|Owner(s)||Deborah Brown, Ken Brown|
|Link to this site|
Ken Brown is one of Santa Barbara County’s originals. He has been crafting wine in the area since 1977 and was the founding winemaker at both Zaca Mesa Winery and Byron Winery. Ken was one of the first to realize the potential of Santa Barbara County to produce fine Pinot Noir and Chardonnay. He was also the first to introduce Pinot Noirs relatives, Pinot Gris and Pinot Blanc, and Syrah, to the area. After leaving Byron Winery in 2003, he started his own label specializing in small lot Chardonnay and Pinot Noir. He has downsized considerably, with only himself and his wife, Deborah, running the show, and producing a modest 2,500 cases of wine at Terravant Wine Center in Buellton, CA. Brown still consults for a number of larger labels.
Brown started the Byron label in 1984, sold it to the Robert Mondavi family in 1990 and stayed on as winemaker until 2005. He started the Ken Brown label in 2003, moved into a shared warehouse facility in Lompoc in 2005, and then to Terravant in 2008.
Brown has access to many of Santa Barbara's best Pinot Noir vineyards including Cargassachi, Rancho La Vina, Clos Pepe and Nielson.
Many winemakers have mentored under Ken Brown including Jim Clendenen of Au Bon Climat, Bob Lindquist of Qupe Wine Cellars, Chuck Carlson of Curtis Winery, Lane Tanner of Lane Tanner Winery, Adam Tolmach of Ojai Vineyard, Clay Brock of Wild Horse Winery, and Mike Sinor of Sinor-LaVallee.
Ken Brown Wines are sold through the website and through retail channels. Tasting by appointment at the tasting room at Terravant Wine Center at 70 Industrial Way in Buellton. 805-688-4482.
2013 Ken Brown Santa Barbara County Pinot Noir
14.2% alc., pH 3.71, TA 0.59, 787 cases, $35. A blend of grapes from multiple vineyards in Santa Barbara County with nearly half from Rio Vista Vineyard. 100% de-stemmed, pre-fermentation cold soak, aged 11 months in French oak barrels, 30% new. · Moderately light reddish purple color in the glass. Promiscuous aromas of dark, earthy cherry, red licorice, spice and a hint of smoke are the best feature of this wine. A light to mid weight offering that has enough earthy cherry flavor to satisfy, although the mid palate wants for more intensity. Forward drinking, with modest tannins, a compliment of oak, and a cherry-fueled finish that is not particularly long, but flavorful. Score: 89. Reviewed November 22, 2015 ARTICLE »
2013 Ken Brown Sta. Rita Hills Pinot Noir
14.3% alc., pH 3.68, TA 0.61, 416 cases, $45. 36% Radian Vineyard, 32% Rio Vista Vineyard, 21% Buona Terra Vineyard, and 11% Rita’s Crown Vineyard. 100% destemmed, pre-fermentation cold soak, aged 11 months in French oak barrels, 32% new. · Moderate reddish purple color in the glass. The nose reminds of walking in a recently cultivated field with aromas of earth and mushroom, and a bit of dark cherry and black raspberry. A step up in fruit intensity from the Santa Barbara County bottling, featuring flavors of purple and black fruits and a hint of iron. There is deft oak treatment, the tannins and acidity are well proportioned, and the juicy finish really satisfies. A well composed appellation wine. Score: 90. Reviewed November 22, 2015 ARTICLE »
2013 Ken Brown Rita’s Crown Sta. Rita Hills Pinot Noir
14.7% alc., pH 3.51, TA 0.56, 323 cases, $60. This is one of the highest elevation vineyards in the region at 600 to 950 feet. The soils are shallow and the vines are exposed to coastal fog and ocean winds. Planted in 2007, it has quickly become one of the most highly regarded vineyards in the Sta. Rita Hills AVA. Clones 667, 777 and “828.” · Moderate reddish purple color in the glass. Soaring perfume with an array of dark fruits including black cherry and black raspberry, with a hint of spice and rose petal. Flat-out delicious mid weight plus core of black raspberry and blackberry fruit flavors matched to balanced tannins and juicy acidity. The mid palate attack is eye opening, the seductive mouthfeel is velvety, and the richly endowed finish leaves an impression. A very classy offering from one of Central California’s winemaking icons, and one of the best Pinots I have had from this region in 2015. Score: 94. Reviewed November 22, 2015 ARTICLE »
2012 Ken Brown Santa Barbara County Pinot Noir
14.2% alc., 656 cases, pH 3.71, TA 0.56, $35. Magnums available. Sourced from Rio Vista Vineyard, Garey Vineyard, Nielson Vineyard, Sierra Madre Vineyard and Buena Terra Vineyard. 53% from Santa Maria Valley and 47% from Sta. Rita Hills. · Moderately light reddish-purple color in the glass. Pleasing aromas of black cherries, ripe berries and echoes of oak. Very tasty black cherry core with hints of red hard candy and spice and an earthy undertone. A very approachable mid weight offering with mild tannins and a silky mouth feel. Almost weightless. You won’t find a better AVA blend in the marketplace. Score: 91. Reviewed November 9, 2013 ARTICLE »
2011 Ken Brown Nielson Vineyard Santa Maria Valley Chardonnay
14.2% alc., pH 3.33, TA 0.63, 138 cases, $38. Sourced from replanted vines using cuttings from the original old vines including Wente clone. Ken has worked with this vineyard for more than 30 years. Whole cluster pressed, barrel fermented, 75% malolactic fermentation, aged sur lie 10 months in 17% new French oak barrels. · Light golden yellow color and clear in the glass. I was enchanted with the nose that offered aromas of tropical fruits, pear, buttered brioche and slate. Delicious compliment of lemon, baked pear and apple flavors with the slightest hint of complimentary French oak. The wine really brings you to attention on entry and holds on for a satisfying, acid-driven finish. Very soft in the mouth and appealing now, but has the balance for a long life in the cellar. Score: 94. Reviewed November 9, 2013 ARTICLE »
2011 Ken Brown Nielson Vineyard Santa Maria Valley Pinot Noir
14.1% alc., pH 3.66, TA 0.53, 231 cases, $42. A new vineyard designate from Ken. Sourced from a replanted block (2000) under the direction of Ken Brown in collaboration with the Mondavi family who owned the property at the time. High-density spacing of Dijon clone 115. · Medium reddish-purple color in the glass. Uplifting aromatics of dark cherries and spice with a hint of seasoned oak. Satisfying charge of earth-kissed black cherry fruit on the mid palate with a hint of dried herbs in the background. The tannins are suede-like and dry, the balance is spot on and the finish is replete with black cherry goodness. Nothing is out of place. An excellent cellar candidate. Score: 92. Reviewed November 9, 2013 ARTICLE »
2011 Ken Brown Rita’s Crown Vineyard Sta. Rita Hills Chardonnay
14.3% alc., pH 3.37, TA 0.64, 67 cases, $42. Inaugural bottling from this vineyard, one of the newest in the Sta. Rita Hills AVA (planted in 2007). One of the highest planted vineyards at 600 to 950 feet in the AVA. Soils are sandy loam with ancient seashell deposits. Dijon clone 76. Whole cluster pressed, 100% barrel fermented with 70% malolactic fermentation, and aged sur lie for 11 months in 17% new French oak barrels. · Light golden yellow color and clear in the glass. Attractive aromas of white peach, lemon curd and iron are replicated on the palate. The French oak is beautifully integrated offering the slightest hint of vanilla and toast. The wine is smoothly textured in the mouth and slightly viscous, with vibrant underlying acidity and some persistence of juicy green apple on the finish. Very classy. Score: 92. Reviewed November 9, 2013 ARTICLE »
2010 Ken Brown Wines Cargassachi Vineyard Sta. Rita Hills Pinot Noir
$N/A. Clone 115. · Very representative of this vineyard with black fruits, an earthy and animale component and a deep richness on the palate. The ripe, muscular tannins will benefit from more bottle aging. Good Reviewed April 13, 2013 ARTICLE »
2010 Ken Brown Wines Sta. Rita Hills Pinot Noir
14.5% alc., pH 3.71, TA 0.56, 298 cases, $40. From Rio Vista (78%), Rita’s Crown and Rancho La Vina vineyards providing an over view of the Sta. Rita Hills AVA. 100% de-stemmed, aged 10 months in 37% new French oak barrels. · This is a very forward drinking wine that will find wide appeal. It is aromatically expressive with scents of black cherry and spice, echoed on the palate which is discreetly lush and pleasing. Beautiful integration of oak and seductively elegant. Very good. Reviewed April 13, 2013 ARTICLE »
2010 Ken Brown Wines Clos Pepe Vineyard Sta. Rita Hills Pinot Noir
14.7% alc., pH 3.57, TA 0.61, 265 cases, $50. Pommard clone. 100% de-stemmed, aged 18 months in 43% French oak barrels. · Red and black fruits are featured in this very feminine expression of this vineyard. Nicely balanced with restrained tannins. Demonstrates a wet rock aroma and a mineral-driven electric component on the palate. Very good. Reviewed April 13, 2013 ARTICLE »
2008 Ken Brown Cargassachi Vineyard Sta. Rita Hills Pinot Noir
14.7% alc., pH 3.61, 137 cases, $50. From the 16-acre Cargassachi Vineyard planted in 1998 to clone 115. The vineyard is at the extreme west end of the Sta. Rita Hills AVA, making it one of the coolest vineyards in California. The Botella Series soils have a high calcareous content, allowing excellent drainage while limited yields. 100% de-stemmed. Aged 10 months in 43% new French oak barrels. · Deep, dark reddish-purple color in the glass. Packed with richly flavored dark Pinot fruits complimented by oak-contributed mocha notes, robed in supple tannins. Seductively smooth and velvety on the palate. The nose is still primal and the wine will become more nuanced with more age. This Pinot had several consumer fans at WOPN. Very good. Reviewed March 12, 2011 ARTICLE »
2007 Ken Brown Clos Pepe Vineyard Sta. Rita Hills Pinot Noir
14.7% alc., $50. 100% Pommard. · Lightest in color of the lineup of wines. Demure aromas of cherries and berries. Well-flavored red and blue fruits with lively acidity on the bright finish. Less tannic and more elegant than past Clos Pepe bottlings from Ken Brown and more to my liking. Reviewed March 11, 2010 ARTICLE »
2006 Ken Brown Duncan’s Cuvee Santa Rita Hills Pinot Noir
14.5% alc., $25. Sourced primarily from Rio Vista Vineyard with contributions from other local vineyards. · This wine has a strange “diaper” aroma which passes through to the flavors and ruins the experience. There is a decent dark red-fruited core which is moderately sappy. The texture is rich and velvety and the tannins are well managed. Reviewed May 7, 2009 ARTICLE »
2006 Ken Brown Santa Barbara County Pinot Noir
14.5% alc., $30. Primarily sourced from the Babcock Vineyard in the Santa Rita Hills. · The nose is a bit reserved but pleasant showing scents of black cherries and heavy oak. A fruit-driven wine propelled by dark stone fruits and accents of root beer and toasty oak. Plenty of punch and richness that picks up intensity in the glass. Very drinkable now. Reviewed May 7, 2009 ARTICLE »
2003 Ken Brown Wines Clos Pepe Vineyard Sta. Rita Hills Pinot Noir
I have sampled this on several occasions when young. As Ken said, the wine “drank like a Cab, but oh what a ride!” However, with a few years of age, the wine now showed more restraint and polish. The rough edges had disappeared, the tannins had softened, and the aromatics were more bright and persistent. It is still a hulk of a wine, but more calm and well-behaved.. Reviewed July 23, 2007 ARTICLE »
2003 Ken Brown Clos Pepe Vineyard Sta. Rita Hills Pinot Noir
14.7% alc., 122 cases, $45. Initially this was a very intense and heady wine resulting from scant yields (1 ton per acre) and the typically robust fruit from this vineyard. · A few years in the cellar has tamed the beast. Dark ruby in color. Complex aromatics of dark fruits, freshly baked cookies, toast and smoke. Darker Pinot fruits carry the theme to a lengthy and tangy finish. Silky in texture with gossamer tannins. An argument for aging Pinot Noir a few years before popping the cork. The website is www.kenbrownwines.com. Reviewed --/--/--
2003 Ken Brown Clos Pepe Vineyard Sta. Rita Hills Pinot Noir
14.7% alc., 122 cases, $45. Initially this was a very intense and heady wine resulting from scant yields (1 ton per acre) and the typically robust fruit from this vineyard. · A few years in the cellar has tamed the beast. Dark ruby in color. Complex aromatics of dark fruits, freshly baked cookies, toast and smoke. Darker Pinot fruits carry the theme to a lengthy and tangy finish. Silky in texture with gossamer tannins. An argument for aging Pinot Noir a few years before popping the cork. Reviewed November 20, 2007 ARTICLE »