November 5, 2015

BAKER & BRAIN, San Luis Obispo

Small-lot, sustainable wines from California's Central Coast. 

Gruner Veltliner, Grenache Blanc and Pinot Noir. 

Limited availability. 


Maximum attention, minimum intervention

You could say that Matt Brain and Josh Baker are modern-day garagistes. The pair remembers the humble beginnings of this project, when the idea was sparked over a campfire, a marmot and a flask of whiskey on a camping trip through Yosemite. It was then that they realized a shared goal: to produce high quality, minimal intervention wines from some of the best fruit sources in California. Today, they work closely with a number of growers along the Central Coast and select the best grapes from cool-climate sites. After that, they let the juice do the talking. The wines are minimally processed so that the purity and character of the grapes and the select vineyards are able to shine.

Sustainability is at the forefront of production. Still too small to have their own winery, the wines are made at a custom crush facility in San Luis Obispo that is entirely solar powered, and where 100% of the waste is recycled (it’s also SIP Certified). What’s more, they use only lightweight, recycled-material bottles, and the labels that adorn them are made from recycled paper. Their first vintage in 2008 yielded onto two barrels of Syrah. Since then they’ve grown to 1300 cases, made up of 10 different wines. Matt and Josh think outside the box — they offer a single-vineyard Gruner Veltliner, scarcely seen outside Austria, and a rich, beguiling Grenache Blanc. Site-specific Pinot Noir and Syrah have also been making quite a splash in the press. If you’re hearing about Baker & Brain for the first time, get used to it. They’ve recently been named one of Five Artisan Winemakers to Watch in SLO County (The Tribune article here).

Both men have backgrounds in Biological Sciences and experience working in large wineries.  Josh was formely head winemaker at Edna Valley Vineyards and is now the head winemaker at Tolossa winery's impressive custom crush facility. Matt teaches in the Enology department at Cal-Poly SLO, where he also manages the cellar.  


2014 Gruner Veltliner
'Paragon Vyd', Edna Valley

Retail: $51.95 / bottle (12 btls/cs)

Gruner is a characterful, savoury, high acid grape native to Austria. This single-vineyard expression from California's Edna Valley is a unique wine bursting with personality. With certainly more body than its Austrian counterpart, the wine retains its varietal character with defining notes of bitter orange peel, apricot, white pepper and cheese rind. 


2013 Grenache Blanc 'Paragon Vyd', Edna Valley

Retail: $44.95 / bottle (12 btls/cs)

Aromatic and expressive, this Grenache Blanc isn't shy on weight or complexity. Look for notes of lemon curd, white peach, jasmine, honey and an appealing waxy character. The palate is broad and full ending with a textured, mineral finish. 


2013 Pinot Noir, Central Coast

Retail: $54.95 / bottle (12 btls/cs)

91 Points — Wine Enthusiast
Fresh ripe raspberry aromas are cut with cranberry-skin tartness... They have also managed to sneak blood, pencil shavings, eucalyptus and vanilla stick into the nose of this appellation blend. It’s lively and tasty with ripe, tart red fruits once sipped, juicy yet cut with chaparral scrub elements.