Brown Estate began as a farming enterprise. Among friends we refer to our Napa Valley property as "The Ranch," partly because that's what Mom and Dad were seeking in the late Seventies: a place where we kids, Angelenos by birth, could experience something akin to their own rural upbringings in Panama and Jamaica respectively.
When our parents found this place its notable features were its far-flung location, a long-neglected walnut orchard, two dilapidated structures — an 1859 stone and redwood barn and an 1885 Queen Anne Victorian — and vertiginous topography dense with chaparral. Thirty-five years later we are happily off the beaten path, the abandoned walnut orchard replaced by vineyards, the two structures preserved and restored (and a Napa County Historical Society commendation conferred), the topography transformed into terroir.
By the time we took over the farming operation from Mom and Dad in 1990, they had settled in as growers, content with cultivating fifty acres of zinfandel, cabernet sauvignon, and chardonnay grapes and selling them to established producers including T-Vine, Grgich Hills, and Green & Red. But we soon realized the quality of fruit our land consistently gave us called for something next level — namely, that we make our own wine. In 1995 we began laying the groundwork with feverish research, and in 1996 David, working with then consulting winemaker Duane Dappen, crafted our first vintage of Napa Valley Zinfandel — the original Brown zin.
In January 2000 we made our first appearance at the annual ZAP (Zinfandel Advocates & Producers) Grand Tasting in San Francisco, then and still the largest single varietal wine tasting in the world. We showed two vintages of our Napa zin — 1996 and 1997 — concurrent with a story in that month's Wine Spectator headlined “A Family Affair: The Browns turned a weekend project into an outstanding Napa Valley Zinfandel.” That heady debut was capped off by iconic zin producer Larry Turley, an early Brown Estate champion, queuing up at our table at ZAP to taste our juice. The rest is history in the making!