Big Basin Vineyards (Santa Cruz Mountains)


Owner, Bradley Brown

I had a near-perfect day on Sunday.  I attended Big Basin Vineyard’s Spring Release Celebration in the Santa Cruz Mountains, one of just two days a year owner Bradley Brown opens his winery to the public. Bradley’s vineyard is just up the road from the Big Basin Redwood State Park. The views of the tree-covered mountains from the top of his vineyard are spectacular.

Bradley knows how to throw a party with live music, artisan sausages and cheeses and a local artist painting one of Bradley’s future wine labels. Throw in an 80-degree day, a hike through the vineyard and multiple vintages of Bradley’s Pinot Noir and Syrah, you can’t go wrong.

One of the highlights for me was his new 2011 Wirz Riesling made from 40-year-old vines in the Cienega Valley near Hollister with wonderfully pure, intense fruit and a touch of minerality. This, Bradley says, is meant for his Saratoga tasting room’s new patio. Even more exciting was the 2008 Frenchie’s Ranch Syrah, a tribute to the winery’s rich history and made from grapes grown on Bradley’s best vineyard block, Rattlesnake Rock (there really are rattlesnakes here!). This is Bradley’s consummate wine, and it really shows off what his vineyard is capable of. He only makes 70 cases.


It’s Spring! Vines are flowering.

Big Basin Vineyards has a great story, which I wrote about last year. Read it and you’ll get a real understanding of the hard work and dedication behind one small grape-growing pioneer in pursuit of a vision. Big Basin Vineyards: The Wild West

Bradley’s wines are all very limited in production, and some are only available to his wine club members or through his tasting room. But if you can get your hands on even one bottle of any of the wines listed here, I highly recommend doing so.

Why was it not a perfect day, you may ask? Because I wasn’t there long enough!

2011 Wirz Riesling

2011 Rosé (Grenache, Syrah, Mourvedre)

2009 Woodruff Family Vineyard Pint Noir

2008 Alfaro Family Vineyard Pinot Noir

2009 Alfaro Family Vineyard Pinot Noir

2008 Rattlesnake Rock Syrah

2008 Frenchie’s Ranch Syrah