Kosta Browne Winery, in Sebastopol, was founded in 1997 when Dan Kosta and Michael Browne pooled their money to buy a half ton of Pinot Noir grapes and a used grape crusher. The men had been colleagues at a Santa Rosa restaurant, but dreamt of making their own wine. In 2001 they teamed up with Chris Costello, who provided the winemaking pair with a business plan and operational support. Today the three partners still run Kosta Browne, which does not have its own vineyards but sources grapes from the Russian River, Sonoma Coast and Santa Lucia Highlands. Kosta Browne makes only Pinot Noir, and has in little more than a decade developed a strong following for its wines, which are generally single vineyard bottlings. Most Kosta Browne wines are sold through their mailing list.
Russian River Valley AVA is named for the river that meanders from Mendocino County in the north until it finally runs into the Pacific Ocean north of San Francisco. The AVA is cool thanks to its proximity to the northern California coast and the river, and grape growers must learn to deal with regular fog. Nevertheless in recent decades the AVA has become one of the best in the state, meaning that its wines often earn excellent reviews and have considerable cachet. The AVA status was awarded in 1983 and today the appellation has 15,000 vineyard acres. Chardonnay is the most widely planted grape though Pinot Noir has also been very successful in recent decades. Russian River Valley Pinot Noir are known for being rich, lush and filled with concentrated fruit and berry flavors. Russian River Pinot Noirs are today considered some of the best domestic Pinot Noirs.
This white variety originated in Burgundy, but is now grown around the world. Its flexibility to thrive in many regions translates to wide flavor profile in the market. Chardonnay is commonly used in making Champagne and sparkling wines.