Their friends thought it endearing when they heard of the two waiters' plans: Every night after work, each would put a $10 bill from tips in a white envelope and stash it in a drawer. Then, when they had enough money, they'd start making wine.
"We knew the odds were stacked against us," says Dan Kosta, recalling the 1997 harvest, when he, then 25, and Michael Browne, then 29, spent the $1,300 they'd saved to buy a half-ton of Russian River Pinot Noir grapes, an old stemmer-crusher and a used barrel. Two years later, the two Sonomans started their eponymous label, and by 2003 had honed a compelling style of Pinot Noir marked by ripe, opulent berry flavors, elegance and finesse that swiftly won a devout following. Up to and including the 2007 vintage, I've reviewed 49 Kosta Browne wines, all Pinots, with 18 of them scoring in the classic range (95 to 100 points on Wine Spectator's 100-point scale) and 25 earning outstanding reviews (90 to 94 points).