Brad of Mercury Wines
Mercury Wines - 21015 Geyserville Ave. Geyserville CA 95441
"I want to shine more light on the LGBTQ community within the wine business."
If you haven’t even been to Geyserville, California, I wouldn’t be surprised—not one bit. Established in the late 1800s, it is a tiny, tiny historic town just off the 101 in the northern end of Alexander Valley. It was founded when the railroad was brought in and Italians came over to help with the construction, bringing Italian grapes to the area. The grapes are what attracted Brad, owner of Mercury Wines, to the area. With a reported population of under 2,000 and a downtown which is about 60 yards of fun, Mercury Wines is a sparkling star on the strip. One of the first things you’ll notice when you enter Mercury is a big adorable black lab named Freddie. The “Mercury” in Mercury wines has several meanings as you wander around the space—there are a few homages to Freddie Mercury and the bathroom is covered with records from the Mercury record label. In the tasting room, there is a wire sculpture of the Roman God, Mercury, and also the constellation. I like a complex name like Mercury and Mercury Wines specializes in estate-bottled Bordeaux-style blends, small-lot Pinot Noirs, and esoteric white wines.
Brad is a proud member of the LGBTQ community, but he wasn’t always out and he didn’t always lead with his sexual orientation. He spent years working in construction and was in the Navy during the DADT era, so he always just wanted folks to know Brad, the person, not the gay wine owner. He feels his lot in life is to change people’s minds about who gay people are. Many people think they don’t even know a gay person, so when he reveals himself, he hopes, by then, that they see no difference between Brad and Brad the gay person. I asked how Geyserville accepted him and he said with open arms! If you’re a good person and an upstanding member of the community, no one cares if you are gay. He just got married last year, so yay!
He’s most proud of making it in a very tough business and told me about how he’s able to have a wine label and tasting room without owning any actual vineyards. In the 60s and 70s, estate-owned wineries were the only big producers of wine because they owned all of the grapes. But in the 90s and 00s, the market got depressed and the big wineries couldn’t buy all of the grapes they normally did, so the monopoly was broken. Then it was possible for small to medium sized grape growers to choose who they sold their grapes to, which paved the way for folks like Brad to get into the business. Brad is known as a fun winery owner—he’ll try any kind of grape you have to sell and make something fantastic out of it.
His advice to anyone who is interested in getting into the wine business is to get in a lower level at a big winery and learn the ropes or get a degree from UC Davis in winemaking. If you go up to Geyserville, be sure to say hello to Brad and his brother. They are such incredible guys. And remember to hug Freddie too—it will make your day brighter, I promise!