Philippe Melka— Director of Winemaking
"Over the last 18 years I have been involved in very few projects where I've felt from the start that there was something special, like BRAND. It could be because of the chemistry of the team, the amazing site or something else. What I do know is from Ed and Deb Fitts the owners, Josh the vineyard manager, Juancarlos the architect, they all are dedicated to work really hard for excellence. So, with my general philosophy of letting the grapes shine throughout our wines, plus having integrity, respect, friendship, gentle winemaking using gravity and lots of fun, I certainly believe that we should reach our goals" For the last 15 years, Philippe has made an extraordinary winemaking contribution in Napa Valley. His undergraduate degree in Geology from University of Bordeaux and a Masters in Agronomy and Enology were the foundation for his continued fascination with soil and it’s influence on the quality of wine. Fortunate in his mentors and with a worldly perspective gained by working at some of the world’s best estates including Chateau Haut Brion, Dominus Estate, Chittering Estate, Badia O Coltibuono and Chateau Petrus, Philippe brings to BRAND a wealth of experience. Philippe and his wife Cherie own Melka Wines together and have two children.
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Matt Johnson— Winemaker
Although he grew up only an hour away from our Pritchard Hill estate, Matt Johnson took a round-about path to becoming Winemaker at BRAND Napa Valley. A few months into his studies in Agribusiness at Cal Poly, San Luis Obispo; Matt was introduced to the world of wine by a newly made friend. This chance encounter planted a seed that grew into a deep interest and passion in wine. After changing majors and obtaining a B.S. in Wine and Viticulture, Matt ventured out to gain work experience at wineries in Argentina, South Africa, Edna Valley, and Calistoga before settling down in Saint Helena and working his way up to Associate Winemaker at Dana Estates. Having served as Philippe Melka’s protégé for 5 years prior to joining the team at BRAND Napa Valley, Matt and Philippe now work hand in hand in pursuit of crafting the distinct, site-driven wines of our sliver of Pritchard Hill. With a keen attention to detail, broad range of experience, and relentless enthusiasm; Matt endeavors to be a steward of our vineyards and the wines they produce.
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Robbie Crabb—Cellar Master
Robbie grew up on the Puget Sound just outside of Seattle, and turned his early passion for local wine into a career, attending Walla Walla Community College where he earned a degree in enology and viticulture. After several years of time divided between harvests in Walla Walla and salmon seasons in Alaska where he worked on a commercial fishing boat, Robbie accepted an internship at Somerston Wine Company in Napa Valley where his work ethic and cellar skills earned him coveted internships in New Zealand and Australia. In 2015 Robbie was invited to join the BRAND team and currently puts his considerable talent and knowledge to work leading our Cellar team.
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Josh Clark—Vineyard Management
"The dramatic site on which BRAND's vineyards and winery are located has directed the project from the beginning. The vineyards demand a high level of presence and commitment and are guided by Ed’s singular vision for excellence." Clark grew up at his father’s side in the vineyards of Napa Valley. With his degrees in Agricultural Engineering and Agricultural Business from California Polytechnic State University, Clark’s passion for worldwide wine and food was ignited by a trip to Europe where he toured the classic wine growing regions and discovered the “old world” wines of Italy, France and Spain. His return to the Napa Valley in 1999 to take over the management of Clark Vineyard Management allowed Clark to do something special on this global stage of wine making. Clark and his wife Heather also own their own wine label, Saunter and have three children.
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