Nestled in the picturesque Sta. Rita Hills of Santa Barbara County, California, Brewer-Clifton has carved a prominent place among the region’s top wine producers. Established in 1996 by Greg Brewer and Steve Clifton, the winery’s dedication to crafting exceptional single-vineyard Chardonnay and Pinot Noir has garnered widespread acclaim in the wine industry.
Before venturing into winemaking, Steve Clifton’s life journey encompassed diverse passions, including surfing and a career as a rock singer in San Diego. Eventually, his path led him to Santa Barbara County, where he honed his winemaking skills at various local wineries. Greg Brewer, on the other hand, took a unique route to winemaking. Initially a French professor at the University of California, Santa Barbara, he ventured into the world of wine with a burning desire to create single-vineyard wines that were relatively rare on the Central Coast at that time.
Pooling their resources and dreams, Clifton and Brewer co-founded Brewer-Clifton, setting up their winery in Lompoc, approximately 160 miles (260km) west of Los Angeles. The winery’s focus on single-vineyard Chardonnay and Pinot Noir sets it apart, and this dedication to quality and authenticity has earned them a loyal following.
The Sta. Rita Hills, benefiting from a maritime influence, provides an ideal terroir for the cultivation of grapes. The cool climate and extended growing season result in complexity and depth in the fruit, which translates into their wines. Brewer-Clifton’s meticulous winemaking process includes the use of French barriques from Sirugue in Burgundy, enhancing the wine’s character and contributing to its full-bodied expression.
Owned by Jackson Family Wines since 2017, Brewer-Clifton is part of a larger portfolio of wine labels, including diatom and Ex Post Facto, which Greg Brewer also oversees. However, Brewer-Clifton remains true to its roots, relying on estate-grown fruit from five distinct vineyard sites: Gnesa, Machado, 3-D, Hapgood, and Acin.
The dedication to showcasing the unique attributes of each vineyard is reflected in their single-site Pinot Noir and Chardonnay wines, each telling a story of its origin. Additionally, the winery produces a méthode traditionnelle sparkling wine, sourced from the 3-D vineyard.
The wines crafted by Brewer-Clifton have consistently earned high praise from critics, frequently scoring in the 90s. In recognition of their excellence, the winery’s 2012 vintage of Sta. Rita Hills Pinot Noir secured an impressive #8 spot in Wine Spectator’s Top 100 Wines in 2014. Notably, in 2020, Greg Brewer was crowned Winemaker of the Year by Wine Enthusiast magazine, further solidifying Brewer-Clifton’s position as a prominent force in the world of California winemaking.