What's Cookin' on Wine with Michael Horn

9/29 BRIAN BRAKESMAN, SUMMIT LAKE VINEYARDS & WINERY, ROBIN KELLEY O'CONNOR

October 1, 201452 min
BRIAN BRAKESMAN – WINEMAKER, SUMMIT LAKE VINEYARDS & WINERY Summit Lake Vineyards & Winery is a small, family owned and operated winery located high above the Napa Valley on Howell Mountain, established in 1971 by Bob and Sue Brakesman. The distinctive red soils and micro-climate produce distinctive and outstanding red varietals such as Zinfandel, Petite Sirah and of course Cabernet Sauvignon. Brian was born and raised on Howell Mountain at Summit Lake Vineyards, a boutique family winery famous for its Zinfandel. Working alongside his parents and siblings, Brian developed an appreciation for the art and culture of winemaking, learning every step of the process from vine to bottle. To formalize his education, Brian studied agricultural engineering at Cal Poly in San Luis Obispo. Here, he learned of his exceptional aptitude for identifying the intricate details of wine composition and terrior, and further developed his intuitive grasp of the elements essential to winemaking. After graduation, Brian spent a year traveling the world to broaden and develop his knowledge of wine, stopping for a season of wine and rugby in New Zealand. Wanderlust abated, and palate for worldly wines temporarily satiated, Brian returned home to Napa Valley. He immediately began working with acclaimed consulting winemaker John Gibson, formally of Stags Leap Wine Cellars and Vine Cliff Winery. Here, Brian helped John make wines for celebrated clients including Snowden Vineyards, Andrew Geoffrey, and Salexis. After apprenticing with Gibson for 3 years, Brian became the Assistant Winemaker for Duckhorn Wine Company's Paraduxx Winery. Under famed winemaker Bill Nancarrow’s tutelage, Brian learned to balance the complexities of large-scale winemaking with the high standards and intricacies associated with top-notch, legacy brands. 4 years later, Brian was hungry to run the show and accepted the Winemaker position at Ledson Winery in Sonoma. Employing the skills and unique enological insights developed over his lifetime, Brian made over 82 wines per vintage from a catalog of diverse growing regions over his 4-year tenure at Ledson, and significantly elevated the quality of wines and brand. . Today Brian is the Winemaker at Summit Lake Vineyards & Winery, Consulting Winemaker, Owner at burgeoning Red Thread Wine Company, and lives with his wife and children just around the corner from his family winery on Howell Mountain. WWW.SUMMITLAKEVINEYARDS.COM ROBIN KELLEY O'CONNOR - WINE EDUCATOR, INTERNATIONAL WINE JUDGE, WINE WRITER, AND SOMMELIER A leading wine educator, international wine judge, wine writer, and sommelier, Robin Kelley O’Connor joined Italian Wine Merchants (IWM), and its dynamic team where he has been adding his thirty years of experience, authority and passion to seminars, dinner events, sales, offerings and wine education. IWM is the leading purveyor of fine Italian wines in the country, as well as a specialist in providing great, rare and collectable wines of Burgundy, Bordeaux, Champagne, California and Rioja In his role at IWM, he has the occasion to offer an unparalleled spectrum of wine and collector services such as cellar management, IWM’s proprietary online wine cellar tracking tool, wine appraisal and consignment assistance--and more. He was Head of Wine & Lead Specialist, Americas, for Christie’s Auction House. In his role at Christie’s, Robin was responsible for wine auctions and private sales of fine and rare wines for the Americas, and had the role as the department's lead business-getter in securing consignments for sale.  Mr. O’Connor is a Christie’s trained charity auctioneer. Prior to Christie’s, he was Director of Sales and Education for Manhattan wine and spirits retailer Sherry-Lehmann, winner of Wine Enthusiast Magazine’s 2010 Wine Retailer of the Year Award.  Preceding Sherry-Lehmann, he was Trade Liaison and director of trade and consumer education in the Americas for the Bordeaux Wine Bureau (Con

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