BRENAE ROYAL, VINEYARD MANAGER
Brenae Royal, our Vineyard Manager at Monte Rosso, grew up surrounded by agriculture in California’s Great Central Valley, an industry she would come to love and make her lifelong passion and career.
Her interest in farming dates back to some of her earliest memories of gardening with her grandmother, who encouraged her to get involved with FFA (Future Farmers of America). “I come from a family of teachers and doctors, so I have to admit they were a bit bewildered when I started to raise pigs,” Brenae says with a smile.
In college, Brenae studied horticulture science and during her senior year, after developing a palate for California red wine, she decided to pursue a career in viticulture. She landed an internship a week before graduation and was sent to Monte Rosso Vineyard on just her third day on the job. Brenae immediately knew she was at a special place. Within the year, Brenae was promoted to vineyard manager of the property, which she has held for over seven years.
The celebrated Monte Rosso Vineyard is one of the most acclaimed winegrowing sites in California. With its striking red volcanic soils and 1,300-foot elevation, Monte Rosso is unique not just for its 134-year history, but also because it requires everything is done by hand. Brenae sees it as a mix of art and science. “In every vintage you can taste the challenges we were up against. The opportunities we took and choices we made show up in every glass.”
Brenae knows that she’s not just breaking barriers in the wine industry as a female Millennial but also as a Black woman. She finds it motivating.
“As a Black woman working in a traditionally male role, I’m often the ‘only person in the room,’” says Brenae. “That means I have an opportunity that others don’t have. I am bringing attention just by being who I am, owning that position and using my voice. The way I think about it, being the ‘only one in the room’ is just giving me a unique position to raise awareness of the importance of diversity in the room. It’s my opportunity to offer my perspective and opinion to advance what I want to see.”
Every leader in the wine industry is eventually asked about their favorite wine. For Brenae, the answer comes quickly. “Zinfandel. I love it because it is the most affected by literally anything we do in the vineyard, be it pruning techniques, irrigation management, crop thinning or whatever is happening with the weather. The wine’s characteristics change as it ages, but I can still pinpoint exactly what was happening that vintage year.”
Her favorite Louis M. Martini wine is the 2017 Monte Rosso Vineyard Gnarly Vine Zinfandel. Her team’s hard work received 93 points from James Suckling. Explore the wine for yourself and taste the history of the legendary vines and the great care that Brenae’s team puts into the vineyard which manifests itself in every glass.
The 2017 Monte Rosso Vineyard Gnarly Wine may be purchased here.