Winemaker – Red Thread Wine Co.
Brian was born and raised on Howell Mountain at Summit Lake Vineyards, a boutique family winery famous for its Zinfandel. Working alongside his parents and siblings, Brian developed an appreciation for the art and culture of winemaking, learning every step of the process from vine to bottle.
To formalize his education, Brian studied agricultural engineering at Cal Poly in San Luis Oo. Here, he learned of his exceptional aptitude for identifying the intricate details of wine composition and terrior, and further developed his intuitive grasp of the elements essential to winemaking.
After graduation, Brian spent a year traveling the world to broaden and develop his knowledge of wine, stopping for a season of wine and rugby in New Zealand. Wanderlust abated, and palate for worldly wines temporarily satiated, Brian returned home to Napa Valley. He immediately began working with acclaimed consulting winemaker John Gibson, formally of Stags Leap Wine Cellars and Vine Cliff Winery. Here, Brian helped John make wines for celebrated clients including Snowden Vineyards, Andrew Geoffrey, and Salexis.
After apprenticing with Gibson for 3 years, Brian became the Assistant Winemaker for Duckhorn Wine Company's Paraduxx Winery. Under famed winemaker Bill Nancarrow’s tutelage, Brian learned to balance the complexities of large-scale winemaking with the high standards and intricacies associated with top-notch, legacy brands.
4 years later, Brian was hungry to run the show and accepted the Winemaker position at Ledson Winery in Sonoma. Employing the skills and unique enological insights developed over his lifetime, Brian made over 82 wines per vintage from a catalog of diverse growing regions over his 4-year tenure at Ledson, and significantly elevated the quality of wines and brand.
Today Brian is the Winemaker at Summit Lake Vineyards & Winery, Consulting Winemaker, Owner at burgeoning Red Thread Wine Company, and lives with his wife and children just around the corner from his family winery on Howell Mountain.
Sales & Marketing
Gretchen Brakesman was raised for most of her life in Danville, CA….Enough of that drivel! Gretchen met Brian Brakesman at a bar in San Francisco on a lovely Friday night. All it took was that weekend, and they have been together ever since. Brian ripped Gretchen from her bubble in the city and immersed her in the wine business, head first. She has learned everything from working in the vineyard to bottling and wax dipping bottles. Gretchen has extensive experience in the many facets of the wine industry. Working in a variety of wine environments around the valley and the knowledge she has garnered first hand from her positions has given her the ability to not only multi-task but also self-sufficient in navigating the heavily regulated and complex wine business.
Gretchen was the opening director of sales and marketing at The Ranch Winery (a premiere custom crush facility) and served there for six years. Currently, along with helping manage Red Thread Wine Company, she is working as a consultant for H&A Barrel Financing. Most recently serving as the vice president of the Rutherford Dust Society. Her ability to communicate clearly and effectively along with her in-depth knowledge of the wine industry is a huge asset for Red Thread and communicating with their clients.