Julien Howsepian has earned renown for creating elegant and intense wines prized for their thoughtful complexity, character and soul. As Head Winemaker, he continues Kosta Browne’s two-decade legacy of crafting California’s benchmark Chardonnays and Pinot Noirs.
Kosta Browne has established a reputation as one of the world’s most revered wineries, and a beacon of excellence in New World Pinot Noir and Chardonnay. Building on the accomplishments of former Co-founder Michael Browne and Winemaker Nico Cueva, Julien Howsepian leads Kosta Browne’s winemaking, overseeing an acclaimed program that features almost 40 of California’s greatest vineyards.
A first-generation American, Julien was born into a family with a French father and a Dutch mother who inspired in him an early love of wine. Raised in Northern California’s Bay Area, Julien regularly traveled to France to visit family, including relatives in the wine industry. These early visits kindled Julien’s appreciation for the culture of wine and led him to UC Davis, where he earned a degree in viticulture and enology. Before joining Kosta Browne, Julien gained invaluable hands-on experience at several venerable California estates and in New Zealand’s acclaimed Hawke’s Bay region.
Julien impressed Michael Browne while working as a harvest intern during the 2012 vintage and was rewarded with a coveted full-time position following harvest. Working alongside Michael and Nico, Julien spent the next several vintages establishing himself as an invaluable member of the Kosta Browne team. With a meticulous, detail-oriented approach to winemaking and a love of blending, Julien was rapidly promoted from production assistant to cellar master to assistant winemaker.
“Working alongside Michael and Nico for seven years, I learned the Kosta Browne way from the ground up,” says Julien. “Michael brought an absolute clarity of vision to his winemaking that continues to define us. He also established a culture that empowers our team to achieve that vision. As a mentor and friend, Nico also had a profound influence on me. He taught me to appreciate the science of winemaking, but also to push the envelope, understanding that truly compelling wines go beyond chemistry. Extraordinary wines reflect the interconnectedness of many factors—the vineyard, the season, the grapes, and the people who make the wine. Understanding how these elements work together is the essence of great wine.”
A winemaker who balances intellectual curiosity with a deep passion for Pinot Noir, Julien relishes the opportunity to coax the full potential from every vineyard. “My dream has always been to make world-class wines,” adds Julien. “As a winemaker, it is both humbling and a gift to work with such amazing vineyards. Each one has a fascinating story to tell. For two decades, Kosta Browne has been dedicated to telling these stories. To build on this legacy is an honor and a privilege.” A lifelong athlete and nature lover, Julien lives with his wife and young son in the heart of wine country.
Julien is a panelist for the Bubbles and Bites Seminar, on Saturday, March 2, from 9:30am - 11:30am.