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Samuel Hoffman | The Journal Gazette
Randy Brown, home winemaker, toasts his passion.

Weekend warrior: Home winemaker starts his own vineyard

As executive vice president and general manager of Memorial Coliseum, Randy Brown is responsible for the overall management of the Coliseum as well as for attracting events to the facility.

This is no small task, given that the Coliseum has about 1,300 events a year; 58-year-old Brown has been helping it thrive for the past 24 years.

And although Brown stays quite busy with his job, in 2011, his wife and son thought he might need another hobby. So they bought him a winemaking kit for Christmas.

“Little did they know what they were starting,” he said.

To date, Brown has made or bottled 18 batches of wine, filling 540 bottles. He says his goal is to maintain a cellar with 400 bottles.

While he has now made more than a dozen types of wine, he says he got started very slowly and credits the folks at Brewers Art Supply in Fort Wayne with the great suggestions and help they offered to​ get him off on the right foot.

When it comes to making wine – or brewing any kind of alcohol – cleanliness is important. Brown is always very careful with how he cleans all of the equipment, he said.

“With winemaking, hygiene is very important,” Brown said. “Because I am borderline neurotic on cleanliness, I have yet to lose a batch of wine.

“You put so much work into making a batch that you don’t want to have to spoil one out.”

Randy and his wife, Ann, have bought the property next door to their house to begin their own vineyard.

They have just completed excavation of the site and hope to start planting a few vines next year. It is said that grapes grow best in poor soil, so the Browns expect some outstanding harvests in a few years.

But you won’t be finding his wine in stores anytime soon.

Brown said he is happiest sharing his homemade wine with family and friends.

Bottled up

These are the wines Randy Brown has made:

Whites

• Italian pinot grigio

• California riesling

• French chardonnay

• Johannesburg dry riesling

• California symphony (melon, mango and hint of tannin)

Reds

• California merlot

• Australian shiraz

• French merlot

• California cabernet • Sauvignon/merlot blend

• Italian sangiovese

• French cabernet sauvignon

• Australian cabernet sauvignon

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