Winemaker/ Owner

Millésimé Cellars Winemaker Biography:

The road to becoming winemaker/vintner for Millesime Cellars hasn't necessarily been a direct route for Brittany Rice. In retrospect, however, it seems as though it was predestined. On my twelfth birthday I helped plant the first Merlot grapes on my family's estate vineyard, she recalls. For the most part I grew up on the Sunstone Estate Vineyards in the Santa Ynez Valley in Santa Barbara Wine Country. After living away from the area through part of high school and college, it wasnt until returning to Santa Ynez in 1999 that Brittany began to participate in the winemaking process itself.

Although, at that point in her life, she didn't think she wanted a career in the wine industry. I didn't really know what direction I wanted to go, she admits.A serious downhill ski competitor, Brittany attended Sierra Nevada College in Lake Tahoe, where she majored in fine arts and photography for three years. Not quite ready to settle on any one thing, Brittany decided to explore the culinary arts. I always had a passion for cooking, she says. Time spent working as a private chef and a brief stay at Santa Barbara City College testing the waters of culinary school convinced her it was the right move. At that point, she says, I knew I really wanted to explore a culinary career.

In 2002, she went to the California Culinary Academy in San Francisco, where she completed the Cordon Bleu program that led her to her internship at the Four Seasons Biltmore in Santa Barbara under the guidance of Executive Chef Martin Frost and Executive Pastry Chef Don Hall.Though she was focused on becoming formally trained in the culinary industry, Brittany continued to delve deeper into winemaking at Sunstone with each passing year as she participated on the wine production team each harvest. By the time she was done with her culinary internship, her winemaking career was in full swing, becoming the assistant winemaker in 2003.

Brittany received hands on training at Sunstone by one of the most respected winemakers on the Central Coast, Daniel Gehrs, whose wines have continuously caught the attention of critics and magazines. He has won many winemaker awards, including one for producing a wine rated as one of the top 10 wines in the world according to Wine Spectator. Add to that her UC Davis winemaking courses and mentoring with viticulture management specialist Jeff Newton of Coastal Vineyard Care and Associates, and it becomes clear that Brittany has been well prepared and educated by the best for her transition in 2005 into the responsibility of winemaker at Sunstone, and when she began producing her first vintage for Millesime Cellars.

From here, the future is looking bright for both Brittany and Millesime Cellars. Whether its in the poetry she is creating in the kitchen, behind a camera lens, with a pen and paper, or in the cellar room, she has an artists touch; an ability to showcase beauty no matter what the medium. But don't take our word for it. The proof is in the wines and the beautiful photography art she produces for her Millesime Cellars wine label.

Written By: Linda Rice

Copyright 2007