Brian Graham, Winemaker

It was a long and winding path that led Brian Graham to the bucolic surroundings of Canard Vineyard. His trajectory in high school was toward Architecture. He was named Architect of the Year in High School – twice, and attended Texas Tech. Brian worked his way through school in wine stores where he rose to the position of wine buyer and manager. After earning an undergraduate degree in architecture and five years of absorbing the stories of wine representatives he moved into wine distribution.

There he made friends with producers – including one who owned a Chateau in
Bordeaux. He was offered a job and a place to stay. The ‘wine bug’ that had started while tasting wine with his dad now consumed him, and while working in France he attended The University of Bordeaux.

Shedding all his possessions except what fit in two suit cases he moved to France to learn more. In Bordeaux he worked several vintages with varying weather and the constant of a single vineyard. A keen observer, he learned the importance of responding nimbly to the details. He traveled to work harvest in Burgundy and tasted neighboring regions. While in France, Brian also pursued WSET courses in London. The breadth of nuance in wines, technique, and regions covered by the classes was inspiring. The time had come for the next step and a move back to the United States.
Napa Valley called to him…. He registered for the Viticultural program at Napa Valley College which was followed by winemaking stints at Merryvale, Marshall Vineyards and Napa Redwood Estates. These experiences brought the opportunity to connect with the Czapleski’s at Napa Valley Premiere. They had admired his wines for years and purchased the auction lot he made for Premiere in 2007. When the opportunity arose to select a new winemaker it was a natural fit for everyone. Brian pours his experience, heart and soul into Canard Vineyard wines.
The constant of mature vines and the vagaries of weather allow Brian to craft wines with new world juicy acidity with old world texture and complexity. Given his architectural background he aims to make ‘convex’ wines focused on building the midpalate. The process starts in the vineyard with canopy management unique to the site and climate. The attention to detail extends to the hand work in the vineyard for fruit thinning and harvesting row by row, vine by vine. The approach to fermenting and aging each varietal and block is particularized. The results speak for themselves in terms of the wine and the extraordinarily loyal customers.

Learn more about Brian in the video interview below.