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.