Santa Ynez Valley AVA
The reputable Brander Vineyard & Winery crafts small-lots of terroir-driven, award-winning estate wines.
Born of an American mother and Argentine father, Fred Brander lived the early part of his life in Buenos Aires where his family operated an import/export company. As was the case with most Argentine families, wine was a part of the evening meal for him from an early age. When he was twelve, the family moved to Santa Barbara, California and young Fred Brander discovered a particular penchant for chemistry - he even had his own chemistry set before entering high school.
After graduating from the research-oriented Harvey Mudd College in 1973 in Claremont, Fred returned to Santa Barbara and began developing a plan for his life that included grapes and wines. He talked his family into investing in a 40-acre plot of land located in the Santa Ynez Valley where he proposed to grow grapes. The area was practically unknown as a grape producing region, but Fred was undaunted in his belief that the Santa Ynez Valley, and in particular the area known as Los Olivos, was capable of supporting varietals from the great Bordeaux region of France.
The first vines were planted in 1975 as the Brander Vineyard, making the spot one of the oldest vineyards in the region. When his wines finally reached the general public, his 1977 Sauvignon Blanc won Santa Barbara County’s first Gold Medal at a major wine competition. To complete his vision and dream, Fred began construction of his pink château-style winery in 1979 and many wine insiders finally took notice of the Santa Ynez wine pioneer.
Through Brander Vineyard & Winery, Fred has produced a wide range of distinctive, classically-styled wines for over forty years in the Santa Ynez Valley.
We hope your Gold Wine Subscription members enjoy these fantastic wines!
Map of the area
Fabian Bravo - Winemaker
After graduating with a degree in Electrical Engineering, Fabian Bravo worked in aerospace for a few years, but decided it was not the career path for him. With the help of a friend, Fabian found himself working a harvest at Siduri Winery in Santa Rosa, and the rest was history. He joined Brander in 2007 and has been crafting stunning estate wines that distinctively represent the historic Brander Vineyard.
The Art of Fine Wine
Santa Ynez Vineyard
Painted by local artist Lynn Fogel who generally works with oils and enhances colors to create more vibrancy than one might see in reality.
The Green Vineyard
Painted by Vincent van Gogh in 1888. The oil on canvas painting is currently on display at the Kröller-Müller Museum of Otterlo, in Ede, The Netherlands
About the Vineyard
As the closest winegrowing region north of Los Angeles, the Santa Ynez Valley is a short excursion for Southern California wine aficionados and a picturesque setting for tasting world-class wines.
The Valley is a long east-west corridor bordered by the Purisima Hills and San Raphael Mountains to the north and the Santa Ynez Mountains to the south. With very cool temperatures on the coast that become progressively warmer inland, the Santa Ynez Valley region provides a unique growing environment that favors a number of grape varietals including Syrah, Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc and others.
Growth in recent years borders on the incredible with approximately 2,200 acres under vine and over fifty wineries producing a number of premium wines. Today, the Santa Ynez Valley actually has the greatest concentration of wineries in Santa Barbara County. From one-person labors of love to multi-thousand case operations, each has a dedication to producing wine that truly reflects the high quality and broad diversity of the local grapes.
Fred Brander - The King of Sauvignon Blanc in Santa Ynez
Although Fred Brander considers himself a chemist at heart, his tenure UC Davis played the foremost role in his evolution as a winemaker.
Brander earned a Masters in Food Science in 1976 and was exposed to the latest in innovative ideas and personnel at the college. His stint as winemaker at the early (1977) Santa Ynez Valley Winery honed his skills for Brander Vineyard.
More about Fred Brander
Born of an American mother and Argentine father, Fred Brander lived the early part of his life in Buenos Aires where his family operated an import/export company. As was the case with most Argentine families, wine was a part of the evening meal for him from an early age. When he was twelve, the family moved to Santa Barbara, California, and young Fred discovered a particular penchant for chemistry and even had his own chemistry set before he entered high school.
"I really loved finding out how things were made and being able to reproduce some experiments," he recalled fondly, "I guess it set the stage for my entire life even if I didn't know it at the time."
Fred enrolled at research oriented Harvey Mudd College in Claremont, California and graduated in 1973. He returned to Santa Barbara and began developing a plan for his life that included grapes and possibly wines.
Brander talked his family into investing into a forty-acre plot of land located in the Santa Ynez Valley where he proposed to grow grapes. The area was practically unknown as a grape producing region but Brander was undaunted in his belief that the Santa Ynez Valley, and in particular the area known as Los Olivos, was capable of supporting particular types of varietal grapes commonly called Bordeaux varietals.
"I was fortunate to have been able to travel extensively in France," Brander explained. "I came in close contact with all the classic growing areas, Bordeaux, Burgundy and the Rhône. Being a semi-native of Santa Barbara, I knew the surrounding area quite well. When I did my research on the terrain, I felt that Los Olivos and its natural warm spots was most suited to the Bordeaux varietals."
The first vines were planted in 1975 as the Brander Vineyard, making the spot one of the oldest vineyards in the region. During this period, Brander was also experimenting with making some homemade wines and beers in order to satisfy his natural passion as a chemist. Needless to say, his first wines received a number of promising comments from friends and neighbors who were asked to taste the finished products.
When his wines finally reached the general public, Brander took the unexpected step of making lowly Sauvignon Blanc his major grape of prominence. When his wines began collecting gold medals and garnering national and even international notice, many wine insiders finally took notice of the Santa Ynez wine pioneer.
Through the Brander Vineyard, Fred Brander has produced award-winning Sauvignon Blancs for the past 31 consecutive years, a record unparalleled in the California wine industry for the varietal. He is primarily responsible for the varietal's rise to popularity, certainly in his own region and arguably in the whole of California.
At 60, Fred Brander's fascination with Bordeaux varietals has not waned in the least. His new project involves the venerable Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot, the ultra red varietals from Bordeaux.
"Even though this area is known more for the Pinot Noir, I'm still convinced certain micro climates are better suited to Cabernet and Merlot and even Cabernet Franc. I want the general public to pay more attention to these grapes and wines from Los Olivos and give them a chance to compare to other great growing areas throughout the state."