Fred Brander

Fred Brander shown being honored as 2017 Vintner of the Year at the Santa Barbara Wine Auction.

Pioneering winemaker Fred Brander is being honored as Vintner of the Year at the Feb. 17, 2018, Santa Barbara Wine Auction. The biennial auction is a benefit for Direct Relief and is coordinated in part by the Santa Barbara Vintners Foundation. The foundation is the charitable arm of the Buellton-based trade association Santa Barbara Vintners.

Originally from Argentina, Brander grew up in Santa Barbara, and later earned a master's degree in food science with an enology emphasis from University of California, Davis. He and his father established The Brander Vineyard when they purchased 40 acres in Los Olivos. They planted their first vineyard in 1975 and broke ground on their winery in 1979. Brander specializes in Bordeaux varietals, including sauvignon blanc and cabernet sauvignon. 

Brander is known for his advocacy of Santa Barbara County wines. He spent nearly a decade working on the establishment of the Los Olivos District AVA. His petition to the federal government was approved in February 2016.

"Fred is one of the pioneers here. It's wonderful to be able to honor someone who has been in the business as long as he has," said Vintners Foundation Past President Frank Ostini. "He proved that Bordeaux varietals could grow in the Santa Ynez Valley and led the efforts to have the Los Olivos District AVA come into being. Plus, Fred is just a funny guy."

Brander's Vintner of the Year presentation will cap off an evening of fine dining and wine and live and silent auctions at the Santa Barbara Wine Auction gala at Bacara Resort & Spa in Goleta. Bob and Louisa Lindquist were the 2016 Vintners of the Year.

Direct Relief is one of the country's largest medical relief organizations, active in all 50 states and in 70 countries. It provides medicine and medical equipment to people to would otherwise not have access to it because of poverty, natural disaster or civil unrest.

The 2016 Santa Barbara Wine Auction raised a record-shattering $1 million for Direct Relief. The goal for 2018 is $1.2 million. 

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