Winemaker Bryan Kvamme has worked with the Martinelli family since 1997. His passion for wine began in 1988 while working as a shepherd in Australia as part of an agricultural exchange program after graduating from UC Davis with a bachelor’s degree in Animal Science. With the Coonawarra wine region nearby, he became intrigued by the potential to apply his interest in agriculture to winemaking. “I’ve always been interested in farming and science so the thought of making a natural product like wine was really exciting,” he recalls.
After his time in Australia, he returned home to San Francisco, and worked in construction for his father, saving money for an eventual move into winemaking. His first introduction to the wine business came through a client, who arranged for Bryan to spend a day working the harvest in a Napa Valley winery. Having enjoyed the experience, he volunteered the following year to come help for a weekend. That connection eventually led to a harvest job at Napa Wine Company, a custom crush winery in Oakville.
Bryan learned the cellar ropes over a two-year period at Napa Wine Company. He returned to UC Davis for his second Bachelor of Science degree, this time in Enology. While at school, he interned his first summer break at Gloria Ferrer in the Carneros region and Benessere Winery in St. Helena the following summer.
Bryan got to know Winemaker Helen Turley during his time at Napa Wine Company. They stayed in touch during his time back at UC Davis and after graduating in 1997, she brought him on as cellar master at Martinelli Winery. He has worked at Martinelli ever since, and was promoted to winemaker in 2007.
As winemaker, Bryan believes in the importance of quality vineyard sites, their careful management, and the excellent fruit they can bring worth. He frequently tastes with George Martinelli and Lee Martinelli, Jr., but their discussions generally concern farming details rather than winemaking protocols. “Working at Martinelli has given me an appreciation for taking a natural approach,” he says. “We strive to have the excellence of the fruit dictate the flavors of Martinelli wines, not the winemaking.”
Bryan lives in Windsor, with his wife and four sons. To keep active he enjoys biking around Sonoma County as well as an occasional morning swim at the local pool.