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Our Heritage

At Brown Brothers we have tradition but we are not the traditional wine company. We are steeped in our family heritage and we have a history of innovation that inspires our future direction.

  • 2013 The 10th anniversary of the release of Patricia range of wines was marked by the re-opening of the renovated Family Cellar at the Milawa winery.Brown Brothers launched an innovative blend of Moscato and Sauvignon Blanc.
    Caroline Brown joined the business.
  • 2012 Devil’s Corner wines are given a new look based on the paintings of Tasmanian artists Rebecca Birrell. Devil’s Corner cellar door is opened on the east coast of Tasmania.In Milawa a relaxed food and wine venue, Epi.curious is opened and the Epicurean centre restaurant is renamed Patricia’s Table in honour of Patricia Brown.
  • 2011 Sparkling Moscato launched.
    Ross Brown retired as CEO and moved to the position of Executive Director.
    Roland Wahlquist was appointed CEO of Brown Brothers.
    Ross Brown was appointed Chairman of Australia’s First Families of Wine (AFFW) for two years.
  • 2010Brown Brothers purchased Tasmanian vineyards and a winery from Gunns Ltd. taking on the Devil’s Corner, Tamar Ridge, Pirie, South and Coombend wines.
  • 2009Brown Brothers launched the first release of Prosecco made from grapes grown in the Banksdale vineyard and the first release of Nero d’Avola, made from grapes grown in the Heathcote Vineyard in Central Victoria.
    Katherine Brown joined the business. Australia’s First Families of Wine (AFFW) was formed.
  • 2006Brown Brothers launched the first release of Nero d’Avola, imported from Sicily.
  • 2005 Work on the establishment of Brown Brothers newest vineyard, Lake Charm passes an important milestone with 180ha planted in the winter of 2005. Plantings comprise of Dolcetto, Cienna, Chardonnay and Shiraz. The plantings are twice the size of any planting previously undertaken by the company with a further 150ha available for planting. This vineyard will be an important fruit source for Brown Brothers Dolcetto & Syrah and Cienna. Unique to Brown Brothers these two wines are gaining broad appeal.
  • 2005John Graham Brown awarded Officer of the Order of Australia (AO). Eliza Brown became the first woman Director and Board Member of Brown Brothers, Milawa.
  • 2004John Charles Brown passed away in May, age 89, as his 70th vintage at Milawa drew to a close. His wife, Patricia, passed away later that year in September, age 89.
  • 2003 Brown Brothers mark a significant new chapter in their 130 year history with the release of a new flagship range of wines. The new Brown Brothers range is named after Patricia Brown, wife of John Charles Brown. The name is a dedication for Patricia’s hard work and the love she has given her family. The range consists of six varietals including: Patricia Pinot Chardonnay Brut, Patricia Chardonnay, Patricia Cabernet Sauvignon, Patricia Shiraz, Patricia Merlot and Patricia Late Harvested Noble Riesling. The range is a result of seven years of intense vineyard study which has seen Brown Brothers identify specific vineyard sites that have the potential to produce outstanding fruit quality on a regular basis.
  • 2003 John Charles Brown receives a Restaurant and Catering Australia Lifetime Achievement Award at Parliament House. The Lifetime Achievement Award follows on from the same recognition at the Restaurant & Catering Victorian Awards for Excellence. The award is recognition for his outstanding achievement as a pioneering winemaker, developer of regional tourism and supporter of the broader industry.
  • 2001 Ross Brown is appointed Chief Executive in April when his brother, John Graham Brown relinquishes the role. John retains the Chairman’s position on the Board albeit in a non-executive capacity. The Company introduces contemporary packaging for the product range. The first change in 17 years, introducing 3 label designs that ensure differentiation between the various wine segments. Banksdale Vineyard receives ‘The Victorian Wine Show Vineyard of the Year’ award. The vineyard was assessed on aspects of financial and business planning, productivity, fruit and wine quality, adoption of new technology and overall management of resources. For the second time the Non Vintage Pinot Noir Chardonnay wins the prestigious, ‘Sparkling Wine of the Year’ trophy at the International Wine Challenge in the UK. The 1999 Banksdale Shiraz wins two trophies at the Melbourne Wine Show – The Premier’s Gold Trophy and The Wine Press Club of Victoria Trophy. For the second consecutive year the Noble Riesling wins the Willmes Trophy at the National Wine Show for the 1999 Noble Riesling. To cap off a fabulous year the 1996 Pinot Chardonnay Brut wins the Winestate Magazine, Sparkling Wine of the Year Trophy and is runner-up across all wine categories for the Wine of the Year Award.
  • 2000 The 1997 Noble Riesling wins the Willmes Trophy for the Best Sweet Wine at the National Wine Show. It is considered the ‘grand final’ of wine shows as only wines that have previously won either a medal at a Capital City show or gold medal at a regional show are eligible for entry.With several classes for sweet wines numerous gold medal wines are in the running for the trophy, which effectively means that the 1997 Noble Riesling was judged the best sweet wine in Australia.
  • 1999 For the second consecutive year, the 1995 Pinot Chardonnay Brut takes out the Thorp Trophy for ‘Best Sparkling White Wine’ at the Sydney Wine Show.The Company launches its new advertising campaign – the style and tone is contemporary and reflects the desired brand attributes – innovative, confident, bold, relevant and stylish. Brown Brothers releases its book, Not A Bad Drop written by veteran journalist and storyteller Keith Dunstan.
  • 1998 The 1996 Noble Riesling wins four more trophies for Best Sweet White Wine on the 1998 Wine Show circuit, namely at the Melbourne Wine Show, Rutherglen Wine Show, Victorian Wine Show and Hobart Wine Show. The 1995 Pinot Chardonnay Brut wins the Thorp Trophy for Best Sparkling White Wine at the Sydney Wine Show. The Company purchases land north of Colbinabbin, near Corop in Central Victoria, on what is known as the Mount Camel range. The land totals nearly 500 acres and will be planted to red varieties. Brown Brothers is the first Australian Wine Company to launch a Moscato in the Australian market, reinforcing its position as a genuine product innovator and leader in Italian varietal development.
  • 1997 The company receives two prestigious wine awards – The ‘Sparkling Wine of the Year’ trophy for the Non Vintage Pinot Noir and Chardonnay at the International Wine Challenge in the UK, and the Premier’s Gold Trophy for a Muscat at the Melbourne Wine Show.
  • 1996 Cynthia Louise Brown, daughter of John Graham and June Brown joins the company and completes her first vintage at Milawa, followed by work within the Direct Customer Services area. The same year, John Andrew Brown the only son of John Graham and June moved to the winery to assist with vintage. A few years later John accepted responsibility for Information Technology support. In early 2005, both John and Cynthia elected to resign their formal positions within the company to pursue personal and business interests unrelated to Brown Brothers. It is a natural expectation of the Brown Family that family members’ personal growth and professional development will encompass time working both in and outside Brown Brothers.
  • 1994 John Charles Brown celebrates his 60th vintage. Two major events in the growth of the winery take place. Brown Brothers purchases the Banksdale Vineyard on the western fringe of the King Valley. With the variations in climate this would allow for selection of the ideal site for any variety and style of wine. The Milawa Epicurean Centre, a restaurant dedicated to the subtle and unusual art of matching not wine to food, but food to wine, is opened adjacent to the Cellar Door. The Centre is open to the public all year except for Christmas Day and Good Friday from 11.00am to 3.00pm. John Andrew Brown joins his father and grandfather at the winery – the fourth generation of family winemakers at Milawa.
  • 1990 The Viticultural Research & Development team is created with the aim of accelerating Brown Brothers’ pioneering work in the vineyard.
  • 1989 Brown Brothers celebrate 100 years of family winemaking at Milawa. A new mini ‘Kindergarten’ winery is established to produce the smaller lots of wine for Cellar Door releases, fortified, sparkling wine and the new Whitlands range. The new winery will allow experimental winemaking to be pursued into the second century of Brown Brothers Milawa Vineyard. John Charles Brown’s efforts were acknowledged, when his contribution to the wine industry was recognised with the Queen’s Birthday honours awarding him the Membership of the Order of Australia.
  • 1987 Brown Brothers hold their first Wine & Food Weekend, a showcase of North East Victoria’s legendary spring weather, live music, relaxed entertainment and the region’s finest food and wine.
  • 1984 John Charles Brown celebrates his 50th vintage by planting 10 acres of Tokay (Muscadelle) at the family’s ‘King Park’ property on the King River at Oxley.
  • 1982 The Whitlands Vineyard, 800 metres above the King Valley, is purchased and vine plantings begin immediately, including Rhine Riesling, Gewürztraminer, Pinot Noir, Chardonnay, Cabernet Franc, Merlot, Pinot Meunier, Muscat Blanc, Seigerrebe, Reichensteiner, Nebbiolo, Pinot Prescoe, Pinot Gris and Scheurebe.
  • 1980 Another major redevelopment sees the present Cellar Door tasting room built. The family purchases St Leonards winery in Wahgunyah in North East Victoria.
  • 1978 The beginning of an almost continuous succession of good vintages.
  • 1977 Another disaster. A mini cyclone and hail storm hits Milawa, almost destroying the winery, and virtually wiping out the vintage from the Milawa Vineyard. Ironically the Everton Hills Vineyard is sold, due to diminishing yields; signalling the end of an era.
  • 1974 The Hurdle Creek vineyard is established on the original Brown family property, three miles from Milawa where John Francis Brown was born in 1867. Plantings include 40 acres of Cabernet Sauvignon, and 10 acres of Portuguese varieties for Port production. A further 40 acres at Milawa are planted to Traminer, Rhine Riesling and Chardonnay.
  • 1970 The first of a succession of excellent vintage years, including Brown Brothers second and subsequent vintages of Noble Riesling. New ‘potter’ fermenters are installed at Milawa, allowing the quick extraction of free run grape juice with minimal oxidisation – a factor which dramatically improves the varietal flavour of Brown Brothers white wines. Encouraged by the Brown family, graziers Guy Darling and John Leviny established the ‘Koombahla’ and ‘Meadow Creek’ vineyards, pioneering viticulture in the King Valley. Over a dozen more vineyards will be established there in the next decade.
  • 1968 A severe frost destroys the 1968 vintage. The family buys an 80 acre property on Kangaroo Lake in the Murray Valley, securing for themselves a frost-free vineyard. The new ‘Mystic Park’ Vineyard is replanted with Mataro, Carignane, Cinsaut, Grenache, Sylvaner, Traminer, Chenin Blanc, Colombard, Flora, Orange Muscat and Ruby Cabernet. The Mystic Park Vineyard is to eventually reach 346 acres of vines. Excellent underground water is discovered beneath the Milawa Vineyard – allowing development of irrigation to prevent drought and frost.
  • 1962 Refrigeration is installed at Milawa – a first for North East Victorian Wineries. Australia’s first commercial vintage of Botrytisized Rhine Riesling, four hogsheads of Noble Riesling, is made from late harvested Milawa Vineyard Riesling.
  • 1961 A hydraulic grape press replaces the hand presses.
  • 1960 Vine planting recommences at Milawa to meet a rapidly growing demand for wine. The new plantings are predominantly red grapes. The Milawa Vineyard now reaches 140 acres.
  • 1958 John Graham Brown joins his father at the winery – the third generation of family winemakers at Milawa.
  • 1954 A very good vintage; the culmination of a string of good years which forces further expansion of wine storage at Milawa.
  • 1950 The 117 acres ‘Everton Hills’ property in hill country to the North East of Milawa is purchased. A third of the property is cleared and planted to vines. Everton Hills wines are to become renowned for low quantity, high quality and for their ageing potential.
  • 1945 Purchase of grapes from local growers boosts the vintage to 140 tons. The old Barn is floored with bricks and used for additional wine storage.
  • 1943 Drought restricts production to below the sales quota level.
  • 1939 Eight inches of rain in February breaks two years of drought and very poor vintages. Wine sales quotas were introduced (supposedly to assist in Australia’s war effort).
  • 1938 A plague of grasshoppers destroys the 1938 vintage.
  • 1937 Further replanting of the 38-acre Milawa Vineyard begins with Shiraz, Cabernet, Grenache, Riesling, Tokay, White Grenache, White Hermitage, Palomino and Muscat varieties.
  • 1934 The first sighting of Botrytis Cinerea ‘Noble Rot’ at Milawa (then considered a fungal pest). Brown Brothers table wines find a ready market among the newly arrived Italian tobacco growers in the Ovens Valley.
  • 1933 John Charles Brown joins his father on the Milawa Vineyard. 6000 gallons of Tawny Port is exported to London in oak hogsheads.
  • 1922 A kerosene engine replaces the old winery horseworks.
  • 1920 The original vineyard is by now completely removed. The new plantings are returning the vineyard to full production. A total of 33 acres has been replanted with Riesling, Tokay, Chasselas, Shiraz (from the old vineyard); new plantings of Muscat, Mondeuse, Semillon, Graciano and Cabernet Sansay (Franc) are added. Production is now 10,000 gallons annually. Almost all sales are to wine merchants in Melbourne.
  • 1916 1916-1917 Very good vintages. Suspecting Phylloxera in the Milawa Vineyard, 12,000 grafted Phylloxera resistant American rootlings are ordered in 1916, a further 20,000 in 1917, to begin the replanting of the vineyard.
  • 1905 The ‘new’ winery is further extended. Milawa Vineyard now totals 38 acres of vines, yielding an average of 300 gallons per acre in a normal season. A horse driven grape crusher is installed.
  • 1902 A brick distillery for production of fortifying spirit is built where today’s Cellar Door stands – in use until 1914. A substantial order of 3000 gallons of Dry Red Shiraz is sold to St. Leonards Winery at Wahgunyah for one shilling and four pence per gallon.
  • 1898 John Francis Brown borrows £200 to build a new weatherboard winery.
  • 1891 Government Viticulturist Francois de Castella reports on “the excellent quality of Mr. Brown’s Riesling and Hermitage (Shiraz)”.
  • 1889 The first Milawa wine is produced in the old Barn, which is used as the winery for the first 10 years.
  • 1885 John Francis Brown, aged 18 (John Graham’s grandfather), plants 10 acres of mostly Riesling, Muscat and Shiraz grapes on the Milawa property. Located in the lower reaches of the King Valley in North East Victoria, the Milawa Vineyard is the birth place of the Brown Brothers company. Surrounding the Epicurean Centre and Cellar Door, the Milawa Vineyard is the fruit source for renowned wines such as Patricia Noble Riesling, Shiraz Mondeuse & Cabernet and Dolcetto. It is also home to Brown Brothers’ winemaking facilities where grapes are received, crushed and made into quality wine.
  • 1860 The Milawa property was bought at the first land auction on the Oxley Plains by John Graham (who had earlier emigrated from Scotland via Canada). The vineyard and orchard was established. The Canadian Barn, which still stands today, was built for hay and grain storage.

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