Smooth transitions are important in all phases of viticulture, especially when it comes to the winemakers
After pursuing a degree in Industrial Design at the prestigious College for Creative Studies in Detroit, Robert Brengman learned winemaking with experts in the cellars of Brengman Brothers, which he cofounded almost 20 years ago.
Revolutionary American wine pioneers Robert Mondavi, Don Chappellet, Martin Ray, Paul Draper, Bob Travers and Warren Winiarski, to mention a few, followed similar paths to winemaking without formal training.
When Winiarski was asked if that was unusual, he replied, “Many people have chosen deliberately to pursue winemaking as a second career and have infused a great deal of enthusiasm and dedication in the industry. These people are in it because they love it, and the love heightens their powers of observation, intensifies their interest, intimacy and Knowledge.”
Winiarski says that this brings winemaking closer to the European tradition, where “observations, techniques, judgment and art are all passed on through the generations.”
David Bynum, a former journalist at the San Francisco Chronicle, was the first to make single-vineyard Pinot Noir from Sonoma County’s Russian River Valley grapes in 1973.
He was renowned for saying “any idiot can make wine, but he has to be a tireless idiot. Winemaking takes enormous work and attention.”
After supervising others in creating award-winning wines at Brengman Brothers, Robert has achieved the title winemaker/director after a series of actions in the cellar that indicate it is his time after all the experience and hard work. “By not having a degree, I’m constantly reading wine books, soil books, tasting as much wine as possible, developing my senses and intuition to the highest level. I’ve read that it takes two lifetimes to ever become good at winemaking. I’m sure that my previous lifetime I was a winemaker, perhaps Churchill tasted my mine!”
Robert has his fingerprints on the new release wines including the reds from 2017 and the whites from the 2018 vintage. Be on the lookout for these spectacular fine wines.