A., and Boa Steakhouse in Santa Monica. Buy the wines at Russian River Wine Co. and 34 North in Healdsburg, Oakville Grocery, and JV Wine & Spirits in Napa.".....

Deborah Grossman
Napa/Sonoma Magazine
Fall 2006/Winter 2007

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