#PinnaclePartners: Thomas Rivers Brown
Pinnacle Imports is proud to work with a wide range of wineries and distilleries from around the world. For almost a quarter-century, we've had the opportunity to work with small family estates, large importers, and everything in between. In this new series that we're calling "Pinnacle Partners," we are featuring the people behind these companies. Each week, we'll interview one producer in our portfolio. Through these conversations, we hope you learn more about the intricacies of vineyard management, importation logistics, and more.
Our first #PinnaclePartners post focuses on Thomas Rivers Brown, one of the most celebrated winemakers in California.
One of the country’s top talents, Thomas Rivers Brown was named 2010’s Winemaker of the Year by Food & Wine magazine. After getting his start at Turley Cellars in 1994, Thomas now makes wines for select premium labels. Over the last decade, Thomas has received more 100-point scores than any other Napa Valley winemaker and was the first American winemaker to receive a perfect score from Wine Spectator.
Thomas makes wine for eight Pinnacle-represented wineries: Aston, Boars' View, Caterwaul, Casa Piana, Matthew Wallace, Mending Wall, Post-Parade, and Rivers-Marie. Read on to understand his approach to winemaking!
Pinnacle: A large part of your approach to winemaking is the expression of a single vineyard. How will the changing climate of California impact single-vineyard bottlings in the future?
TRB: While climate change is undeniable, grape vines are very resilient and each year we experience a whole new set of growing conditions. Last year was particularly warm and so far this year is historically cool. Part of what makes the notable single vineyard sites stand out is their consistency year in and year out, even amidst climate variability.
Pinnacle: We just received our allocation of Caterwaul -- both the Sonoma and Napa bottlings. For consumers who might be more familiar with Napa Cab, would you describe what makes Cabernet Sauvignon from Sonoma distinct?
TRB: The Sonoma bottling came about because we found an incredible old-vine vineyard, literally a few minutes north from the Napa Valley line. The Sonoma bottling is marked by dark fruit complexity, structure and great depth.
Pinnacle: What do you look for in a distributor partnership?
TRB: Good, hard-working people that are passionate about the history and nuance of wines. We want to work with people that get just as excited about the wines as we do.
Pinnacle: Over the last decade, you've received more 100-point scores than any other Napa Valley winemaker. What is your relationship to scores, and how has that changed throughout your winemaking career?
TRB: As a younger winemaker, scores are good to gain recognition with consumers and bolster your reputation as a competent and consistent winemaker among your peers. These days it feels just as good to get big scores, but it's nothing I hang my hat on as far as my reputation.