Robert "Budge" Brown, a longtime California grapegrower who purchased the Cleavage Creek winery in Napa and devoted the label to the fight against breast cancer, died May 18. Brown was flying from Minden, Nev., to Tracy, Calif., to pick up a friend when his single-engine plane crashed in the El Dorado National Forest. The Amador County Sheriff’s Office found the wreckage of the plane this past Friday. Brown was 78.
Brown was a businessman and farmer in California for over 50 years. He founded his own winery, Tulip Hill, in Lake County starting with the 2001 vintage. He later moved the winery into the Bartlett Springs bottling building on the North Shore of Clear Lake. In 2005, Brown lost his wife of 48 years, Arlene, to breast cancer. When he learned about the Cleavage Creek brand in Napa he decided the name would be a clever way to promote the fight against breast cancer and purchased the winery.
In honor of Brown’s wife, Cleavage Creek donates 10 percent of its gross wine sales to breast cancer research. The winery uses fruit from its two estate vineyards, one in Pope Valley and the other in the Tracy Hills AVA. Each wine features a photo of a breast cancer survivor, including TV host Carson Daly’s mother, Patricia Daly Caruso. The winery produces around 2,000 cases a year and has donated more than $82,000 to various organizations such as the Sutter Medical Center of Santa Rosa, Calif.