Summit Lake Vineyards Introduces Second Generation Winemaker
After 45 years, Howell Mountain’s Summit Lake Vineyards owner Bob Brakesman is passing the torch to the next generation, as his son Brian Brakesman takes over as winemaker.
With more than 20 years of diverse winemaking experience, Brian Brakesman takes the helm, allowing Bob Brakesman more time to focus on vineyard management and future growth of the property.
“I consider myself extremely fortunate to be working on such an amazing piece of property that my family has been farming for over 45 years,” said Brian Brakesman. “We as a family and a business are excited to have this opportunity to grow and continuously strive to make better and better wines, year after year.”
“Summit Lake is a growing and thriving winery and I’m excited to watch that growth continue under Brian’s direction,” said Bob Brakesman.
Brian Brakesman studied Agricultural Engineering at California Polytechnic State University, San Luis Obispo, where he discovered his passion and aptitude for winemaking. After furthering his education and training abroad, he returned home to Napa Valley, where he worked alongside acclaimed consulting winemaker John Gibson, then as the assistant winemaker at Duckhorn Wine Company’s Paraduxx Winery and finally, as head winemaker at Ledson Winery in Sonoma.
Now back at home at Summit Lake Vineyards, Brian Brakesman has come full circle. His first steps are to focus on improving the quality of the wines by phasing out older equipment and preparing for future growth, so that the winery can eventually be passed down to the third generation. He also plans to plant new grape varietals in order to diversify their experimentation with blending, including cabernet franc, petite verdot and barbera.
“My ultimate goal as winemaker is to be able to pass the winery on to all the grandchildren,” he said.
Additionally, Brian Brakesman will be making wines at Summit Lake Vineyards for a new family project, Red Thread Wines, which he started with his wife Gretchen Brakesman along with their consulting company, Red Thread Wine Company. All Red Thread wines are estate made from the family’s Howell Mountain property and will also be available for tastings at Summit Lake Vineyards.
Red Thread’s first release was the 2014 Red Blend, and later this year, they will release the 2015 vintage and also a white zinfandel, made from 100 percent zinfandel grapes in order to embody a true rosé.
On May 6, 2017, the family will host a Red Thread release party and crawfish boil. Tickets can be purchased at redthreadwinewines.com/wines.
About Summit Lake Vineyards
Summit Lake Vineyards was founded in 1971 by Bob and Sue Brakesman and continues to operate as a family winery up on Howell Mountain. The distinctive Howell Mountain red soils and microclimate produce spectacular red wines, including Zinfandel, Petite Sirah and Cabernet Sauvignon, from the family’s 21 acres. For more information on Summit Lake Vineyards visit www.summitlakevineyards.com.
About Red Thread Wines
Red Thread Wines was started by husband-and-wife team Brian and Gretchen Brakesman. Sourced from the family’s Howell Mountain property, Summit Lake Vineyards, Red Thread so far produces a red blend and a white zinfandel made from 100 percent zinfandel grapes. For more information on Red Thread Wines, visit www.redthreadwines.com or www.redthreadwinecompany.com