Big Basin Vineyards

Owner(s) Bradley Brown, Samantha Shakti-Brown
Web site www.bigbasinvineyards.com
 
Link to this site
Big Basin Vineyards

A small winery founded in 1998 on a historic site next to Big Basin Redwoods State Park. The owners have restored this historic vineyard site using modern viticultural methods. The Estate Vineyard was planted in 2000 on a steep hillside where French immigrants once grew wine grapes over 100 years ago. Over 90% of the estate is being preserved in its natural state. A new winery was completed in 2003 on the site of the original 1890s house and winery structure which burned downed in the 1970s.

Big Basin's winemaker and proprietor is Bradley Brown who along with his wife, Samantha Shakti-Brown incorporate yoga classes into the weekly work at the estate. The wines are vinfied in small lots using significant whole cluster fermentation. Native yeasts, long cold soaks and minimal intervention.

Big Basin specializes in estate grown Syrah and other Rhone reds from estate vineyards and several other vineyard sites in the Santa Cruz Mountains. Pinot Noir is sourced from Santa Cruz Mountains vineyards, including Alfaro Family Vineyard, Lester Family Vineyard, Woodruff Family Vineyard and Coastview Vineyard. Several white varietals and a rosé are also offered.

The wines are sold primarily through a mailing list, a Wine Club and the website. Tasting is available at the winery's Saratoga Tasting Room at 14598 Big Basin Way Thursday-Monday. Tastings at the estate vineyards and winery are available by appointment

Reviewed Wines

2014 Big Basin Vineyards Monterey County Pinot Noir

13.0% alc., 420 cases, $36. Release spring 2016. A combination of Coastview and Olson vineyards. Clones are 114, 115, 667, 777 and Swan selection. Harvest Brix 22º-23º. 15-year-old vines. 85% whole cluster, native yeast fermentation. Aged 11 months in French oak barrels, bottled unfined and unfiltered. · Moderately light reddish purple color in the glass. The nose is a little more savory than fruity, offering aromas of cherry, spice, pine sap and rose petal. The light to mid weight core of cherry and spice flavors is lifted by good tension and supported by matching tannins. A silky texture adds to the enjoyment. Over time in the glass, a stemmy note emerges on the nose and palate, but this should ameliorate with more time in bottle. Score: 88-89. Reviewed February 26, 2016 ARTICLE »

2013 Big Basin Vineyards Santa Cruz Mountains Pinot Noir

13.3% alc., 325 cases, $36. A stunning modestly priced offering sourced from the winery’s single vineyard sources in Corralitos and Bonny Doon (Lester Family and Coast Grade) 50% whole cluster, indigenous yeast fermentation, aged 11 months in French oak barrels, 15% new. Unfined and unfiltered. · The whole cluster goodness makes an impression on the nose with plenty of rose petal and spice aromas enhancing the red berry fruit. The tannins are firm but tucked in, and the finish is reasonably long and satisfying. An everyday wine for the table. Score: 90-91. Reviewed April 4, 2015 ARTICLE »

2013 Big Basin Vineyards Coastview Vineyard Monterey County Pinot Noir

13.6% alc., 240 cases, $44. Released February 2016. This vineyard is located in the Gabilan Mountains with a commanding view of the Salinas Valley. Soils are nearly identical to Calera’s famous Mt. Harlan vineyards a few miles to the North. Owner John Allen farms the vineyard, planted in 1999, organically. 17-year-old vines planted at 2200 feet elevation in soils of decomposed quartz and granite over base rock with veins of limestone. Clones are 113, 114, 115, 667, 777 and Pisoni selection. 30% whole cluster, (first lot picked was 100% de-stemmed, the secon lot included 56% whole clusters, and the third picked lot 26% whole clusters), whole berry and native yeast fermentation. Aged 15 months in French oak barrels, bottled unfined and unfiltered. · Moderately dark reddish purple color in the glass. Clean aromas of black cherry, black raspberry and earthy flora hold up nicely over time in the glass. Lovely mid weight plus flavors of black cherry and black raspberry with a deft touch of oak in the background. Expansive in the mouth, with remarkable length and fruit intensity on the finish. The tannins are fine grain and easy going making the wine quite approachable, but the wine should pick up more nuance with additional time in bottle. Score: 90-91. Reviewed February 26, 2016 ARTICLE »

2013 Big Basin Vineyards Coast Grade Vineyard Santa Cruz Mountains Pinot Noir

13.2% alc., 135 cases, $48. Released November 2015. 5-year-old vines planted at 1240-1340 feet elevation in loam over limestone base rock soil (there is a limestone quarry across the street from the vineyard). Located in Bonny Doon about 3 miles from the Pacific Ocean. Clones are Pommard, “828,” and 667. Harvest Brix 23.4º-24º. 20% whole cluster, whole berry and native yeast fermentation. Aged 15 months in French oak barrels, 33% new, and bottled unfined and unfiltered. · Moderate reddish purple hue in the glass. Inviting aromas of crushed berries and black cherry with a complimentary note of baking spices. Smooth and satiny on the palate, with a middleweight charge of black cherry and black grape flavors. Open and embracing, and easy to like, with soft tannins, impeccable balance and some finishing goodness. I loved the seductive mouthfeel. Score: 92-93. Reviewed February 26, 2016 ARTICLE »

2013 Big Basin Vineyards Lester Family Vineyard Santa Cruz Mountains Pinot Noir

12.8% alc., 240 cases, $48. Released September 2015. 15-year-old vines planted at 485-570 feet elevation in sandy clay loam over sedimentary base rock soil. This feature vineyard consists of 12 acres of Pinot Noir on Pleasant Valley Road in Corralitos. The vineyard is farmed by noted viticulturist Prudy Foxx: no herbicides, deficit watering and careful canopy management. Clones are Mt Eden (37), 115 and 667. 76% whole cluster (varying percentages from 100% to 57%), whole berry and native yeast fermentation. Aged 15 months in French oak barrels, bottled unfined and unfiltered. · Moderate reddish purple color in the glass. The nose is intoxicating with its blend of dark red cherry and berry, exotic spice, dark rose petal and pine sap aromas. Fans of whole cluster inclusion will go ga-ga over this wine with its array of luscious dark red and black cherry fruit flavors, plenty of spice, a hint of tobacco and savory tea, and a floral note in the background. The wine has impressive harmony with a welcome acid lift that brightens the experience. Add a dreamy texture and you have a compelling wine that is what the French like to call bien élevé. Score: 95-96. Reviewed February 26, 2016 ARTICLE »

2013 Big Basin Vineyards Alfaro Family Vineyard Santa Cruz Mountains Pinot Noir

12.4% alc., 175 cases, $55. Released November 2015. 14-year-old vines planted at 588-730 feet elevation in sandy gravel loam soil. Harvest Brix 22º. 40% whole cluster (one lot de-stemmed and one lot had 66% whole clusters), whole berry and native yeast fermentation. Aged 15 months in French oak barrels. · Moderate reddish purple color in the glass. The nose elevates over time in the glass, offering a lovely perfume of cherry, cranberry, dried rose petal and dried herbs. A mix of red fruits fills the mouth on entry, showing good richness on the mid palate, and finishing with a sprightly mix of red berries, whole cluster spice and a hint of oak. The texture is very comforting, and a welcome savory thread plays in the background. Well-crafted, with matched tannins. Score: 91-92. Reviewed February 26, 2016 ARTICLE »

2013 Big Basin Vineyards Woodruff Family Vineyard Santa Cruz Mountains Pinot Noir

12.6% alc., 170 cases, $60. Release April 2016. 36-year-old vines (one of the oldest vineyards in Santa Cruz County) planted at 436-515 feet elevation in sandy loam over bedrock soils. 4 acres of Pinot Noir planted before the arrival of Dijon clones. Dry-farmed vines in Corralitos. Yield about 2 tons per acre. 75% whole cluster (one lot with 100% whole clusters and the other 42% whole clusters), whole berry and native yeast fermentation. Aged 15 months in French oak barrels, bottled unfined and unfiltered. · Moderate reddish purple color in the glass. Lovely perfume of red and blue berries, spice and rose petal. On entry, the wine is exotically spiced with a delicious complement of red berry and cherry fruit flavors embellished with salient but not overbearing whole cluster goodness. Plenty of nuance in this wine such as notes of savory herbs and sweet smoke, and more subtleties will emerge over time. Thoroughly enjoyable now, with modest but supportive tannins and an energetic finish. Score: 92-93. Reviewed February 26, 2016 ARTICLE »

2012 Big Basin Vineyards Coastview Vineyard Santa Cruz Mountains Pinot Noir

14.0% alc., 240 cases, $44. 20% whole cluster, indigenous yeast, aged 15 months in French oak barrels. Unfined and unfiltered. · Tighter and more tannic than the other wines tasted on this day, but still offering impressive flavor and nuance. The aromas are quite floral with hints of cherry and herbs. Modest in weight, but flavorful, with notes of spiced cherry, anise and pain grille, building in intensity to a lavish and long-lived finish. Score: 92-94. Reviewed April 4, 2015 ARTICLE »

2012 Big Basin Vineyards Lester Family Vineyard Santa Cruz Mountains Pinot Noir

13.5% alc., 220 cases, $44. 42% whole cluster, indigenous fermentation, aged 15 months in French oak barrels. Unfined and unfiltered. · Aromatically inviting with scents of rose petal, exotic spices, anise and dark raspberries. Generous on the attack and finish, with fresh flavors of dark cherry and berry that expand in the mouth. Very suave in the mouth with beautifully integrated tannins. Score: 92-94. Reviewed April 4, 2015 ARTICLE »

2012 Big Basin Vineyards Alfaro Family Vineyard Santa Cruz Mountains Pinot Noir

13.0% alc., 145 cases, $48. 43% whole cluster, indigenous yeast fermentation, aged 15 months in French oak barrels. Unfined and unfiltered. · A savory wine of great interest with plenty of spice and floral nuances supplementing the core of red and black berry and cherry fruits. Impressive phenolic ripeness at this alcohol level with enough sappy fruit to satisfy any Pinot drinker. The stem tannins are firm and slightly astringent and need time to integrate. Score: 92-94. Reviewed April 4, 2015 ARTICLE »

2012 Big Basin Vineyards Lester Family Vineyard Santa Cruz Mountains Pinot Noir

13.5% alc., 220 cases, $48 (retail offer). 42% whole cluster, whole berry and native yeast fermentation. Aged 15 months in French oak barrels, bottled unfined and unfiltered. · Moderate reddish purple hue in the glass. I loved the intoxicating nose with its hi-tone scents of crushed black cherries, bark, exotic spices, rose petal and pine sap. Seamless and sleek on the palate, with a mid weight array of vivacious dark red and black cherry and berry fruits complimented with a riff of spice, oak, anise and sassafras. The cohesive tannins and acidity are beautifully enmeshed with the fruit, and the peacock finish is eye opening. Score: 94. Reviewed February 26, 2016 ARTICLE »

2010 Big Basin Winery Woodruff Family Vineyard Santa Cruz Mountains Pinot Noir

A dry-farmed vineyard located in the Corralitos sub-region, planted over 30 years ago. Elevation is 400 feet. Soils are sandy loam. 25% whole cluster, aged 15 months in primarily transparent French oak barrels. · Deep reddishpurple color in the glass. Aromas of dark berries with a slight green note. Flavors of blackberries and plum with a hint of tarry oak in the background. Bright acidity. Delicate finish that has some length. Good. Reviewed April 13, 2013 ARTICLE »

2010 Big Basin Vineyards Alfaro Family Estate Vineyard Santa Cruz Mountains Pinot Noir

13.4% alc., 150 cases, $44. Aged 16 months in 50% new French oak barrels. 30% whole cluster. · Very light, soft and ephemeral with appealing flavors of raspberries and cherries. Very good. The 2009 vintage was available for tasting to compare and was much bigger with more fruit concentration and tannin. I preferred the 2010 vintage. Reviewed April 13, 2013 ARTICLE »

2010 Big Basin Vineyards Alfaro Family Vineyard Santa Cruz Mountains Pinot Noir

13.4% alc., 150 cases, $44. Whole berry plus 30% whole cluster, indigenous yeast fermentation. Aged 16 months in 50% new French oak barrels. Unfined and unfiltered. · Moderate reddish-purple color in the glass. The nose is riveting, pulling you in with bright aromas of black raspberries and spice. Very lovely and plush on the palate with a seamless array of dark berry fruits, finishing with a satiny display of beautiful fruit. A captivating wine and one of the best I sampled at this year’s WOPN. Exceptional. Reviewed April 13, 2013 ARTICLE »

2009 Big Basin Vineyards Alfaro Family Vineyard Santa Cruz Mountains Pinot Noir

14.3% alc., 144 cases, $44. From a vineyard in Corralitos. Yields of 1 ton per acre with small clusters and berries. One lot fermented with 15% whole cluster and one lot 100% de-stemmed. Indigenous yeast fermentation. Aged 16 months in 50% new French oak barrels. Unfined and unfiltered. · Medium reddish-purple color in the glass. Aromatically attractive, featuring scents of sweet black raspberries, black plum and savory herbs. Moderately rich flavors that echo the nose, picking up intensity over time in the glass. Hints of oak vanillin and herbs add interest. Nicely composed, offering pliant tannins, good acidity and some length on the finish. Needs more time in the cellar and could easily end up like the excellent 2008 vintage bottling. Good (+). Reviewed June 24, 2012 ARTICLE »

2009 Big Basin Vineyards Lester Family Vineyard Santa Cruz Mountains Pinot Noir

14.1% alc., 193 cases, $44. From a cool vineyard near Corralitos in the southern Santa Cruz Mountains. Very low yields. Fermented with 15% whole clusters using indigenous yeasts. Aged 16 months in 50% new French oak barrels. Unfined and unfiltered. · Dark reddish-purple color in the glass. Evocative aromas of blackberries and blueberries, plum cake and smoky oak. Rich, plush, and full-flavored with a core of black plum fruit wrapped in ripe, firm, proportionate tannins, complimentary oak, and finishing strong and long. Smoothly textured making for good drinking now, but the wine was better the following day from a previously opened and re-corked bottle indicating it will improve with further cellaring. Very good (+). Reviewed June 24, 2012 ARTICLE »

2009 Big Basin Vineyards Lester Family Vineyard Santa Cruz Mountains Pinot Noir

14.1% alc., 193 cases, $44. 15% whole cluster. Aged 16 months in 50% new French oak barrels. Unfined and unfiltered. · Deep, dark reddish-purple color in the glass. Aromas of blackberry jam and plum cake with a touch of oak. Full-bodied and plush, with intensely flavorful blackberry and black plum fruit backed by firm tannins and complimentary oak. Impressive concentration but not excessively weighty. Very good. Reviewed April 13, 2013 ARTICLE »

2009 Big Basin Woodruff Family Vineyards Santa Cruz Mountains Pinot Noir

14.3% alc., 97 cases, $48. From a 30-year-old vineyard in Corralitos. Fermented whole berry with 25% whole cluster, native yeasts, unfined and unfiltered. Aged 16 months in 50% new French oak barrels. · Medium reddish-purple color in the glass. Demure aromas of strawberries, raspberries and red currants with a subtle touch of smoky oak. Middleweight flavors of ripe dark red berries, subtle oak highlights, and whole cluster spice. Nicely composed with supple tannins, satiny mouth feel, and admirable length on the fruit-driven finish. Opens up over time in the glass. Very good. Reviewed June 24, 2012 ARTICLE »

2008 Big Basin Vineyards Alfaro Family Vineyard Santa Cruz Mountains Pinot Noir

14.1% alc., 105 cases $48, release date spring 2011. Sourced from the Alfaro Family Vineyard in Corralitos, located less than five miles from Monterey Bay and exposed to frequent foggy mornings. Dijon clones. 20% whole cluster, whole berry indigenous yeast fermentation. Aged for 14 months in 60% new French oak barrels. Unfined and unfiltered. · Moderate reddishpurple hue in the glass. Persistent and penetrating aromas of strawberries, raspberries, mocha and toasted brioche. Flavorful core of vivid cherries and berries with layered hints of toast, raisin, spice and anise. The fruit is wrapped in gossamer tannins and the finishing fruit grabs hold and lingers. Beautifully crafted with admirable harmony and pinotosity. Will get even better with more time in the bottle. Actually tasted better the next day from a previously opened and re-corked bottle. Very good (+). Reviewed September 22, 2010 ARTICLE »

2008 Big Basin Vineyards Alfaro Family Vineyard Santa Cruz Mountains Pinot Noir

14.4% alc., 105 cases, $48. Dijon clones. 20% whole cluster, indigenous yeast fermentation. Aged 14 months in 60% new French oak barrels. · Moderate reddish-purple color in the glass. Effusive aromas of strawberries, raspberries, spice and cut flowers. Wellendowed with flavors of dark red Pinot fruits fanning out on the palate in waves, finishing with a raspberry kiss. Savory herb flavors add interest. All you could want in a Pinot with supple, dreamy tannins, bright acidity and purity of fruit. With added bottle age, this wine is showing more transparency than the 2009 vintage bottling. Big Basin Vineyards has emerged as one of the top Santa Cruz Mountains Pinot Noir producers along with Windy Oaks, Mount Eden, Rhys Vineyards and Thomas Fogarty Winery. Reviewed June 24, 2012 ARTICLE »

2008 Big Basin Vineyards Woodruff Family Vineyard Santa Cruz Mountains Pinot Noir

14.6% alc., 70 cases, $48, released fall 2010. This vineyard is located in the Corralitos area at the southern end of the Santa Cruz Mountains chain and was planted in 1988. 30% whole cluster, whole berry, indigenous yeast fermentation. Aged for 14 months in 66% new French oak barrels. Unfined, unfiltered. · Moderate reddish-purple color in the glass. The wine is young and tight, offering little fruit on the nose at present. There is some charming dark red berry fruit evident that is nicely framed by oak and persists on the soft finish. The mouth feel is smooth and seamless. I like this wine for its finesse and potential and would like to revisit this wine after a year in the cellar. The wine tasted a slight bit better the next day from a previously opened and re-corked bottle. Good. Reviewed September 22, 2010 ARTICLE »

2007 Big Basin Alfaro Family Vineyard Santa Cruz Mountains Pinot Noir

14.8% alc.. · Nuanced scents of berries, roses and a touch of stem. Alcohol peaks out as the wine sits in the glass. Ripe fruit flavors with a roasted and green bean note. The tannins are supple making the wine easily drinkable. Decent. Reviewed April 8, 2010 ARTICLE »