Remembering John H. Brahm III


Thank you for asking about John.

John H. Brahm III, the "winemaster" and an owner of Arbor Hill Grapery & Winery, passed away on Saturday, March 2, 2019 at his home in Naples. He was 76. 

John and his wife Katie Brahm opened Arbor Hill in 1987 after he stepped down as a vice president who oversaw more than 850 acres of vineyards in New York and California for Widmer's.

He was heavily involved in the entire process of winemaking, from nurturing seedlings to pouring the finished product, and his son-in-law John French said he happily identified with the term "winemaster" over the simpler title of winemaker.

John was dedicated and hardworking, and said he was always eager to guide someone who wanted to learn about business.

"To put in 18-hour days was not atypical for him because he loved what he did," French told the Democrat & Chronicle in an interview. "He embodied the phrase 'If you love what you do, you never work a day in your life.'"

Rather than simply start another winery, the Brahms took a different tack, selling wine sauces, mustards, salad dressings, snack dips and more gourmet foods as well as wines. Arbor Hill later opened a restaurant, Brew and Brats.

Arbor Hill has long been known for its Traminette wines. When Brahm began doing field trials with the vines, Cornell University had not even assigned a name to the experimental white grape, a Gewürztraminer cross. He said he was the first in the world to develop a wine from the grape, a white he introduced at the 1996 Cool Climate Symposium in Rochester. 

“John was an icon in our industry,” Finger Lakes Visitors Connection’s President Valerie Knoblauch said.