The Brittans

Robert Brittan

Robert Brittan left Stags’ Leap Winery in Napa after 16 years as Winemaker and Estate Manager to fulfill his dream of making Pinot Noir, Chardonnay and Syrah from unique sites in cooler climates. His winemaking career began in his dorm room at Oregon State University, where he was a physics and philosophy major.  After leaving OSU he spent three years working in a large winemaking facility in the Central Valley, where he realized that this was something he wanted to do for the rest of his life.  He then completed a degree in Enology at UC Davis and moved to Napa Valley, where he made wines for Far Niente, Saint Andrews and Stags’ Leap Winery.

Over the years Robert developed a passion for cool climate Pinot noir, and in 2004 he and his wife Ellen purchased a 128 acre estate in the foothills of the Coast Range in Oregon’s Willamette Valley.  With almost 50 years of experience growing grapes and making wine, Robert brings a significant amount of viticultural and winemaking knowledge to this estate project, and believes that he has brought a new voice to the McMinnville AVA, helping define the style and definition of Pinot Noir from this unique winegrowing region.  Along with six different expressions of Pinot noir, Robert also makes an Estate Chardonnay and Estate Syrah from this site.

In addition to his own wines, Robert is the consulting winemaker for several other brands, including: deLancellotti Family Vineyard, Fairsing Vineyard and Winderlea Winery and Vineyard.  As a result of these collaborations, Robert is now making wines from six of the Willamette Valley’s nested AVAs, and has learned first hand that Pinot Noir lends itself to many wonderful interpretations, depending on the soils and microclimates where it is grown, and the intention of each vineyard owner.

Ellen Brittan

Ellen Brittan has always had a passion for food and wine, so after spending the first twenty years of her career working in Financial Services, she finally decided to give up the corporate world to do something she would do even if she didn’t get paid to do it.

After working in a lovely little family winery in Yountville, she joined Rudd Winery in Oakville, where she had the wonderful opportunity to launch and manage a new luxury wine brand for Leslie Rudd. In the course of her ten years with the Rudd Group, she also was involved in the group’s other food and spirits related projects, including Dean & DeLuca, Edge Hill Winery, Distillery No. 209, PRESS Restaurant and Oakville Grocery. It was a dream come true to be immersed in a world of gourmet food and luxury wine and spirits.

Having grown up in Seattle, studying French and Spanish Language & Literature at the University of Washington, she longed to return to her northwest roots.  Needless to say she was thrilled to become the joint owner of the beautiful Brittan Vineyards winery in McMinnville.

While Robert oversees the vineyard and winemaking, Ellen manages the business operations for Brittan Vineyards.  In addition, Ellen has worked as General Manager for the Carlton Winemakers’ Studio and as the Director of Wine Education at Linfield College.  In order to give back to a wine community that has been so welcoming and supportive, she has also served as Chair of the Oregon Wine Board, President of the Oregon Winegrowers’ Association, and President of the International Pinot Noir Celebration.  She currently sits on the board of Visit McMinnville, the Linfield Wine Education Advisory Council and the McMinnville Economic Development Council.  When she is not working, Ellen loves to spend time cooking, baking and taking care of their two adorable Doodles – Harold and Henry.

Two dogs dressed up for Christmas at Brittan Vineyards

Harold and Henry

Harold and Henry came as a pair.  Robert and Ellen adopted them in June 2019 when they were just shy of 2-years old.  Although they look remarkably alike, they are two different breeds and they have two very distinctive personalities.

Harold the Bernedoodle who is one month older, is very much like his Bernese Mountain dog ancestors.  He is affectionate and loves attention.  He is also extremely strong, weighing in at 100+ pounds, and can be very stubborn at times.  Henry the Goldendoodle, although one month younger than Harold, is the dominant one of the pair.  Tall, elegant and extremely intelligent, he is much more poodle-like and loves to play with his toys, retrieve balls and harass his older brother.   They both love romping through the vineyard, digging for gophers and greeting guests to the property.