Friday, August 15, 2014
|Kosta Browne Winery at The Barlow in Sebastapol|
The no-frills approach worked fine in their formative years. They didn't have a need for a public tasting room since most of their wines are sold out via mailing list and to restaurants. But as the winery has grown they needed more space.
Functionally and aesthetically I think they hit a home run with their new spot in The Barlow - a very cool collection of artisinal food and drink producers in Sebastapol along Highway 12.
We enjoyed lunch at newly opened Vignette - a trendy Neapolitan-style pizza place. Michael Browne happened to be having lunch there too, as were many other Barlow tenants and visitors. Other wineries include MacPhail, and La Follette (just tasting rooms) as well as Wind Gap (which along with Kosta Browne produces wine on-site).
We met with Tony Lombardi, Director of Brand Management & Public Relations. He's really come into his own in this role and fits the Kosta Browne style perfectly. Easy going about the product, confident about the quality, and enthusiastic about sharing the story with fans of the brand.
|Courtyard within Kosta Browne's space at The Barlow|
Tony Lombari (left) and me (Robert Dwyer) on the right
Their space at The Barlow includes winemaking facilities with room to grow. Separate areas for cellaring and offices are in adjoining buildings.
|They're producing some volume these days but there's|
room to grow into this new space
|I don't know much about grape presses but I'm guessing these Buchers are the bomb|
|Me (Robert Dwyer) on the left, Tony Lombardi on the right|
One wine that's truly amazed me each time I've tasted it is their Chardonnay. They've only been making it a few years and they don't make a ton of it but the nose on this wine is magical. Lemon curd and sunshine for days before getting serious on the palate. They've got the Chard on sale at Zachy's at the moment at a nice price considering how hard it is to crack their mailing list and how much fully loaded costs can be. I'd hardly ever consider paying $50 for a California Chardonnay but I'm thinking of getting a couple bottles.
For single vineyard Pinots, we tried the Keefer and Kanzler. Both were a bit darker in style overall than the appellation wines but the single vineyards were satisfyingly serious with a ton of complexity and undenyable site-specific markings. They were both great but the Keefer was probably a bit more to my liking that day. I'd love to go back and spend more time focusing on the wines but it's always such a fun relaxing time at KB I try to just take it all in.
Conclusion and Recommendations
Kosta Browne's new facility at The Barlow is an amazing place. They're not open to the public but if you're on their mailing list it's absolutely worth dropping them a line to ask for a visit - even if you've recently visited them at their old location.
You can join their mailing list here. It took me 2 or 3 years to get an allocation but that was a few years ago. That was before they won Wine Spectator Wine of the Year (for their 2009 Sonoma Coast Pinot Noir) but production levels have increased gradually over time so there's hope!
This visit reminded me I should keep buying their wines in moderation and giving myself permission to open them without needing a special occasion. They're pricey but I think relative to the quality they're a value. With shipping to MA hopefully opening next year fully loaded costs and ease of shipment should improve the equation further.
At the end of our visit the guys from Michael Browne's new project CIRQ stopped by to take us on a vineyard tour. Can't wait to tell you about it. I'd love it if you subscribed to the WWP for future updates.
|Climate controlled large-format "trophy" room at Kosta Browne|
Me, Ken and Damon from CIRQ, Tony from KB and my childhood pal Nick
Question of the Day: What's been your experience with Kosta Browne wines lately? On their list? Still waiting for an allocation? How long does the wait list take to crack these days?