In 2001, when veteran farmer Budge Brown first decided to make wine, he chose the tulip to symbolize the quality, rarity, and soft approachable style of the wines he hoped to produce. He asked his industrious daughter, Kristi, to be his business partner and together they started Tulip Hill Winery.
The word “together” is meaningful here, because Budge and Kristi spend most working days 520 miles apart. As her father tended to the first vintage, Kristi, who lives near Palm Springs, focused on finding a location for a tasting room. She wanted to bring a taste of Northern California wine country to the desert and found the ideal spot—at The River at Rancho Mirage.
Picnic grounds, beautiful gardens, gift shop, weddings and receptions, wine club discounts
In 2003, Budge settled on the historic Bartlett Springs water bottling building on the North Shore of Clear Lake in Lake County for the winery’s permanent home. The renovated building became the official home to Tulip Hill Winery and Visitor Center. A favorite stop on the wine tourer’s map year round, this location is particularly spectacular at the end of March, when its more than 30,000 tulips are in full bloom. In fact, on the last Saturday in March, the winery hosts the Annual Festival of Tulips with food, music, and plenty of exquisite Tulip Hill wines.
Budge brought on Winemaker Mikael Gulyash in 2008 to protect his standard for excellence. “Restrained winemaking promotes alluring, fruit-forward style wines that harmonize with the meal or mood,” Mikael contends. The wines are handcrafted and made in a boutique style in small lots. “We strive to create balanced approachable wines that let the fruit do the talking,” Michael says.
The portfolio is a long one, complete with several compelling blends and unique varietals. Even the most seasoned wine connoisseurs report discovering something entirely new when they visit one of Tulip Hill’s two tasting rooms. Budge’s hopes have certainly been realized in the magnificent wines he named Tulip Hill.