Kosta Browne is celebrating 20 years of award-winning Pinot Noir. And while they are making a few changes to keep the brand booming, the quality of the wines is still above par.
It all started back in 1997 when Dan Kosta and Michael Browne worked at a restaurant together and one day decided they wanted to make some together. They agreed to put $10 from their tips each night into an envelope.
With $1,400 and a lot of help from friends, they made enough wine for 24 cases. Flash forward, after adding a partner and much tweaking, Wine Spectator gave both of their 2003 Pinot Noirs a score of 95 out of 100.
And then — in 2011 — Wine Spectator named their 2009 Kosta Browne Pinot Noir Sonoma Coast the wine of the year.
That officially put them on the map and they have been making some of the best Pinots out there ever since (clearly a favorite of yours truly).
But in the interest of continuing to improve, they’re celebrating their 20th with some new stuff in place.
To start, Michael and Dan were smart enough to realize there is a time in every entrepreneur’s life when he needs to hand over the reigns. New eyes and energy can help reinvigorate a brand.
So in 2014, they brought in Scott Becker as CEO and most recently, they promoted veteran team member, Nico Cueva, who worked side by side with Michael for the past six vintages, to winemaker.
We had the pleasure of catching up with both of them at The Capital Grille in midtown Manhattan.
No surprise, they brought wine.
And while we tasted through their stellar Pinots, Nico candidly talked about how they finally are learning to listen to their vineyards. In the past, “we were trying to speak for [the vineyard]. The hand of man sometimes speaks louder than vineyard it self.”
But stepping back and letting the vineyards dictate things actually produces better wine.
And so 20 years later, they actively are listening. On June 6, 2017, they released some great new wines in honor of their anniversary.
And one of them is a Chardonnay. They actually have been working on a good Chardonnay for a few years now and just weren’t happy with it — until now.
Thankfully, we got to taste it (it’s the bottle in the photo without a label). While it’s made in 100% wood, it’s super clean, has high intensity and aromatics and some great acidity. “It’s an influence of Old World and New World,” says Becker.
Kosta Browne purposely doesn’t have a slew of different varietals because they always believed you should do one thing and do it well. And their Pinots have proved that.
Twenty years later, they now can say they do two things and do them well.
Looking forward to twenty years from now.
Tracy Byrnes, former FOX Business Network anchor and host of “Wine with Me” for Foxnews.com, is editor-in-chief and chief contributor of The Sip.