Red Thread Wines
Celebrates Ten Years of Connection
WRITTEN BY Susan L. Richards


Published On: April 05, 2024
bottle of red thread sine, glass of red wine and plate of food including asparagus, french fries and meat on table with white tablecloth
photo courtesy of Red thread wines

In 2013, Brian and Gretchen Brakesman embarked on creating Red Thread Wines in Napa Valley’s famed Howell Mountain. It was to be an independent endeavor, separate from Brian’s family wine estate, Summit Lake Vineyards & Winery. The first vintage of Howell Mountain Red Blend was in 2014. This year, Red Thread Wines celebrates ten years of operation with additional wines in production and a growing and loyal wine club.

From the beginning, the Brakeman’s goal was to make high-quality single vineyard wines that were age-worthy and affordable for a “boutique winery.” And in doing so, to develop a solid connection to the local community and their customers. The name “Red Thread” was chosen to represent this goal and is based on a proverb that implies an invisible red thread brings together people destined to meet. Brian said, “We are focused on the importance of connection and didn’t want to grow too fast.” He stated that Red Thread will produce approximately 800 cases of wine this year, up from the fifty-six released in 2014.

Red Thread Wines has three tiers of wine club membership, offering two shipments per year of twelve, eight, or four bottles. The wine club has more impact on the winery than just purchasing wine; it influences what wine is produced. As the winemaker, Brian strives to offer and engage club members by making wine from a new grape variety each year. He sources the grapes from the best vineyard sites in Napa Valley and the surrounding counties. Wines like Starscape Vineyard Russian River Valley Chardonnay, Marvin Jack Vineyard Carneros Pinot Noir, and Summit Lake Vineyards Howell Mountain Zinfandel Rose have been produced.

Annually, Red Thread Wines and the Brakeman Family thank their wine club members by hosting a catered dinner party in the Howell Mountain vineyard. The party includes live music, fabulous food from local chefs, and wine from Red Thread. The event, usually in the fall, always sells out and has become a hotly sought-after ticket, with locals and people from outside the state attending the event.

Red Thread is 100% family-owned and operated. Since establishing their wine brand, Gretchen and Brian have been hands-on with everything from business management to vineyard operations.

A visit to Red Thread Wines is not what most people expect from a Napa Valley wine tasting, and there is no tasting room with a polished oak bar and sparkling wine glasses. The experience is casual and intimate, with tastings held in the 1897-built family farmhouse kitchen or at a picnic table overlooking the beautiful vineyards. Tastings are by appointment and offered as frequently as work on the farm allows. Brian shared, “Red Thread is all about connection and enjoying each other over wine.”

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