It may look like Kosta Browne, a Sonoma winery that makes striking pinot noir, was an overnight success. But the winery wasn’t always a multi-million dollar operationwith the cachet to attract such high-powered investors.


Kosta Browne recently sold a controlling interest to Vincraft for close to $40 million. Vincraft is a Sonoma-based investment firm that is putting together a portfolio of California wineries. Founders Dan Kosta and Michael Browne were looking for a new partner to free up some of the winery’s original investors, now in their 60s and 70s, who wanted to cash out.

In the wine world, Kosta Browne became a household name with its 2003 vintage, which garnered plenty of praise in print. But for Kosta and Browne, like most people, the truth is it takes a long time to be an overnight success. The duo began pooling tips while working at Santa Rosa’s John Ash restaurant, with their first major release in 2000.

If you follow Kosta Browne, here’s something you may not know. While a panelist in a blind tasting for the Press Democrat, Kosta was able to accurately detect cabernet that was made from mountain-grown fruit versus cab that was made from valley-floor fruit. It was a tough tasting and while many of the panelists surprised me with their ability, Kosta was the most impressive. (If Browne had been on that particular panel, I don’t doubt he would have been equally impressive.)

I love reading about Kosta Browne’s success because whenever I do, I smile thinking tips are too often overlooked as investment capital.