1. Who or what inspired you to become a winemaker?
I think everyone who has a passion for wine has had those “ahh-huh” wines or epiphany wines that drove them to know more to get a deeper understanding of wine. I have had several but my first was when I first started in fine dining as a back waiter and the General Manager let me try a 1985 Cheval Blanc, to say I was hooked is an understatement. I couldn’t get enough, buying every book I could find and buying wine to learn more. About a year later I met Jed Steele and again was hooked. That was a big push for me in the direction of winemaking.
2. If you weren’t working with wine what do you think you’d be doing instead?
Restaurateur, Chef. I love food and wine and really all beverages and the restaurant world. I feel at home in the restaurant culture.
3. What current wine trend do you particularly like (or dislike)?
I like and dislike the same trend. Wines are becoming more refined and elegant, with less alcohol and more restraint. I think sometimes the human condition makes us swing to far. I believe wines got too big and too alcoholic, without definition or restraint, but to swing so far to the other side that they lose some amount of pleasure and become too focused and somewhat lost, is also a problem. Reactionary measures are only reactionary, and cause you lose touch with the real premise of wine…pleasure!
4. What is your go-to wine (varietal, region) – other than Washington, of course!
WOW, there are many but to make it simple Sauvignon Blanc from the Liore Valley preferably Pouilly or Sancerre.
5. What advice can you offer to a first time wine drinker?
Explore everything, taste with people and talk about wine but don’t get caught up into whether or not you like what others do. Like what you like and develop your palate. Don’t get stuck saying, “I only drink…” It is the kiss of death in developing your palate. Try it, you may surprise yourself.
6. If you could make wine with any winemaker in the world, who would it be?
There are so many…however I would have to say Didier Dagueneau for his irreverent attitude in winemaking. He passed away in 2008.
7. What do you like to do when you are not making wine?
Golf, reading, cooking and hanging with my wife Paige
8.What charitable organization pulls at your heartstrings?
Any thing for kids, Seattle Chidren’s Hospital is a big one.
Meet Brennon Leighton at the upcoming Auction of Washington Wines 25th anniversary Picnic & Barrel Auction. Or sit with him at the Wine Gala.
Visit www.auctionofwashingtonwines.com for more information.