President and Partner, ZD Wines
If Brett could share a bottle with any three people, it would be Albert Einstein, Benjamin Franklin and his dad.
When was your first Napa Valley harvest?
I have been a full-time part of our family business since 1988.
How did you get started in the wine business?
I was four years old when my parents started ZD Wine 1969, so you can say I’ve been involved my entire life. I grew up working on the bottling line in the summer and the cellar as the opportunity presented itself. After graduating from college, my parents offered me the chance to join the family business full time, and I never looked back.
Which wine was your "a-ha!" wine – the one that made you love wine or inspired you to get into the industry?
Having grown up with wine, there was no “a-ha moment” it has just always been a part been a part of my life. I do love Pinot Noir!
Name a Napa Valley vintner who has influenced you and briefly explain why.
My father Norman deLeuze, he was a great mentor in so many ways, especially his belief in working hard and never giving up. It is a privilege to say he was my father.
What are the most rewarding aspects of your work?
I like getting to work with my brother and nephew at our family-owned winery and sharing our great wines and top-notch hospitality with guests. There’s nothing more rewarding than hearing a guest say they’ve found their new favorite wine, which means they’re going to continue having a great experience with ZD.
Our motto at the NVV is "cultivating excellence." What does this phrase mean to you and how do you cultivate excellence at your winery?
Our motto at ZD is “Zero Defects” which came from the aerospace industry when our founders were working on rocket engines. I am sure it has many similarities to “cultivating excellence” as we strive for excellence in everything we do from organic farming to world-class winemaking; while offering amazing hospitality experiences and working to make the world a better place through philanthropic efforts.
What are you doing at your winery to help preserve and enhance Napa Valley for the future? (e.g., sustainable practices, family succession plan, community service, etc.)
We embrace an ecologically sensitive approach to all aspects of our operation. The winery and vineyards use solar energy, biofuels, composting, cover cropping recycling, water conservation and more to conserve and enhance our planet. Our Rutherford and Carneros Estates have been certified organic by the California Certified Organic Farmers (CCOF) since 1999 and ZD is certified by Fish Friendly Farming, Napa Green Winery, and California Certified Sustainable Winegrowing. The second and third generations of the deLeuze family own and operate ZD Wines. We live in and support the Napa Community through many charitable organizations with a emphasis on the Napa Valley Boys and Girls Clubs. ZD and the deLeuze Family have also created a Professorship at UC Davis to find a Non-Toxic Cure for Lymphoma and has raised over $1,000,000 to support research.
If you weren't a Napa Valley vintner, what would you be doing?
I would be perusing one of the areas that I most passionate about which include outdoor activities like cycling, skiing, and gardening as well as cooking and entertaining. I would also be happiest if I could tie in philanthropy.
If you could open a bottle of your wine and share it with any three people (living or not), who would they be?
Albert Einstein, Benjamin Franklin and my dad.