As a young man in Europe, Francis Korbel participated in the stormy Bohemian Revolution of 1848. For taking part in this uprising, Francis was captured and imprisoned, but escaped from jail one day by calmly walking out an unlocked gate – wearing civilian clothes brought to him by his mother and smoking a cigar.
Francis fled Bohemia for New York, where he learned the fine art of cigar making. Captivated by the stories of the California Gold Rush, he moved to San Francisco and opened a storefront repairing cigar boxes with brothers Joseph and Anton. Eventually the Korbels found opportunity in the booming lumber business and opened a sawmill in the Russian River Valley of Sonoma County with their youngest brother, Winsel.
The Korbel brothers discovered that the climate of the Russian River Valley was similar in nature to the French Champagne region and was ideal for fine winemaking. Paying homage to his European heritage and devoted to producing only the best, Francis Korbel mastered the art of producing fine handcrafted brandies while also creating premium champagnes using the traditional méthode champenoise.
In 1889, seven years after the debut of his champagne, Francis Korbel began shipping his premium Korbel California brandy. By the turn of the century Korbel was internationally known as an award-winning brandy.
Korbel California brandies continue to be honored for their exceptional quality at international tasting competitions.
It is Francis Korbel’s rebellious spirit, century-old tradition, and passion for producing only the finest California brandies that lives on in every glass of Korbel.