Robert Brittan left Stags’ Leap Winery in Napa after 16 years as Winemaker and Estate Manager to fulfill his dream of making Pinot Noir and Syrah from unique sites in cooler climates. His winemaking career began in his dorm room at Oregon State University, where he was a physics and philosophy major.
Being both geeky and broke, he soon realized that alcohol was an attractant to co-eds, so he began his career in fermentation sciences in order to get a date. He ultimately completed his education at UC Davis and moved to Napa Valley, where he made wines for Far Niente, Saint Andrews and Stags’ Leap Winery.
With 45 years of experience growing grapes and making wine, he brings a significant amount of viticultural and winemaking knowledge to Brittan Vineyards. He has always had a passion for Pinot Noir, and hopes that with the fruit from the Brittan estate vineyard in the foothills of the Coastal Range, he can bring a new voice to the McMinnville AVA, and help form the style and definition of Pinot Noir from this recently designated winegrowing region.
In addition to his own wines, Robert is also the winemaker for several other brands, to include: deLancellotti, Fairsing and Winderlea. As a result, Robert is now making wines from all six of the sub-AVA’s of the Willamette Valley and has learned first hand that Pinot Noir lends itself to many wonderful interpretations, depending on the soils and microclimates where it is grown.
Ellen has always had a passion for food and wine, so after spending the first twenty years of her career working in Financial Services, she finally decided to give up the corporate world to do something she would do even if she didn’t get paid to do it.
After working in a lovely little family winery in Yountville, she joined Rudd Winery in Oakville, where she had the wonderful opportunity to launch and manage a new luxury wine brand for Leslie Rudd. In the course of her ten years with the Rudd Group, she also was involved in the group’s other food and spirits related projects, to include Dean & DeLuca, Edge Hill Winery, Distillery No. 209, PRESS Restaurant and Oakville Grocery. It was a dream come true to be immersed in a world of gourmet food and luxury wine and spirits.
Having grown up in Seattle, studying French and Spanish Language & Literature at the University of Washington, she longed to return to her North West roots, so needless to say she was thrilled to be joint owner of the beautiful Brittan Vineyards winery in McMinnville.
While Robert oversees the vineyard and winemaking, Ellen manages the business operations for Brittan Vineyards. In addition, Ellen has worked as General Manager for the Carlton Winemakers’ Studio and as the Director of Wine Education at Linfield College. In order to give back to a wine community that has been so welcoming and supportive, she has also served as Chair of the Oregon Wine Board, President of the Oregon Winegrowers’ Association, and Chair of the International Pinot Noir Celebration. She currently sits on the board of Visit McMinnville and is a member of the Linfield Wine Education Advisory Council.
Emily Terrell, Associate Winemaker
A lifelong lover of cooking, gardening and wild places, Emily Terrell felt the pull of winemaking from the basement of the University of Washington chemistry building during her last year of undergraduate studies. To avoid any rash decisions, she earned her M.Sc. in Food Science/Wine Biotech at the University of British Columbia before launching into the world of punchdowns, pumpovers and more sticky grape juice than she ever thought possible.
She spent the next three years in the cellars, vineyards and labs of New Zealand, Australia, Canada and France enjoying great wines, hard work and the formative worldwide friendships that are such a hallmark of the industry. A growing interest in the site-driven nuances of Pinot noir and the ennui of endless travel led Emily to the beautiful Willamette Valley for the 2012 harvest in the Dundee Hills.
In 2013, she joined the team at Brittan Vineyards where it has been her great pleasure to grow with such a dynamic family business focused on making unique Estate wines of distinction.