Meet the Winemaker: Josh Brown

Josh Brown is the Winemaker and Manager at Beans Creek Winery. Josh has been involved in the Winery from the very beginning, present on the day we poured our first cement. In the early years of the Winery, Josh began an apprenticeship of sorts with his father and our founder, Tom Brown. He was watching, learning and, of course, tasting. Josh took over as Winemaker in 2013 and Manager in 2015.

When asked about his progression of job responsibilities over the years, Josh had this to say:

“When we first opened, I had very little actual winemaking experience. With my dad making wine as a hobby at home, I would have to help him in the basement some. Most of that was heavy lifting (moving the carboys) or helping with bottling. When we opened the winery, I was basically the cellar rat – doing whatever I was told. After a few years I was managing the crush and harvest. I used to joke that I did all the work to get the juice for my dad to make the wine and he got all the credit! A few years went by, and I started doing some of the fermentation with guidance from my dad. Add a few more years, and I was doing it all, from grape to bottle. And now, I really do it all – from winemaking, managing, janitor and yard boy.”

Wine and winemaking was very new to Josh when he began at Beans Creek. While the wine industry was new to Josh, hard work was not. Because he was accustomed to working hard, he was able to learn both the science and the art behind wine making. According to Josh, everything he learned about wine, he learned from Tom. However, over the years he has also become active in the Tennessee Farm Winegrowers Alliance (TFWA), continuing his education at the annual conference and sharing information with growers and wine makers from across the state. Josh also took the opportunity for some more structured learning through VESTA, an online grape and wine educational provider.

Beans Creek Winery is, in some ways, just like any other small family business. It has survived over the years due to the passion and commitment of a few people and the incredible support of a large family of customers. However, Josh feels like there are a few things that set us apart:

“One thing that is unique about us is that we are located on the main road to Bonnaroo. For one week out of the year, we have anywhere from 60-80 thousand people in our back yard. One thing that separates us from other wineries is our Sparkling Strawberry Wine. This sparkling wine is made from 100% strawberries. I don't know of anyone else that has that. And finally, our Apropos port style wine. We have won several prestigious awards for Apropos, including a Double Gold in 2013 at the Indy International Wine Competition. That means that every judge awarded it as a gold medal winner. It could be one of the best Port Style wines around.”

Josh is married to Dr. Susan Brown (a chiropractor in Tullahoma, TN) and has one son (Tucker, 13). Before working full-time at Beans Creek Winery, Josh served with the Manchester Fire Department for 13 years and also enjoyed some time on the Tour Guide staff at Jack Daniels Distillery. Similar to his father, Josh is a hobby basement brewmaster, supporter of agriculture, and proud operator of the family business. He is passionate about using an agricultural product grown right here in Tennessee to create something that people from all over the world can enjoy. Josh’s favorite Beans Creek wines are Traminette, an off-dry white, and Apropos, our sweet, port style wine. 



Meet Elena. Outgoing, Sweet, with somewhat of an accent.

Elena, how long have you worked at Beans Creek Winery?

I've worked here for about nine years.  I started soon after I moved to Tennessee.  I learned a lot and met many good people.  Winemaker Tom Brown says, "Surround yourself with good people, and you'll be happy."  He's right.

How did you learn about this job?

My cousin told me about it.  She introduced me to the Browns, the owners.  It has been a fun and rewarding job.  I'm always confident when I offer Beans Creek wine to customers.  Some customers are genuinely surprised that Tennessee wine is so good.  It's nice to offer award-winning wines which have been recognized nationally and internationally.

What's your favorite thing about working at the winery?

We're all really close, we're friends - everyone who works here, the Browns and the regular customers.  The new customers see that, so it's easy for them to feel at home, too.

What's your favorite wine?

Usually, people start drinking sweet wines and, gradually, they turn to dry wine lovers.  Contrary to that, I used to like dry wines - being from Bulgaria, I had mostly tried dry wines.  But now I enjoy some sweet wines, too.  I love the Wild Mountain Blackberry and the port-style Apropos.

So you're from Bulgaria - that explains the accent.

Yes.  Customers ask me where I am from all the time.  Josh Brown likes to tell them I'm from Kentucky or Alabama - he likes to see their surprised faces.

What do you like to do when you're not at the winery?

I like to spend time with my family.  I read.  I recently binge watched Downton Abbey.  I love the show and its characters, who really appreciate fine wines and ports, by the way.



Meet Lynn. She's pretty awesome.


Meet Lynn. She's pretty awesome.

Lynn writes on chalkboards and tells stories. If you’re into conversations about goats, Mardi Gras parades, any other kinds of fun festivities, family, ghost stories, Chinese history, or just life in general, Lynn is your girl.

Before she started working at Beans Creek Winery, Lynn decorated private homes for a living. She also worked as a custom decorator for JCPenney.

She’s worked at the winery for about a year and heard about this job from her neighbor, who used to work at the winery. Lynn enjoys her job.  

“I love talking to all the interesting people from different places,” she said. “I also love working with the owners of the winery, the Browns. They’re just really, really sweet people.”

Lynn’s favorite wine is Bonnaroo Red. Inspired by the Bonnaroo Music Festival, this wine is fun, artsy, sweet, fresh and spicy – just like Lynn.  

When she’s not working, Lynn spends time with her family and her animals. She has chickens, ducks, rabbits, goats, dogs and cats.

Lynn loves to read. Her favorite book is “The Good Earth” by Pearl S. Buck. Buck describes the struggles of Chinese people before World War I. “It’s so good. It’s about a guy and his life story – the rise and fall of his fortunes,” Lynn said.  

With her versatile interests, Lynn is fun to be around. When you visit the winery, she’ll make you feel at home; you’ll feel like you’re talking to someone you’ve known for years. 


Meet Kathy. Passions: Food, Wine, People, Places


Meet Kathy. Passions: Food, Wine, People, Places

Kathy, how long have you worked at Beans Creek Winery?

I’ve worked here for almost 12 years. I started on Halloween, about three weeks after the winery opened its doors. At that time, only the owners, Tom and Becky Brown, and their son, Josh Brown, were working at the winery. So other than family, I was really the first employee.

How did you learn about this job?

Becky and I taught together for more than 20 years at North Coffee Elementary School. I told her, years and years ago, that she would have a winery one day, and I would work there. It worked out perfectly. The year I retired, Becky and Tom opened Beans Creek Winery.

What’s your favorite thing about working at the winery?

I love meeting the people who are traveling, talking with them, learning where they’ve been and where they’re going. They want to know about wines, and I want to hear about places they’ve visited. I recommend wines and wine pairings to them, they recommend places to me. It’s just fun.

What’s your favorite wine?

Chardonel. Before I started working here, I knew about Chardonnay, but I wasn’t familiar with Chardonel. I love our Chardonel, and if you haven’t tried it, you need to try it.

What do you like to do when you’re not at the winery?

I’m a cooking person, a foodie. I love to cook and to pair food with wine. I try new recipes, new ideas. It’s just fun to try different combinations and see what goes together and how flavors change.  


News: Beans Creek Winery's Founder Receives an Award


News: Beans Creek Winery's Founder Receives an Award

Tom Brown, Beans Creek­ Winery’s founder, has been presented with an award from the Tennessee Farm Winegrowers Alliance (TFWA) at the annual Pick TN Conference in Knoxville, Tennessee, on Feb. 13, 2016.

This award is called The Decanter Award and this is the first year it has been presented.

Tom Brown’s son, Josh Brown, received the award on his behalf. Louisa Cooke, the owner of Beachaven Winery in Clarksville, Tennessee, presented the award.

“We felt that a ship’s decanter was an appropriate award because a decanter is a vessel that improves the wine that is poured into it. A ship's decanter has a wide, flat base that ensures that its contents will remain safe and not spill or spoil during rough voyages,” Cooke said. “The association felt that this award should go to a person who has improved the Tennessee wine industry and encouraged its stability in an ever-changing environment. Tom Brown has been that catalyst for the last 10 years by being the president of both the Tennessee Viticultural and Oenological Society and the Tennessee Farm Winegrowers Alliance, chairman of the Tennessee Horticultural Exposition, serving on many committees and boards, while running his own winery. He is a true entrepreneur.”

Thirty wineries participated in the conference. Next year, it will be held in Franklin, Tennessee, on Feb. 16-18.

Tom and Josh Brown have been members of TFWA since 2004. TFWA represents its member wineries and vineyards and supports the production of commercial wines and grapes throughout the state. 


A Conversation with Winemaker Tom Brown


A Conversation with Winemaker Tom Brown

Q: How long does a bottle of wine last after it has been opened?
A: Generally, the sweeter the wine and the higher the alcohol content, the longer it will last. Most dry wines are good for about three to four days. Sweet wines, however, can last three to four weeks. A port-style wine, which is higher in alcohol content, can taste great even months after it has been opened.  We never have to worry about wine going bad (it usually is drank within a day or 2!). Wine usually lasts only about 30 minutes in my house. 

Q: What is the perfect temperature for serving wine?
A: White wines and all sweet wines are usually served chilled. The best temperature for these wines is 50-55 degrees. Red wines show off their best characteristics served at 60-70 degrees. Whatever the temperature of your wine, remember that the atmosphere is what’s important and it should always be warm and fuzzy.

Q: What determines the color of the wine? 
A: The color of the wine comes from the skin of the grapes. If the skins are separated from the juice before fermentation, the juice from both red and white grapes is white. Red wine is made from red grapes fermented with the skins.

Q: What is fermentation anyway?
A: Yeast and sugars are naturally present in grapes. When we crush the grapes, yeast begins to convert sugars into alcohol. This is when the magic starts happening.

Q: Is it true that white wine is better with chicken, and red wine is better with beef?
A: Pairing food with wine is all about matching or contrasting characteristics of your wine with those of your food. Light-bodied wines, which are usually white, pair well with white meats, like chicken. And, red, heavy-bodied wines pair well with red meats, like steak. You can also match flavors. Pick a spicy wine for spicy food, or fruity wine for a fruity desert. Contrasting flavors is even more fun. Try sweet wine with a very spicy dish. Experiment, have fun and remember, wine is always better with friends.

Q: Is it true that age is very important when it comes to wine?
A: Definitely. The older I get, the better I like wine. Oh, you mean aging the wine? Not every wine benefits from aging. Some wines taste best soon after they have been bottled. Some wines improve when they age. These are usually dry red wines that have a lot of tannins. 

Q: What are tannins?
A: Tannins occur naturally in grape skin. Because red wines ferment with the skins, red wines have tannins. Tannins don’t really have a taste. They create a unique mouth-feel when they are present in the wine you’re tasting. Imagine you’re drinking strong, unsweetened tea. In a way it ‘dries out” your mouth. You’ll experience the same thing if you taste a wine with a lot of tannins.

Q: Do you also produce Champagne?
A: We make sparkling wine, which we produce via the Methode Champenoise, the way it is made in Champagne, France. We just can’t legally call it Champagne, because it’s not made there.

Q: Is it true that wine is good for your health?
A: There is an antioxidant in wine, called resveratrol. Research shows that resveratrol helps prevent damage to blood vessels, improves heart function, and increases the body’s ability to use insulin. Furthermore, wine makes your life more interesting, brings people together and enhances your dining experience. I would say that’s definitely healthy. 

Q: How can I become a wine connoisseur?
A: It’s easy. Just be true to yourself, try wine and be honest about what you like. True connoisseurs know what they like and don’t let anybody tell them what they should like.


Cold Stabilization


Cold Stabilization

Get a sneak peak of our tank room.

We use cold stabilization of wine method to keep tartaric acid crystals from forming after the wine has been bottled. This process is called cold stabilization because we cool the wine while the wine is in the tanks. Cooling the wine causes tartaric acid to form tartrate crystals, also known as wine crystals or wine diamonds. This way, we can remove them before bottling the wine.

If wines are not cold stabilized, these crystals might form when you place bottles of wine in the refrigerator or store them for long periods of time. But remember, even if they’re present in your wine, they are harmless.



Taste Wine Like a Pro

He opened a bottle of wine, and the pop echoed throughout the quiet tasting room.  

Tom Brown, the winemaker at Beans Creek Winery, was ready to relax. He stood behind the bar, poured himself a glass of wine, and you could hear the gurgle of the wine as Brown poured it into the glass. 

He looked at the wine in the glass for a few moments, swirled it, took a deep, loud sniff and then took a sip.

Brown had not noticed the lady standing beside the tasting bar.

“Quite a tasting ritual you have,” she said. “Can’t you just drink the wine?”

“Well, you can,” Brown said. “But sometimes it’s just fun to do it this way, so you can get more out of the taste.”   

“How do you do that?” she said.

“It’s easy. Just follow the four S’s: see, swirl, smell and sip,” Brown said. 

Look at the wine against something white. Its appearance tells you if the wine is white or red. Look at the “legs” of the wine. The “legs” are the droplets of wine that form on the inside of the glass. Thicker “legs” indicate a higher alcohol content. Sweeter wines are more viscous and droplets flow slower down the glass.

When you swirl the wine, oxygen interacts with it and helps the wine release its aromas. “Swirl well. It’s OK to even spill a little. Don’t spill too much, though; I call that wine abuse,” Brown said with a laugh. Swirling also prepares the wine for the next step of the tasting process.

Stick your nose into the glass and breathe in. What aromas are you picking up? Don’t try to think of “wine words” you’ve heard. Think about aromas that are familiar to you. Does the wine smell like lemon, apple, grapefruit or peach? Usually, you’ll find these flavors in white wines. Does the wine smell like plum, berries or tobacco? Red wines usually exhibit these flavors. Often, you might be able to tell if the wine has been aged in oak. Oak may add vanilla or caramel aromas to the wine.   

Take a sip and keep the wine in your mouth for a few seconds before you swallow it. You can now tell what the body of the wine is. The wine body, or the weight of the wine as it feels in your mouth, can be light, medium or full. Tasting the wine also tells you about the sweetness and acidity of the wine.

“Now, you can really taste and understand the wine,” Brown said.



Tennessee Wine Country


Tennessee Wine Country

Tennessee Wine Country 
“Wine country” is not the first thought that comes to mind when you think of Tennessee. That might change in a few short years. Tennessee’s wine industry has been growing fast.

Vitis vinifera
Yes, we have a hard time growing most of Vitis vinifera. Vitis vinifera are the European type of grapes. These are grapes like Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and Chardonnay. Most people are familiar with wines made from these grapes. Because they have been around for thousands of years, they are usually the most-prized by many winemakers, too. 

Tennessee terrain is great for growing hybrid grapes. Hybrids are crosses between two grapes. Hybrids are widely grown in many areas because they are easier to grow than Vitis vinifera varieties and because they make outstanding wines. 

Grapes that Grow Well in Tennessee
Examples of grapes that grow well in Tennessee are Chambourcin, Chardonel, Vidal Blanc and Traminette. 

Watch out California. 


Get to Know the Winemaker


Get to Know the Winemaker

Tom Brown doesn’t always drink wine, but when he does, he makes sure it’s made from Tennessee grapes. 

Brown was born on May 24, 1952, in McMinnville, Tennessee, and grew up in Hillsboro, Tennessee . He has made wine for 40 years. His favorite Beans Creek wine is Cynthiana. “This is a great dry red wine. I love its name, too; it sounds somehow romantic,” he says.

He likes desserts. “Desserts don’t have to be complicated,” Brown says. “All you need is a piece of chocolate, a piece of cheese and some strawberry wine, and you have a strawberry cheesecake.”

He likes history. If he could go back in time for a day, he would like to experience life in the United States in the early 19th century. He watches historical movies that are based on historical events. His favorite movie is Braveheart.

Brown respects hard-working people. His late father is one of his idols. “He personified hard-work ethics and ethical behavior,” Brown says.

Brown gives. As a part of the community, he has made many donations to local charities. One thing he’ll rarely give, though, is advice. He says, “It doesn't do any good to give advice. A smart man doesn't need it, and a fool won't take it.” 

Bless his heart; he loves his overalls. If you ever see him wearing anything different from overalls, you know that it took a lot of convincing and reminding from his wife, Becky Brown. 

He was blessed with loving family. He says, “Becky and I married in 1977, on top of the museum at Old Stone Fort.” Stone Fort is an archaeological park, located in Manchester, Tennessee. “Becky has been my rock, best friend and greatest love. She has given me three beautiful children, has stuck with me through good and bad and supported me with all my dreams. And I love her dearly!” If Brown could relive a certain period of his life, he would go back to his honeymoon.

But he likes where he is now. He is in Tennessee, makes wine, shares his knowledge with customers and has the support of his family and friends.