Is there value in being able to include the word “Estate” on a wine bottle’s label?
The owners of Sonoma County’s Kosta Browne Winery obviously think so, based on two recent deals struck with respected vineyard owners.
First, Kosta Browne signed a long-term lease involving 37 acres of the Gap’s Crown Vineyard. More recently, it purchased its first vineyard—a 20-acre block from Keefer Ranch, which is situated within the Russian River Valley AVA (American Viticultural Area).
“We have been sourcing Pinot Noir from the Keefer Ranch since 2005, and it has been a gem in our portfolio,” said Kosta Browne founder Michael Browne in a press release. “It’s just such an incredible site, and the meticulous care given to this ranch by Marcy Keefer and her crew truly shows in the wines.”
Green Valley sits in the southwestern corner of the Russian River Valley—one of the coolest grape-growing spots in the AVA. Kosta Browne acquired Keefer’s “K2” block, while Keefer will continue to farm the remaining 30 acres of the 50-acre site.
As the press release noted, the deal with Keefer “further expands Kosta Browne’s new estate wine program.”
There’s that word again—estate. Why is it so important?
Because it tells the wine consumer that the maker of the wine was involved in the process from start to finish.
It can be a little tricky, because the phrase “estate bottled” doesn’t necessarily equate with “estate grown.” When you see “estate bottled,” it could be that the grapes were grown in one region, fermented in another, and then juice was brought to the winery—perhaps in a third region—to be bottled. But most vintners take the high road, and use the word “estate” only when a wine is both estate-grown and estate-bottled.
It’s an indication of an emphasis on quality when a winery participates in the process from growing the grapes all the way through bottling the finished product.
Kosta Browne already has earned a reputation for transforming other people’s grapes into wonderful wines. Now, it’s seeking to ratchet up quality another notch by also overseeing the grape-growing process.