Big Basin Vineyards

Rooted in the Earth

Whether you start in Santa Cruz or San Jose, getting to the Big Basin Winery takes well over an hour of driving through Redwood forests on narrow winding roads. You may wonder how a vineyard came into existence so deep in the Santa Cruz mountains. But French immigrants began planting vines on these steep hillsides over 100 years ago. Today, having restored the old vineyard slopes, the Big Basin Winery maintains careful stewardship over the historic site, farming organically and keeping yields low. Located adjacent to Big Basin Redwoods State Park, in a zone that's cooled by ocean breezes but standing above the fog layer, the mountain vineyards produce wines with pure flavors and complex nuances. Founded in 1998 by Bradley Brown and Samantha Shakti-Brown, the Big Basin Winery is known primarily for a range of Rhone-inspired wines, such as cool-climate Syrah and classic blends of Syrah, Grenache and Mourvedre. The winery also produces Pinot Noir, mostly from single vineyards in other parts of the Santa Cruz Mountains AVA or in the Gabilan Mountains to the east of Salinas. The Browns are deeply committed to living and working in harmony with their land. The winery building was built from redwood selected from the woods on the estate. They practice organic viticulture (exceedingly difficult when so close to the old forests teeming with pests) and ferment their fruit using only native yeasts and often with a high inclusion of stems or whole clusters. Such dedication produces wines that not only taste delicious but capture the essence of a small farm in the Santa Cruz mountains. The vibrance and subtlety of Big Basin Pinot is what led to their being invited to join the group known as In Pursuit of Balance, a select organization dedicated to understanding, producing and promoting wines that are "balanced," that is to say, made with less manipulation and more restraint (lower alcohol and less extraction) than the California wines that typically earn high scores and cost a bundle. Big Basin is a winery that represents the very best efforts of California's younger generation of wine growers. You won ' t regret a visit to the Santa Cruz Mountains via a glass of Big Basin Pinot Noir. 

Wines from this Winery

2013 Big Basin Santa Cruz Mountains Pinot Noir

2013 Big Basin Santa Cruz Mountains Pinot Noir

This bright and energetic Pinot Noir comes from distinct vineyards at two ends of the Santa Cruz Mountains AVA. About half is from the Lester Family Vineyard, near Corralitos at the southern end of the appellation, which features sandy soils that produce small grape clusters with intense flavor. The rest is from the Coastgrade Vineyard in Bonny Doon, north of Santa Cruz, where the soil offers plenty of limestone. While a mild spring and summer in 2013 prompted an early harvest in many areas, the Coastgrade grapes didn’t reach optimum ripeness until early October. Extra “hangtime” resulted in a wine with gorgeous perfume, intense Pinot flavors, and fine, chalky tannins.  

Details
¥ 6,500
2012 Big Basin Lester Family Vineyard Pinot Noir

2012 Big Basin Lester Family Vineyard Pinot Noir

The Lester Family Vineyard is located in the bucolic agricultural community of Corralitos, at the southern end of the Santa Cruz Mountains AVA. While not as rugged a landscape as the estate vineyards, Corralitos, just 10 km from the Monterey Bay, is emerging as yet another prime location for distinctive Pinot Noir. In a good vintage, like 2012, the area receives a perfect balance of warm and cool temperatures, and the Lester Family Vineyard produced small clusters of fruit with tiny berries. Excellent ripeness of both fruit and stems persuaded Brown to use 42% whole clusters in the fermentation, which partly accounts for the wine’s intense lift and perfume of rose petals, exotic spices and wild herbs. Exquisite pleasure can be had now or well into the 2020s with Big Basin’s Lester Family PN.

Details
¥ 7,800
2012 Big Basin Coastview Vineyard Pinot Noir

2012 Big Basin Coastview Vineyard Pinot Noir

Running along the eastern side of the Salinas Valley in Monterey County, the Gabilan Mountains feature craggy peaks and soils of limestone and granite. They are also a fine terroir for Pinot Noir, as the Chalone and Calera wineries have demonstrated for decades. The Coastview Vineyard stands at an elevation of 800 m, and the small, cool block planted to Pinot Noir features several Dijon clones as well as some Pisoni selection. Bradley Brown believes that in 2012, Pinot Noir from cool sites shows great structure and aromatic complexity. In this wine, floral notes and crushed rocks seem woven together with red cherry, blood orange and pomegranate. But as a youthful and tightly wound wine, aeration (or aging) is recommended.

Details
¥ 7,800
2012 Big Basin Alfaro Family Vineyard Pinot Noir

2012 Big Basin Alfaro Family Vineyard Pinot Noir

Leaving a successful restaurant and bakery business to buy a run-down fruit orchard in Corralitos, at the southern end of the Santa Cruz Mountains, the Alfaros began planting their vineyard in 1999. Aiming to produce world-class Pinot Noir (as well as Chardonnay and Syrah), they planted a range of Dijon clones, employing the tight spacing of Burgundian growers, and have received organic certification for parts of their vineyard. In 2002, the fruit developed excellent phenolic ripeness at relatively low brix (sugar), resulting in a wine that seduces with a generous core of red and black berry flavors, a heady perfume of crushed flowers and savory herbs but a modest 13% alcohol. The way the wine combines forward but delicate fruit and aroma with structure, acidity and tannic backbone will surely confound those who seek to differentiate California and old-world wines.

Details
¥ 8,400