Less science and more art at Bent Metal Winery | TheUnion.com

Less science and more art at Bent Metal Winery

If Scott and Judy Brown had called their winery Rock House, you might know exactly what I’m talking about. They chose Bent Metal Winery instead and everyone’s first question is, where did that name come from?

Scott Brown works as a material damage appraiser. He’s the technical guy the insurance companies call to assess the damage done to heavy equipment when it gets smashed, crunched, or, well, bent.

“A big pile of bent metal helped us pay for this place,” Brown said. “It seemed fitting to call it Bent Metal Winery.”

So why the suggestion for the Rock House name? Bent Metal is located on the right-hand side of McCourtney Road, just shortly before the left turn to go to the landfill. Anyone who has driven that road will recognize the Brown’s Rock House sitting up at the top of the hill with a cascading series of rock-lined terraces stretching below. The winery occupies a new building at the bottom of the hill just off McCourtney.

Scott started making wine as a home winemaker when he was living in the Placerville/Tahoe area. His first wine, a Chardonnay made from a kit in 1998, was “not very good but I got to see the process.” He immediately switched to grapes and has been making wine ever since.

Over time he became increasingly interested in making the transition from hobby to business.

His original intent was a winery in El Dorado County but he discovered “there was too much red tape, too much politics, and too many good old boys.” He turned his sights north, headed for Nevada County, bought the Rock House, and became a bonded winery in 2008.

In case you don’t notice when you’re there, one of the things Scott will point out is the lack of barrels in his winery. It’s not because he doesn’t like oak. He does. He just doesn’t like barrels.

He uses a combination of stainless steel and polyethylene tanks that he believes gives him better control over the winemaking process, including controlling the amount of oak in his wines. Instead of the traditional technique of putting wine into wood he prefers to put wood into wine. “I use different oak combinations, what kind and how much of each is like cooking from scratch, it’s less science and more art.”

Holding a Zork, an innovative synthetic cork that Scott uses to bottle his wines, he says, “We’re a little quirky,” describing their unstuffy philosophy. “We think people going wine tasting are out to have fun. We want to make this a place we would want to come to.”

A trip to the landfill may never be the same again.

Rod Byers is a certified wine educator, teaches wine classes at Sierra College and is a California State Certified Wine Judge. He can be reached at http://www.pinehillwineworks.com or by phone at (530) 913-3703.


• Saturday, April 10. The tasting room will be open weekends from noon to 5 p.m.

• 14364 McCourtney Road, Grass Valley

• (530) 559-9533

• Go to http://www.bentmetalwinery.com for a list of wines, including a spicy Malbec, a rich, full-bodied Syrah and a very fun Rock House Red.

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