New style, new owners
Interesting article, thanks for posting
Odd article. I’m with the Breslin somm on this…never heard of Kosta Browne. I wish them all the best in their pursuit of becoming the next Jolie-Laide.
Been buying since the 2002 vintage, but they’ve pretty much priced themselves out of my comfort zone. Used to buy 18 to 24 bottles of their SVDs. This year - 6. Next year, maybe none.
Wasn’t this the inevitable outcome when the first VC firm purchased KB for $40MM. Anyone know what the recent purchase price was?
Saw the story as well. I guess time will tell to see how big the changes are. My guess is that they will dial things back a bit but will spend a lot more money on Advertising.
It was Bill Price, who owns Gaps Crown and part of Durrell. He also owns Three Sticks and has Bob Cabral as winemaker. He bought half of KB for 40M and sold 3 years later for over 100M. He has interests in Kistler, Lutum and Gary Farrell from what I remember.
Well, I haven’t had a Kosta Browne wine in ages but Jolie-Laide is one of my favorite “new age” California wineries. Nice seeing them get some good press out of this.
Who ever imagined it would come to this:
Becker tells an illustrative story. He and Nico Cueva, Kosta Browne’s current winemaker, recently visited New York City on a sales trip. They were sitting at the Breslin, a top restaurant where any producer would hope to sell his wine, and Cueva was wearing a T-shirt that said Jolie-Laide — the tiny, ultra-hip label from winemaker Scott Schultz, known for oddity wines like Trousseau Gris and Melon de Bourgogne.
The Breslin’s sommelier asked Cueva, “Jolie-Laide — is that your label? I love those wines.” No, Cueva responded, it was his friend Scott’s; he was with Kosta Browne. “What was that?” Kosta Browne, Cueva repeated.
“Never heard of it,” the sommelier shrugged.
It was as if Taylor Swift, wearing a St. Vincent T-shirt, had encountered a music producer who loved St. Vincent but had never heard of Swift.
“And the thing hit me right between the eyes,” Becker says. “That’s what we’re up against.”
Interesting, thanks for sharing. Will need to decide if I’m in or out in the future. Planning on stopping by in May, tasting barrel samples may help make that decision…
this is usain bolt switching to run marathons.
like why? there’s enough afwe and not enough fun wines.
because of this one of the pick in july at 20 brix aged in thrice used wood needs to switch over to picking at 30 in 200% new wood.
Not surprising given their purchase of the Knez winery properties in Anderson Valley last year.
I hope they don’t change too much. KB is always a crowd pleaser and a change of pace for my normally acid driven preference.
Really smart marketing as far as I’m concerned. They hadn’t been ‘in the press’ for awhile, and this get them there - and makes people perhaps want to try them again.
Will they completely ‘abandon’ their old style? I certainly don’t see that happening. They can ‘tone down’ a bit without losing their core audience and would probably gain new devotees as well.
Bravo . . .
Thanks for posting the article. I’m disappointed that they’re chasing the AFWE crowd. Not because I prefer the ripe style but because in my romanticized world of wine chasing the pendulum is a bad idea. However, it’s their company and they’re free to make any changes they feel is necessary. I think Larry is right, they probably won’t tone it down all that much. My wife likes their wine, but I prefer a less extracted style for pinot noir. Maybe the shift will make a happy medium for us?
Has the trajectory of a winery ever been more influenced by one man’s opinion (James Laube) who is not named Robert Parker?
Let’s assume KB makes the exact wine they made in those mid 2000 vintages. But instead of proclaiming it the greatest thing ever out of California, Laube says it’s nice fruity wine in the 90 or 91 points range. The massive waiting list almost certainly never exists, and the brand is likely wroth closer to $4M than $40M, much less multiples of $40M.
By putting it on a completely different level than any other CA pinot noir, Laube’s take was bizarre.
Interesting quote as I watch my millennial employees get their almost daily Amazon deliveries.
"but I worry: In the future, will people still be willing to wait for wine?”
Interesting, Kosta Browne is what made me switch from California Pinot to Oregon Pinot. A toning down of style and a tad more availability would bring me back.
KB has already toned down the ripeness level of their wines over the last several+ years. They might do a bit more, but I’m guessing this is an announcement of what they’ve already done. Besides, the article quoted them as saying they aren’t going to make a lean acid driven Pinot, so it’s not like they’re walking away from their base. Interestingly, Breslin’s sommelier is almost certainly looking for lean & acid driven.
Good take here, John.