Big Basin Lester Family Vineyard Pinot Noir 2015
2015 was a classic low yielding, high concentration vintage in the Santa Cruz Mountains. Years of drought followed by an early bud break and then Spring rains had a major impact on yields with most of our Pinot vineyards at less than 50% of normal. The remainder of the vintage was moderate to warm which brought on rapid ripening during the harvest season. Winemakers needed to be very tuned into their vineyards or they were likely to pick excessively ripe fruit. We started picking our Lester Pinot on August 19, our earliest date yet. The berries were extra small and the clusters lighter than usual which made for very small yields and a wine that is especially intense.
Critical AcclaimAll Vintages
Located in the heart of the Santa Cruz Mountains, Big Basin Vineyards is terraced into a steep hillside first planted to grape vines by French immigrants over 100 years ago. Their winery and the vineyards they work with are located at sites in the Santa Cruz and Gabilan Mountains that are as beautiful as they are exceptional for grape growing. They farm organically and practice minimal-intervention winemaking with the goal of producing wines that transparently and authentically express site and variety.
Big Basin believes that their choice of vineyards, picking at the right time to retain intensity and elegance, and minimalistic winemaking practices are the keys to producing more aromatic and ethereal wines - new world wines with old world soul. Owner and winemaker Bradley Brown has been on a 20 year quest to produce beautiful and soulful wines. Winemaker Blake Yarger joined the team in 2017 and together they are always fine tuning practices to more transparently express the vineyards.
A rugged and topographically diverse cool-climate appellation with a rich history, the Santa Cruz Mountains AVA stretches from Half Moon Bay, just south of San Francisco, to the northern border of Monterey County. Elevations range from 800 feet to upwards of 3,000 and microclimates vary substantially depending on which side of the mountains the vineyards lie; cool ocean winds and fog play an important role here. This can be a challenging region in which to grow grapes, but it is well worth the effort. Santa Cruz Mountains wines are noted for balanced acidity levels, often showing great aging potential. Wine has been made here since the 1800s, most notably from the legendary Ridge Vineyards, whose Monte Bello vineyard garners international admiration.
Pinot Noir, Chardonnay and Cabernet Sauvignon are the stars of this region, while Merlot and Zinfandel also perform quite well. Organic and sustainable vineyard practices are becoming increasingly common.
Thin-skinned, finicky and temperamental, Pinot Noir is also one of the most rewarding grapes to grow and remains a labor of love for some of the greatest vignerons in Burgundy. Fairly adaptable but highly reflective of the environment in which it is grown, Pinot Noir prefers a cool climate and requires low yields to achieve high quality. Outside of France, outstanding examples come from in Oregon, California and throughout specific locations in wine-producing world. Somm Secret—André Tchelistcheff, California’s most influential post-Prohibition winemaker decidedly stayed away from the grape, claiming “God made Cabernet. The Devil made Pinot Noir.”