Château Julien Winery
"We’re very proud of the quality of our wines, but we also want to be known for the quality of people who are with us here at the winery"
Since Chateau Julien Winery’s first wine, a 1982 vintage Merlot that wowed critics with “Best of Golds” and “Best American Merlot” honors at the American Wine Competition, the winery has garnered thousands of awards in both national and international competitions – an outstanding accomplishment on any level.
Nestled at the base of the majestic Carmel Valley Mountains and just a few miles east of the Monterey Peninsula, Chateau Julien Winery was named after and styled from an actual French chateau in the St. Julien district of Bordeaux. Owners Bob and Patty Brower fell in love with the French chateau while traveling in Europe and decided to create the same European home-style feeling to the winery they built in Monterey.
Bob and Patty wanted to create something special and unique with their winery and did away with the “public tasting room” idea. Instead, the duo implemented characteristics of European hospitality that they experienced while visiting international wineries and fashioned an estate that’s become truly extraordinary. Rather than hosting a “tasting bar” in the greeting room (known as “The Great Hall”), Bob and Patty enjoy treating visitors to generous pourings of Chateau Julien estate wines at a dining room table alongside a beautiful stone fireplace. With its high cathedral ceilings and intricate stained glass windows, the winery creates a memorable tasting experience unlike any other.
This chateau-style winery was constructed in 1984, on what was once a seven and a half acre Christmas tree farm. During construction of the chateau, the winery produced about 3,000 cases out of a warehouse in Monterey and an office in Carmel. The wines were an instant success, earning multiple medals at competitions, and the winery won a number of “Best New Winery” awards.
Needless to say, demand for Chateau Julien wines mushroomed. Bob and Patty’s immediate goal at the time was to reach a production of 15,000 cases, however the number of cases was secondary to maintaining consistent, top-quality wines. Over the years, the Browers have slowly increased production to over 20,000 cases and have added a number of different labels and blends to the winery’s portfolio. Their popular Barrel Aged wines were first introduced in 1998 and a special blend of Merlot and Malbec named Bravura was made to commemorate the winery’s 25th anniversary in 2007.
Winemaker Bill Anderson has been with Bob and Patty since the winery opened in 1982, and holds perhaps the longest tenure of any winemaker in California. With over 25 years of experience in the wine industry, Bill has played an integral part in establishing Merlot as Chateau Julien’s flagship varietal, which has proven to flourish in the county and become one of the more desirable grapes.
Owner Bob Brower agrees, “The best Merlot grapes in California are found right here in southern Monterey County.”
Since 1996, Chateau Julien has had a partnership in an estate vineyard in South Monterey County’s Lockwood Valley, and today, the 246-acre vineyard is planted to 11 varietals, including the flagship Merlot. The winery also sources from a variety of select vineyards within Monterey and Salinas Valley.
“We are very confident with the growers we use,” says owner Patty Brower, “we’ll continue to produce our wines from the best sources available regardless of whether it’s from our own vineyard or from others in the area,” she adds.
Chateau Julien wines are usually made with grapes from multiple vineyards, taking great care to use only the best available from each site, and the team is sure to incorporate their European inspirations into their winemaking. “Our style can be described as California-French,” says winemaker Bill Anderson. “For example, our Chardonnays are not the ‘big killer Chards,’ with tons of oak, like a lot of California Chardonnays tend to be. Our style is dry, fruity, with a nice oak presence.”
Chateau Julien’s veteran winemaker coaxes all the best qualities from the superb Monterey grapes they use to produce world-class wines. Merlot is what initially put Chateau Julien on the map and established their quickly earned reputation for outstanding wines. And with the addition of different labels and proprietary blends, the winery is hitting all cylinders.
“I really feel our success has been a result of the people Bob and I are working with,” says a modest Patty Brower. “Naturally, we’re very proud of the quality of our wines. But we also want to be known for the quality of people who are with us here at the winery, giving great tours, offering warm hospitality, and doing all the necessary behind-the-scenes activities that make it all happen.”
Map of the area
Winemaker Bill Anderson
Winemaker Bill Anderson's knowledge of enology and viticulture stems from his studies at Stanford and UC Davis and his philosophy continues to be as simple as the elegance he achieves in his wines. "If you have good grapes and treat them well, do all the details every day and let them do what they will naturally do, you will have a good product.”
Bob and Patty Brower
In 1980, Bob and Patty Brower were traveling in California and came across a charming region with cascading hillsides, warm sunshine, and cool ocean breezes. The region was Monterey County and it made a lasting impression that the Browers simply could not ignore.
On this trip away from their New Jersey home, Bob and Patty discovered the exceptional quality of wines being made from grapes grown in Monterey County. Even as a knowledgeable and avid wine enthusiast, Bob, like most of the wine community then, had not yet realized the huge untapped potential of producing wines from high caliber Monterey County grapes.
For many years prior to that trip, Bob and his best friend in New Jersey had studied as much as they could about wines and the wine industry. Their zeal for learning about wine far exceeded the normal level of enthusiasm and a future in the industry seemed destined and only natural.
Bob's passionate interest in wine was contagious, and Patty soon caught the bug as well. In fact, it had become a longtime goal of Bob and Patty's to someday own and operate a winery in California, and with the discovery of Monterey County, the couple had now found the perfect place to start. With the outrageous prices and overbuilt land in Napa Valley, it was an easy decision to create a home in Monterey, which was perfectly suited for grapes and had huge upside potential.
But wine hadn't always been a part of the Browers' life. Bob was born and raised in Oceanside, Long Island, New York and attended college at nearby Fairleigh Dickinson University in New Jersey. After college, Bob went to work for Shell Oil Company, settling into what easily could have been a life long career. Owning and running a winery was perhaps the furthest thing from his mind.
Bob worked at Shell Oil until the entrepreneurial bug bit him in the early 1970s and he left the company in order to start his own petroleum business. Over the next 10 years he managed to build a small empire of retail service stations and also wholesaled petroleum to other independent gas stations. It was also during this period of time that Bob and Patty met, she having worked for the freight company that hauled Bob's petroleum to his customers. By 1976, Patty and Bob were working together at Bob's company and began forging the idea of owning a winery.
On that trip to California in 1980, Bob and Patty fell in love with a beautiful piece of property just outside Carmel, on the outskirts of Monterey County. The Browers had wanted to move to California for years, and when this opportunity presented itself the couple jumped at the chance. Within a year, Bob and Patty moved from their New Jersey home to begin working on their dream, and the winery they constructed was simply remarkable.
The Browers' vision to open a winery was largely fueled by the aspiring French hospitality and quality of wine that they encountered abroad while visiting French Chateaus and they incorporated this philosophy into every aspect of their new winery. After more than a year of construction, the winery was complete and the Browers named it 'Chateau Julien' after an actual chateau on the French/Swiss border.
The Browers strive to replicate the warmth of the family atmosphere they found in France, and enjoy creating a feeling of warmth and welcome at Chateau Julien. "Everyone is treated the same here,” says Patty. "It doesn't matter if you're a wine expert or if you know nothing at all about wines. We try to extend the same courtesy to all.”
Their continuing goal is to offer great wines at prices the general public can afford, and consistently since 1982 Chateau Julien has accomplished just that. If you are lucky enough to find your way to Monterey, the Browers' chateau doors are open every day. We think you'll agree they have succeeded not only in producing outstanding wine, but also in creating a comfortable and pleasurable place to enjoy it.