Brion Wise grew up on a small farm in rural Washington State. "I learned from the age of seven how to work hard. I was right alongside my father, uncles, and grandfather."
Wise became interested in engineering as a boy, fell in love with chemistry at 13. Graduated from Washington State University with a chemical engineering degree and went to work for Shell Oil Co. in the oil fields. At 26, he founded Ecological Engineering Systems which became Western Gas Resources and developed it into an international business.
"I traveled the world—Australia, South America, Russia. I dined in some of the finest restaurants with people like Mikhail Gorbachev, and had the opportunity to drink some of the best wines. Oil taught me the business skills and I applied it," he said. He farmed cotton in Australia; founded Petrex, a developer, manufacturer and distributor of equipment to various sectors of the petroleum industry. He developed a titanium bicycle chain that was tested by the U.S. Air Force in a Gatline gun for aircraft. He open the Trios restaurant in Boulder and the Trios wine bar in Denver.
He says he isn't interested in buying something already finished, which explains why Wise says before any wine is produced from his latest purchase"we have to learn from those vines and those roots and figure out what we need to do to take them to another level. It's a long game, for sure."
He moved to California in 1993, looking for vineyard land. He found what he was looking for: a cattle ranch, with no infrastructure. A dirt road with no easements. "I drilled a well and ran everything on generators. That's the fun for me," Wise says. "It's an engineering puzzle with a foundation in aesthetics."
B. Wise Vineyard began in 2002. Since then, he has collected a portfolio of vineyards and wineries including a part-ownership in Caldwell, Sleeping Lady, a mile-long stretch called the Upper Range in Pritchard Hill. He is also the owner of Sonoma's Amapola Creek Winery and is developing a vineyard estate in the foggy Fort Ross-Seaview region on the Sonoma Coast.