The wines of Big Basin Vineyards, Santa Cruz Mountains, California


Bradley Brown founded Big Basin Vineyards after a career in Silicon Valley. He’s based in the Santa Cruz Mountains, an area which he fell in love with in the 1990s. He bought a house in the region and fell for the wines of Ridge and Mount Eden. In 1998 he bought a property in the region, with a view to establishing a vineyard. He’d got to know John Alban, who held the hand of this newbie as he established a 10 acre estate vineyard. In addition to this vineyard source, Big Basin also buy grapes from some of the top vineyards in the Santa Cruz and Gabilan Mountains.

Since he started out, Bradley has shifted his stylistic direction. He’s veered away from riper wines and small oak towards picking earlier, using whole bunch for the reds, and also maturation in larger-format oak. Farming is organic, and there’s minimal use of sulfites and interventions such as fining and filtration are hallmarks of this winery.


Big Basin Coast View Chardonnay 2017 Monterey County, California
From two rows of vines in the highest vineyard in Monterey County, located at 700 m in the Gabilan Mountains, planted on decomposed quartzite/granite and limestone soils. Fermented and aged used oak. Textural, with some wax and aniseed notes, as well as a bit of nuttiness, and lively spicy notes. Shows pear and grapefruit, as well as lovely freshness on the finish. 94/100

Big Basin Lester Vineyard Pinot Noir 2017 Santa Cruz Mountains, California
13.3% alcohol. The Lester vineyard is located in the Corralitos foothills at the south end of the Santa Cruz Mountains, and benefits from cool fogs and air from the Monterey Bay. Sandy loam soil. 100% whole bunch in 2017. Sweet, textured fruit that’s lively, grainy and spicy with plenty of richness. It’s a bit meaty with some green notes, but the dominant theme here is lovely sweet fruit. Very fine. 95/100

Big Basin Dune & Mountain Pinot Noir 2019 Santa Cruz Mountains/Monterey, California
12.6% alcohol. A blend of Pinot Noir from the Lester (Santa Cruz) and Coastview (Monterey) vineyards, 100% whole bunch. Textured and fine; ripe and balanced. Juicy red cherry fruit and a touch of strawberry. Supple, elegant and fine. 94/100

Big Basin Gablian GSM 2016 Gabilan Mountains, Monterey, California
15% alcohol. Grenache and Syrah sourced from the 17 year old vines of the Coastview Vineyard and also the Brosseau Vineyard in the Chalone AVA. Mouvedre is from the Rodnick Farm Vineyard. This year the blend is Grenache (45%), Syrah (30%) and Mourvedre (25%). Much of the Grenache was aged in concrete, with the remainder in neutral barrels. Smooth, ripe and rich with lovely depth and a bit of meatiness. Warm and spicy with rich, bold fruit. Notes of blackberries and cherries, with real depth. 92/100

Older notes from January 2019:

Big Basin Vineyards Coastview Vineyard Chardonnay 2014 Monterey County, California
Clone 96, from two terraced rows in the highest vineyard in Monterey, at 2300 feet. Decomposed quartz and limestone, 2 new barrels out of 9. Distinctive and a little oxidative with some apple and pear fruit, as well as some citrus brightness. Some nice depth and texture here. Very interesting. 93/100

Big Basin Vineyards Homestead Vineyard GSM 2014 Santa Cruz Mountains, California
13.9% alcohol. High lying sites with granite/limestone soils. Mourvedre, Grenache, Syrah, Carignan, and Cabernet Sauvignon. Old oak. Structured yet elegant with beautiful direct black cherry, raspberry and blackberry fruit. Very refined with good structure and nice freshness. Lovely compact fruit. Such elegance. 94/100

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UK agent: Nekter