Thomas Rivers Brown
Winemaker, THE GRADE Cellars
Napa Valley is home to many exceptional winemakers. Then there's Thomas Rivers Brown.
Thomas joined THE GRADE Cellars at the end of the 2011 harvest and has brought an exciting new palate and keen vineyard perception to our wine program. He may be known locally as a gentleman with abundant southern charm and a wonderful family, but he is acclaimed internationally for his extraordinary wines.
Thomas is one of the most exciting talents in winemaking today. Born in Sumter, South Carolina, Thomas developed an interest in wine while attending the University of Virginia. He worked the 1997 harvest for Kent Rasmussen before becoming an assistant winemaker for Ehren Jordan, winemaker at Turley Wine Cellars and consultant to a number of other high profile California wineries.
In addition to THE GRADE Cellars wines which he makes for us at Sundance Ranch in Calistoga, TRB is also dedicated to his own project, Rivers-Marie wine, known for its Pinot Noirs and also made at Sundance. When asked what differentiates the many brands he makes, he responds, "I can't really define it, but I know it when I taste it." He takes pride in there not being a recognizable trait in his wines - spoken like a true artist.
In October 2008, Thomas made history as the youngest winemaker to score not just one, but two perfect "100 point" ratings from Robert M. Parker, The Wine Advocate. After his first full vintage at THE GRADE Cellars, Thomas debuted with a "99 point" score from Robert Parker for our 2012 Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon, which we named "Kingly Project", and a "97 point" Parker score for our 2012 Estate Cabernet.
Thomas' athleticism sustains him through the stress of harvest. And his Aston Martin Rapide allows him to materialize, never late, at vineyard meetings.
Country born: United States
Education: University of Virginia, BA
Years in the wine industry: 15-20 years
Honors / Awards:
Food & Wine's Winemaker of the Year 2010
Starting with the belief that the best wine is made in the vineyard, Thomas pursues a non-interventionist style that eschews technology.