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Gold Medal Wine Club
5330 Debbie Road, Suite 200
Santa Barbara, California 93111
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Presidio Winery - Santa Barbara County

Presidio Winery will continue its growth and quality aspirations

An excellent case could be made that Santa Barbara’s Presidio Winery is the Samuel Adams of the wine industry, at least from the conceptualization of the project. Its formation and development have followed the basic outlines of the beer giant and Presidio’s owners are pleased with the natural reference to the highly successful beer industry model.

Presidio Winery’s actual existence is the product of careful planning and a backdoor policy of development and growth. Its founder, president and winemaker, Douglas Braun, was a full time consultant to a number of wineries when the vision of Presidio Winery came to him in 1991. Two of his top clients, Santa Ynez Winery and Sunstone were located in Santa Barbara County when the area was just beginning its emergence as a top level wine producing area. Doug Braun is something of a visualist and perceived the opportunity to have his project on the ground level of Santa Barbara’s exciting era of development.

By utilizing much of the facilities at hand, Braun and his partners were able to produce their first vintages in 1992 that amounted to about 1,000 cases. Since money was a premium and Braun was smart enough not to saddle his enterprise with huge amounts of debt, he developed a work plan that called for slow, decisive growth. In other words, his initial five to six years were a real struggle for survival.

Braun was able to call on his earlier experiences at other wineries and his innate sense of what the public was actually interested in to help Presidio through the tough times of its infancy. He counted on the fact that the Santa Barbara growing area was still relatively unhewn and raw in terms of vines planted and wineries located. He was convinced the natural environment and proximity to population areas would provide an excellent venue for the future and he determined to persevere in his efforts.

When Presidio’s production reached the 6-7,000 case level, Braun concluded his consulting commitments and devoted all his efforts to the winery’s development. After nearly a decade into its existence, Douglas Braun and his family and partners were able to start construction on their first winery complex. The present facility was completed in 2000 and represents an affordable approach to the complexities of modern winemaking and production.

Presidio Winery contains 30,000 gallons of stainless tanks and somewhere between 500 and 600 barrels, making it capable of producing between 10,000 to 20,000 cases. This year’s production will exceed 10,000 cases but the thought doesn’t excite Douglas Braun as much as his plans for Presidio’s future development.

The focus of his energy at this time is a 100-acre site located midway between Buellton and Lompoc on the road that now houses Babcock Winery and Foley Winery among others. It is a prime piece of land that will soon be home to thirty planted acres and will also serve as the site for a new winery that Braun plans to begin work on as soon as Santa Barbara County officials give him the green light.

The new location is about a mile from the present winery and in close proximity to La Purisima Conception, a huge working mission that annually draws a large number of visitors. Braun’s eyes literally light up with the prospects for Presidio’s new winery. He explains that the place will be somewhat Opus-like in that the new planting will be vertically short positioned, only 20 inches off the ground, much like its famous Napa inspiration. The new site will also house a larger winery production building and a number of improvements that were not possible at the existing location.

It has taken Douglas Braun and his partners a long time to reach the position they now enjoy. Presidio’s careful growth and subsequent success have provided the impetus for a favorable future. During this time, Braun remained true to his sense of value and has continued to produce products that are marketed at reasonable levels. This sort of philosophy makes Gold Medal Wine Club confident that Presidio Winery will be enjoyed for many years to come.

Douglas Braun - Owner - Winemaker

Douglas Braun put himself through school and eventually emerged with degrees from both of California’s top viticultural institutions. He received an Enology degree from Fresno State and a viticultural degree from UC Davis that provided a great deal of direction for his career and life. While in undergraduate school, Braun worked in a number of food service industry jobs that imparted the inspiration that eventually caused him to return to school and ultimately led to the establishment of Presidio Winery in 1992.

During his formative years Braun worked for such giants as the Central Valley Cribari where he served as quality control manager. There he was exposed to the winery’s elaborate laboratories and their dedication to analysis and identical production. He later was introduced to a winemaker named Don Blackburn when he worked at Eliston Winery’s incredible hewn-stone mansion in Sunol. The facility dated back to the mid-1800’s and was the former residence of the Sheriff of San Francisco. Blackburn was a graduate of the France’s Montpelier University and a classically trained Burgundian winemaker. Blackburn’s influence and the zany innovativeness of the mid-1980s had a profound effect on Douglas Braun.

‘People were just getting into non-filtering and lees contact,” Braun explained, ‘and things were kind of crazy. It was sometime around 1987 that I began consulting on a full-time basis and started to realize the tremendous potential that existed in Santa Barbara as far as a growing region and destination spot. My closest associate for the past two years was a Burgundian who really taught me a lot.”

Douglas Braun’s next few years were spent familiarizing himself with the area that he was convinced would become the location for California’s next vineyard gold rush. Braun reveled in Santa Barbara’s lush lowlands and varied soils and determined that his future lay within its confines.

By 1991 he felt he knew enough to venture into the business on his own and he formed the basis of Presidio Winery Inc. Braun and his family own over 50% of the business and have several long time partners that have helped with various aspects of the business.

With barely enough money to get his venture started, Douglas Braun chose a practical and patient road to success. He paid homage to California’s early Spanish history by utilizing the name Presidio for his winery and slowly developed his concept. He bought fruit from growers outside his consulting ring and utilized facilities wherever he found them to minimize costs. He produced superior products and always kept an eye on value, a lesson learned from his early days in the business. He set achievable goals and managed to make the numbers whenever it really counted. Presidio’s sales grew and finally topped the 10,000 case plateau goal in the year 1998.

Last year he completed his first winery building and immediately started to plan for the future. A prime 100-acre site amongst several imposing wineries and adjacent to a major mission that had caught his eye and was acquired. Braun immediately began planting the first thirty acres and will start construction on a new winery when permits are obtained. He is excited, yet patient in the actual execution of his dream. He has waited a long time and survived in a business when many fail or exist marginally.

His dedication to Santa Barbara County is unyielding and should reap huge rewards. He acknowledges subtle differences in certain microclimates and intends to exploit these to his advantage. He also recognizes the fact that his travails at Presidio are something akin to the early California pioneers whom suffered and toiled for many years before their efforts reached fruition.

Through all this, Douglas Braun has also been able to maintain his sense of humor and a spirit and love for the wine industry that is charmingly apparent. He will soon realize his lifelong dream of completing a winery surrounded by varietals that he has chosen for their correctness, quality and pertinence to his ongoing plan. Presidio Winery will continue its growth and quality aspirations and its consumer base will most definitely continue to appreciate its efforts.