Derek Rohlffs is Bravium's Proprietor & Winemaker. Derek graduated from the University of California at Santa Barbara with the high GPA in its trailblazing Environmental Studies program. When he realized that wine was his passion, he took winemaking coursework at UC Davis, including its Wine Executive Program, which he recently completed. Derek pursued his love for wine by making his own small lots starting in 2000. His travels to notable wine regions in Europe, including France and Italy, as well as Australia, helped Derek hone his traditional winemaking approach.
Bravium translates from Latin as "reward, prize or gift" and the winery is located on Treasure Island, in the middle of San Francisco Bay. Bravium was created with the intention to give back to charitable organizations by way of its Sip & Give donation platform. A portion of the proceeds from the sale of all Bravium and Artisan wines support Sip & Give, which Derek established in 2007. Sip & Give features a wide variety of worthy charities that are funded based upon your wine purchases and votes and current beneficiary charities include the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society, Community Gatepath, Peninsula Humane Society/SPCA, Bonnie J. Addario Foundation and Slow Food USA. More than $10,000 in cash and wine was gifted to Sip & Give's beneficiary charities this year.
Bravium produces vineyard designated wines from multiple appellations under its flagship Bravium brand. With extremely limited production (24 to 448 cases per wine), Derek's winemaking philosophy is grounded in his belief that great wine begins in the vineyard. Bravium ensures that vineyards are farmed in a manner of encouraging optimal ripening, i.e. balanced flavors and acidity, seeking relatively low Brix and alcohol levels. Derek employs simple, traditional winemaking techniques - gravity-moving wines, for example, and bottling red wines unfined and unfiltered - allowing the source fruit to remain at the forefront, vine to bottle. Vineyards are located in the relatively cool areas of the Mendocino, Sonoma, Napa and Carneros appellations.
"The longer I make wine, the more I subscribe to a 'less is more' approach," Rohlffs said. "When we get things right in the vineyard - farming for balance and slow ripening - my job in the winery is simply to treat the wines as gently as possible, and allow the vineyard and vintage to shine through."
In addition to Bravium wines, Derek has developed a roster of distinctive Artisan bottlings utilizing a more "hands-on" practical approach, from Proprietary White and Red Blends - White Wedding and Lucky - to Bordeaux Blends from Napa's Diamond Mountain District. White Wedding has become a favorite of wedding planners and Lucky is now being exported to Shanghai, China. These wines are also placed in casinos throughout the U.S. and high end restaurants including Bobby Flay's Bar Americain and Todd English's Tuscany.