Brown released his debut album, I Tell It Like It Used to Be, in 1986 and quickly rose up the ranks of country music, with three #1 hits by the end of the decade. His fortunes faded in the '90s when his label, Capitol Records, became enamored with Garth Brooks and diverted their attention away from Brown, who left the label and signed with Warner Bros. He languished at Warner and left 18 months later without releasing any music. Sony signed him, but that also resulted in nothing, and they dropped him as well.
Brown developed an alcohol addiction during this time and wrote "Wine Into Water" about it. In 1995, he included the song on a self-financed album called From a Stronger Place that he sold at shows. In 1998, he issued the Wine Into Water album, with a re-recorded version of the title track, on the independent label Platinum Records. The song did well on Contemporary Christian radio and helped reboot Brown's career.