2021 Syrah awarded Best in Class at 2024 SF Chronicle Wine Competition!


Fortel wasn’t just a horse; he was a symphony of strength, grace, and untamed spirit. In his eyes, we glimpsed the boundless depths of majesty, and in his presence, we found ourselves standing on the threshold of greatness.

– Norman Williams


Nestled amidst the picturesque hills of California’s wine country lies Brick Barn Wine Estate, a testament to the enduring passions of the Williams family. What began over half a century ago as Norman Williams’ vision, fueled by the allure of the Santa Ynez Valley’s fertile soil, has blossomed into a remarkable legacy that intertwines the love for both horses and wine.

It all began over half a century ago when Norman Williams acquired 40 acres of soil from the Buell Ranch. Little did he know, this acquisition would mark the genesis of a remarkable legacy.

The estate grew, both in land and in dreams, as Norman’s vision expanded. With the purchase of an adjacent 1,060 acres, the canvas for his dreams broadened, and the stage was set for something extraordinary. In the early 1970’s, the property became home to a world-class Arabian horse breeding facility, with its iconic 36-stall brick barn as its centerpiece built by an Italian stonemason who painstakingly laid each brick by hand.

The brick barn, a testament to meticulous craftsmanship and timeless beauty, bore witness to the stories of Fortel, the Williams’ prized Arabian stallion. It is a tale Norman has recounted with a hearty belly laugh, a story seasoned with the flavors of adventure and a hint of folly. He has regaled listeners with the memory of stumbling upon Fortel with his late wife Elaine in the most unlikely of places—the bustling arena of a Polish circus. Amongst the vibrant chaos, with gypsies celebrating their windfall, Norman saw not just a horse, but a diamond in the rough waiting to be discovered.

As champagne corks popped in jubilation, Norman made a deal that would shape the destiny of the brick barn. With a twinkle in his eye and a spirit of daring, he sealed the pact and whisked Fortel away from the circus grounds, much to the amusement of the traveling troupe and the delight of the Williams family.

Flying high above the clouds, Fortel embarked on a journey that would lead him to the tranquil embrace of Buellton, where he would spend the rest of his days. Amongst the verdant hills and sprawling countryside, Fortel found a home, becoming a legend in his own right. His name echoed through the valleys, drawing famous faces from the glitz and glamour of Los Angeles and Beverly Hills, each seeking the chance to breed their mares with the illustrious stallion.

Norman would chuckle as he recounted the golden days when Fortel’s companions came from far and wide, their hooves kicking up clouds of dust as they eagerly awaited their turn. “When Fortel’s girlfriends stopped visiting,” he’d say with a wistful smile, “he stopped having a reason to live.” And so, surrounded by the love and admiration of those who knew him best, Fortel lived out his days, a symbol of majesty and grace.

Yet, as time passed and Fortel’s hoofbeats faded into memory, the brick barn stood silent, its purpose adrift in the winds of change. But where others saw an empty space, Norman and his wife Kathleen saw opportunity—a chance to breathe new life into the heart of their estate.

With a passion for wine that rivaled their love for horses, Norman and Kathleen embarked on a new adventure. They envisioned vineyards sprawling around the beloved brick barn, each grapevine a testament to the land’s unique terroir and the dreams that took root there. They knew that in the embrace of Brick Barn Wine Estate’s distinct location lay the potential to craft wines that would echo the spirit of the land itself. And as the first tendrils of grapevines reached for the sky, they knew that their story, like fine wine, would only grow more complex and beautiful with time.





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