Picture this, an old lady fussing about in her kitchen. She takes four teacups and places them in the oven. Not for too long. Just until they are hot. Too hot to touch. She takes them carefully out of the oven and places them on the table, next to the steaming hot pot of tea. In walk four of her sons. They take a chair at the kitchen table as their mother pours them a cup of tea. The cups are too hot to touch. They stay that way for a while. The boys linger, telling storing, sharing tales of the family business, tales of the winery. The woman is happy. Her plan to keep them there is working. The hotter the tea, the longer they stayed. A brilliant plan.
This woman is the mother of four of the Brown brothers who worked at Brown Brothers Winery and grandmother to Katherine Brown and Caroline Brown, the fourth generation of Browns and the next generation taking over the reigns of the vineyard.
Now picture this. Three young, beautiful and driven Brown daughters, sent off into the big bad world with a nonnegotiable task of four years working outside the family business before being allowed back. A beautiful clause they have there. It encourages hard work and avoids entitlement. And it has worked. The daughters ooze with appreciation of the business and a keenness to continue the legacy.
I was recently lucky enough to take a chair at a table with the Browns and members of Brown Brothers Winery. In a loft studio their chef from Miliwa cooked up a storm. We drank the 18 Eighty Nine range of wines, in perfect order – I was conveniently sitting next to Roland the CEO. He knows how things are meant to be done. The 18 Eighty Nine range is the dry crisp style of wines Brown Brothers are lesser known for. But, these wines are, in my opinion, better than the sweet ones people know them for.
The daughters shared stories while we sipped a fruity Chardonnay, a Shiraz made in Heathcote and a savoury Cabernet Sauvignon. We tasted John Dory escabeche with pickled beetroots, Nug Nug goat sausage rolls with freekeh tabbouleh and a collection of Milawa cheeses that would have converted any cheese hater in the room. Among many other things, I can assure you.
I walked away with more than respect for the stunning wines and delicate and well executed food. I walked away with a respect for the business, a respect for the people who run it and a respect for the way they view their customers. They grown 37 different varietals, they have five vineyards in Victoria and three in Tasmania and over 40 growers elsewhere across the country. But at the end of the day, they are passionate Browns. This new generation of Browns is going to be more like Brown Sisters and I can’t wait to see what they do with the business.
*Some of this was published on Concrete Playground as part of a wider article.