This summer, the iconic Pinot Noir producer, Kosta Browne winery, is opening two new doors, one with their recent acquisition by Duckhorn Wine Company, and the other a literal door to their new tasting gallery in Sebastopol.
With Vineyards far flung throughout the best Pinot Noir regions of California, from the Anderson Valley in the north to the Sonoma Coast, Russian River, and Santa Lucia Highlands in the south, it is impractical for Kosta Browne to offer the kind of vineyard tours that some wineries use to give their guests a connection to the wines, so instead they’ve focused on creating a luxury urban winery experience with a direct overview of the winery workings.
Kosta Browne recently opened their doors for a preview of this new gallery tasting experience in Sebastopol and included a chance to taste some of their new and upcoming releases. The new tasting gallery overlooks the cellar floor through a large window into the winemaking facility of Kosta Browne, so guests can see the activity in the cellar as they taste the wines and even visit the cellar if they wish.
The space has a beautifully sleek modern feel combined with warm and cozy wood and leather tones, and the tasting gallery is also intrinsically connected with another innovation at Kosta Browne; their new Observation Series wines, which are all very small production and only available to those who visit the winery.
From a bar setup on the cellar floor at the preview event, winemaker Nico Cueva poured his Pinot Noir Free James from the Observation Series labeled 16PNSC.FREE.45W.85CF, which he explained is their code indicating that it is a 2016 Pinot Noir from Sonoma County, Freestone AVA, 45% Whole Cluster and 85% Concrete Fermented.
The Observation Series wines immediately stand out as distinct from the other Kosta Browne wines with it’s simple and modern label dominated by white space, while their other wines still sport labels very closely resembling the label of the original 1997 vintage Kosta Browne Pinot Noir, which began the now twenty plus years story of Kosta Browne beginning with just one barrel of Pinot Noir.
However, the concept of the Observation Series is meant to honor that history and philosophy of innovation, experimentation, and unrestricted approach to winemaking, so when Cueva comes across a wine that stands out as unique and distinct, he has the opportunity to make it into its own limited production Observation Series wine instead of blending into one of the broader Appellation Series wines.
Because the series is based on the winemaker’s observations during winemaking, the series can include entirely different wines from vintage to vintage, potentially making each wine a one-time only and highly collectable item from the prestigious winery. Only 315 cases were produced of the Free James Pinot Noir, and while Cueva recognizes the potential of the Observation Series as collector’s wines, he expresses his primary goal to be that people drink and enjoy these unique wines.
Other wines in the Observation Series include 162 cases of the 2016 El Diablo Chardonnay and 231 cases of the 2016 Mount Carmel Pinot Noir.
Guests at the gallery preview also had the opportunity to experience another new addition to the Kosta Browne lineup, the 2016 Cerise Vineyards Pinot Noir. Kosta Browne bought the prestigious Cerise Vineyards in Anderson Valley, from Peter and Heidi Knez in 2016, and this vintage will be released in the fall as part of their Single Vineyard Series.
All the vineyard holdings and long term leases were part of the acquisition by Duckhorn Wine Company, and there are no immediate plans for personnel or other major changes. The sale of Kosta Browne is expected to close in August.
The official opening of Kosta Browne’s Sebastopol gallery is August 9, and the gallery will be available for booking by those on the Kosta Browne mailing list, even those not currently receiving allocations. However, guests are advised to book their visit well in advance, as this is sure to be a popular destination.
By Kim Badenfort