Greg started his career as a French instructor at UC Santa Barbara before being trained in wine production at Santa Barbara Winery starting in 1991. He created his eponymous label, Brewer-Clifton with original partner Steve Clifton in 1996 and was the winemaker at another Santa Barbara County winery from its inception in 1997 through the end of 2015. Greg additionally created the label, Diatom, focusing on starkly raised Chardonnay, and Ex Post Facto, a Santa Barbara County Syrah. The entirety of his career has been committed to the Sta. Rita Hills appellation, which he helped to map, define, and establish in 1997.
Greg Brewer’s primary focus in the winery is the pursuit of refinement. He is engaged in every aspect of his work, from vineyard to market, and every level of the process is given equal priority and appreciation. The goal is the beauty and synchronicity of the system. The result is wine that is honest and driven, expressive of the place and the team who collectively steward them.
At Brewer-Clifton, Diatom and Ex Post Facto, there is an utmost respect for nature and the team that nurtures it. We believe that when working with a product of nature, it is necessary to maintain an awareness of the elements that may be beyond our understanding and control. Any intervention in the natural evolution of the product must be carried out with the utmost attentiveness and care.
We believe that the geographic, geologic, and climatic uniqueness of the Sta. Rita Hills appellation provides an ideal place to grow chardonnay and pinot noir grapes of intensity, complexity, and specificity. Within this appellation, each vineyard carries its own imprint. Our mission and indeed our passion is to present wines that convey the characteristics inherent to each of these sites, with uncompromising quality.
ART + LIFE
Greg has always followed a distinct and deliberate arc in his work, where the priority is service, subtracting extraneous elements and minimizing the insertion of self. He reveres the repetitive and monastic nature of the winemaking craft, and after 25 years in the business is firmly committed to the immediate task at hand. This focus shifts the motivation behind the wine from ego towards humility. For Greg, it is only along this path that the resultant product conveys the sincerity and vulnerability that is his goal, both personally and professionally.
In His Own Words
WINEMAKER OF THE YEAR
Wine Enthusiast Magazine named Greg Brewer the 2020 Winemaker of the Year. View more press and accolades here.
In 1995, Greg Brewer and Steve Clifton met while working on a committee for the Santa Barbara Vintners’ Association. At the time both held production jobs at Sunstone and Beckmen, respectively, and forged an immediate friendship that would ultimately germinate in the creation of Brewer-Clifton just one year later.
Saving modest disposable income over a period of twelve months, $12,000 was set aside and fruit contracts secured to produce an inaugural 240 cases of wine within Santa Barbara Winery where Greg held the role of assistant winemaker in 1996. Always having their sights locked on an area that they would personally later map and define as the Sta. Rita Hills, they utilized relationships in the neighboring Santa Maria Valley for the majority of their fruit as vineyards were being developed closer to home. One exception to that adjacent provenance was Sweeney Canyon which Brewer-Clifton produced without interruption from 1996 through 2011.
When considering a logo and label, a priority was something that would not run the risk of being dated and that could remain timeless. The Wine Cask restaurant in Santa Barbara was an incubator for food and wine professionals during that time, and the hand stenciled gold ceiling of the dining room proved to be an ideal and subtle reference to carry through that message of tradition and region. A few exposures with a disposable camera then developed, photocopied and colored in with a black Sharpie pen and the brand took flight.
After brief periods being housed within other wineries of employ, Brewer-Clifton created their first stand alone facility in Lompoc in 2000. Nestled immediately between the local legend Rick Longoria and the upstart Sea Smoke, Y2K was a pivotal impasse both for Brewer-Clifton and Sta. Rita Hills which was identified and approved as an American Viticultural Area (AVA) that same year.
In the December 2001 Wine Advocate, Robert Parker Jr. wrote in his year-end summary that “The wines of Brewer-Clifton were the single greatest revelation of all of [his] 2001 tastings.” Greg was not initially aware of this until he looked at his cell phone and realized he had fifty new voicemails by 6:00 am and his voicemail box was full. He spent the next few days with legal pads transcribing names and addresses as fast as he could to free up space for incoming voicemails. Not only was the flattering commentary an accolade of a lifetime, the timing was really beyond perfect, with the nature of mailing list purchasing at that time. It was of course incredibly advantageous for Brewer-Clifton, it was also very bolstering for Santa Barbara County as a whole to have such a prominent voice of confidence for our landscape.
Fueled by unbridled confidence and unprecedented media attention, Brewer-Clifton swiftly sought to better secure vineyard provenance which gave birth to their farming company shepherded by Francisco Ramirez in 2005. Greg and Francisco developed, planted and built Melville vineyard and winery in the mid 1990s and the decade working together there fostered the elite vineyard team that would eventually create Brewer-Clifton’s estate vineyards. This now includes sixty acres across four separate parcels within the AVA.
2012 marked the first vintage where all the fruit produced hailed from estate vineyards within appellation. That year The Wine Spectator deemed the 2012 Sta. Rita Hills Pinot Noir as the #8 Wine of the Year, picked from all the wines submitted to the publication from the entire world.
In 2017, Brewer-Clifton joined Jackson Family Wines, a company equally committed to singular, site-specific, Chardonnay and Pinot Noir. Greg Brewer notes, “The Jackson family maintains a commitment to world-class wines, a respect for nature and vision for uncompromising quality that’s very much aligned with our philosophy, I’m confident our collective strengths will further propel the Sta. Rita Hills on the global stage of fine wines.”
In 2020, Greg Brewer was named Winemaker of the Year by the Wine Enthusiast for their annual Wine Star Awards. In Greg’s words - “The honor that I feel to receive the prestigious Wine Enthusiast Wine Star Award for Winemaker of the Year is only rivaled by that which I have felt to represent the Sta. Rita Hills of Santa Barbara County for the entirety of my thirty year career.”
Interested in Meeting Greg Brewer?
Greg has hosted dozens of private group experiences and tastings, speaking not only to wine, but business, art, and travel as well. Learn more about booking Greg for a private event or meeting him at one of our public events.