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Brian Brown

ONX Wines' Brian Brown is known for a meticulousness that is only counterbalanced by that trait that so many Paso winemakers share: an attraction to the unorthodox.

Brown grew up all over the world: Thailand, Switzerland, Australia, Singapore and the U.S., which is likely why he is now drawn to estate winemaking, which allows him to stay in one place for a long time.

After earning a degree in viticulture and enology from UC Davis and completing internships at Iron Horse Vineyards in Sonoma County, Salitage in Australia, and Napa Wine Co. in Oakville, Brown's early career was spent in Napa at Trefethen, Vineyard 29 and Round Pond Estate, where he honed his craft over seven vintages.

In 2004, Brown was introduced to Steve Olson. The Olson family, who founded one of the largest construction companies in Southern California, had just purchased 59 acres of former rangeland adjoining a small stream. ONX lies at the heart of the newly designated Templeton Gap AVA. The low-lying southern end of the 120-acre property, near the stream, tends to draw in cool air, which often lingers - a perfect spot for Sauvignon Blanc, says Brown.

Brown's pilot vineyard, planted in 2005, included the most common Rhône varietals: Syrah, Grenache and Mourvèdre. Then a different vision emerged for the young vineyard. Working on a hunch and his love of European wine beyond France, Brown planted several blocks with a mixture of Rhône, Spanish, Bordeaux, Portuguese and Italian grapes.

Brown loves experimentation but he isn't afraid of failure. It's the price to be paid, Brown says, when your goals are complexity and unusual synergy. "Winemaking is 40 percent organization, 40 percent sanitation and 20 percent paying attention," Brown says.
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