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Winemaker Spotlight: Derek Rohlffs, Bravium Winery

Updated: Jul 18, 2023

This edition of Winemaker Spotlight is going to introduce the owner, grower, and winemaker of Bravium Wines, Derek Rohlffs! Derek's wines each exhibit a perfect snapshot of the vineyard and their vintage, capturing a moment in time so unique it should be celebrated. Derek's ability to bottle a moment in history and tell a story of the land is truly remarkable. Combine his minimalist approach to wine making with his humble demeanor and you find yourself drawn to not only his wines, but to him as well.

Bravium Winery is the perfect example of how inside every bottle of wine is a story to be told, and Derek's story is most definitely one worth experiencing for yourself.

Derek founded Bravium—a Latin word meaning “gift” or “prize”—in 2007. His widely

acclaimed small-lot Pinot Noir and Chardonnay are characterized by excellent structure

and aging potential, along with invigorating acidity, which allows for seamless pairing with

a variety of foods.

Bravium is the culmination of meticulous care in the vineyards and a patient approach in the cellar. Derek takes his cues from tradition. He doesn’t alter what the earth gives him. He’s a classic minimalist, quietly guiding the wine in a thoughtful, deliberate way. The wine in the glass is born of a deeply purposeful approach, valued and honored as a gift of the land.

Of all the influences that have shaped Derek’s path, his family’s Cherokee heritage has been

the steady drumbeat that led him to the right places at the right times. He was gifted the name “Winter Hawk” as a young boy, intuitively connected to the land, Derek has always felt a mysterious pull to nature, even as a child.

"I feel most grounded when I am in sync with the land. Being outside, being in the vineyard—that’s where I belong." - Derek Rohlffs

To hear him tell it, the vineyard is his destiny. He doesn’t view his path to winemaking as a conscious choice, but more of an undercurrent that quietly ushered him to where he belongs.

Derek welcomes the sight of hawks circling over the vineyards and swooping down to the earth around him. To this day, the sight of a hawk feather in his vineyard reminds Derek that he is fulfilling his destiny. That rich heritage gently guides his hand in the cellar. A single hawk’s feather fittingly graces the Bravium label, echoing the power, elegance, and vitality of the wines—and of Derek’s Cherokee roots.

"I aspire to make transparent wines of place that reflect each vintage's unique character." - Derek Rohlffs

Derek grows Chardonnay and Pinot Noir grapes in coveted cool-climate vineyards in Sonoma’s Russian River Valley and Mendocino’s Anderson Valley. His minimalist approach translates the nuances of each coastal vineyard in the glass, illustrating a distinct, transparent sense of place in every sip. The result is a collection of compelling, terroir-driven wines that pair naturally with food and have rare aging potential, relative to their Chardonnay and Pinot Noir peers.


A Peek into Bravium's Award Winning Wines

Bravium 2021 Russian River Valley Chardonnay 91 Points “Fresh lemon zest and pineapples, with some praline notes from the fine, creamy oak toast. Fresh and flavorful with a zesty, medium-bodied palate before a long, creamy finish. Drink or hold.” – James Suckling This Chardonnay is grown at the estate vineyard named Plumis, Latin for feather, as it is shaped like the Bravium feather icon. It brings together all the best elements of the coastal vineyards: cool-climate acidity and ripeness at relatively low alcohol levels. Traditional winemaking - including wild yeast fermentation, full malolactic conversion, and aging in French and Hungarian oak barrels - results in a balanced, delicious wine.

Editors’ Choice, Best of Year Issue “This beautiful expression of Pinot Noir from Anderson Valley emits immediate aromas of bright red cherry, raspberry and red plum complemented by earthy tones of roses, violets, damp forest floor, fresh mountain air and river-rock minerality. This depth and complexity follows through onto the palate, where fine-grained tannins create a silky texture. Elevated acidity maintains a sense of freshness from start to lingering finish.”

- Stacy Briscoe, Wine Enthusiast

“Limpid orange-pink. Displays fresh, spice-tinged red berry and citrus fruit scents and a subtle touch of botanical herbs. Juicy and energetic on the palate, offering subtly sweet raspberry and cherry flavors and a bracing touch of spicy white pepper. Finishes long and focused, with the red fruit note repeating.” – Josh Raynolds, Vinous


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