Broc Cellars is a Berkeley-based natural winery that makes refreshing and approachable wines for everyday drinking. Established in 2004 by owner and winemaker Chris Brockway, we use native fermentations and organically-grown grapes. Broc wines are made with the intention to lift you up, never weigh you down.
Chris Brockway’s winemaking journey began with California Zinfandel. The spicy, brambly fruit style drew him from his hometown of Omaha, Nebraska all the way to California. What he found, however, was that California wines had changed to fit the “bigger is better”mold of the time. Personally, he felt it was all too much – high alcohol, too big, too much everything.
Chris believed California wine could be different. From a single barrel in 2002 to now over 20 different wine releases a year, Broc Cellars makes fresh California wines to enjoy and for your table. In 2023, we extended our vision of simple and ethical winemaking into the vineyard as new owners of Fox Hill Vineyard.
How We Make Wine
We make natural wine the way we believe delivers the best wines for us and the earth. We use only organically-farmed grapes. We use cover crops to boost soil health, water retention and biodiversity. Sheep help us manage crop cover and fertilize the soil. We harvest early for more healthy grapes that retain their good acidity. This often results in lower alcohol wines. The lower Brix (sugar content) at harvest allows for easier fermentations. We use native yeasts and bacteria that exist on the grapes and never add sulphur during fermentation. We occasionally add a small amount of sulphur at bottling depending on the wine, style and year.
Three major influences shaped how Broc Cellars makes wine: The book “Real Wine: The Rediscovery of Natural Winemaking” by Patrick Matthews that Chris read early on in his free time as an oenology student at Fresno State. Terroir, San Francisco’s first natural wine bar that enabled Chris to explore the depth and breadth of natural winemaking. And finally, the many Bay Area restaurants who focus on delivering fresh, simply made dishes with locally-sourced ingredients. We seek to make wines that pair with fresh, thoughtfully-made foods.
Growing From Negociant to Vigneron
We work with vineyards that are organically farmed and family-owned. Broc Cellars was a fully negociant operation, meaning we buy the grapes that go into our wines, until recently. In 2021, Chris took over farming operations and management for Fox Hill Vineyard in Mendocino after a decade of purchasing its Italian varieties that went into the Badger and Amore wines. Broc Cellars became official owners and stewards of Fox Hill in 2023. This exciting milestone fulfills a longtime dream of ours and means we can further expand upon our vision to work with the best resources nature provides. We are still proud to source from an eclectic mix of vineyards from all over California, working with vineyards from the Central Coast up to Mendocino.
Broc Cellars Milestones
2002 - Chris makes his first barrel of wine.
2004 - Chris makes 14 barrels and can officially begin to sell his wine.
2006 - Broc Cellars is born and releases its first vintage. Chris sources Zinfandel from Arrowhead Mountain Vineyard, north of Sonoma, which he still partners with today. He releases Vine Starr in the image of the lighter-body, full fruit Zinfandels that drew him into winemaking.
2008 - Broc Cellars moves into its first winery space in Berkeley, CA. Previously known as Grape Leaf Cellars, it’s only one block away from the winery's current location in the city’s Gilman District.
2009 + 2010 - Two formative years of winemaking that served as building blocks for the style of wine Broc Cellars still makes today. This includes the initial releases of Carignan using carbonic maceration, whole cluster Cabernet Franc (now called Koukou) from Happy Canyon in Santa Barbara and skin-contact whites like Rousanne.
2013 - Jon Bonne releases “The New California Wine, featuring Chris and other small-production California winemakers. It’s a big moment for winemakers like Chris who make wine with a focus on organic farming, lighter-bodied wines from little-known varieties. Meanwhile, Broc Cellars introduces new wine labels designed by Marta Johansen, who quickly becomes a core creative partner for Broc Cellars’ visual look.
2014 - Eric Asimov, New York Times wine critic, publishes “Fruit of the Bartered Vine”. The profile of Chris is an inflection point that elevates Broc Cellars and wines like Vine Starr to the national and international stage.
2015 - Bridget Leary, Chris’ partner in life, officially joins Broc Cellars as general manager to help grow the vision for Broc Cellars as a winery and tasting room.
2020 - The Broc signature glassware launches bringing casual style to at-home drinking.
2021 - Chris manages farming operations for Fox Hill Vineyard in Mendocino where he harvests Italian varieties such as Nero d’Avola, Trebbiano and Dolcetto for the Badger and Amore wines.
2023 - Broc Cellars become new owners and stewards of Fox Hill Vineyard.