In a change up that maybe only a handful of people saw coming, Efeste announced today that Brennon Leighton will step down as head winemaker, though he will remain as consulting winemaker. Peter Devison, winemaker for Apex, will assume the role of head winemaker.
Devison, a Novia Scotia native who has spent the past several years at Precept as winemaker for Apex, was hand-selected by the tattooed winemaker as a replacement based on—according to Leighton—his “winemaking integrity.”
What's the big deal? Leighton has been the seven-year-old Efeste's winemaker since 2007, earning high scores from the likes of Wine Spectator, Wine Advocate and Wine Enthusiast for reds and whites alike, as well as 93 points in Seattle Met's 100 Best Wines of 2011. He has also been largely responsible for defining the winery's brand and style—likely why he hand-picked a winemaker he considers similar to himself and who he thinks will carry the bright, fruit-forward style through in years to come.
“He’s extremely talented and I love his philosophy,” says Leighton. “And, his wines—that are not being blended away—are authentic and pure.”
Both men love the reductive style of winemaking, wherein the winemaker takes extra steps to limit the wine’s exposure to oxygen in an attempt to maintain bright, fresh, fruit forward characteristics in the wine.
Big shoes to fill, perhaps, but Devison is excited about the move.
“Personally, I think Brennon has blazed a trail and taken a different route,” says Devison. “My winemaking over the past 12 years has led me to the same sort of place. Who wouldn’t want work with Brennon? He’s working with best vineyards in the state and our philosophies so similar. it’s just natural.”
Devison joins Efeste officially sometime before the end of August. Meanwhile, as if there weren’t enough huge, rock-and-roll personalities in Eastern Washington already, Leighton will move to Walla Walla later this summer where he is said to be joining another winery, soon.