In their first vintage, they made a syrah from Gilroy grapes and won a silver medal at the Santa Cruz County Fair. In their second vintage, they are making more syrah, along with other Rhone varietals, like Mourvedre and grenache. The group blends these grapes and stores them in either a neutral drum or neutral oak. Most red wines you buy in the store get at least a year of new oak; thus, the Baurmeister wines are unique in their light and fruit-driven characteristics, compared with other reds.
The group members agreed that they “blend the grapes and experiment with technique to try and make the best wine possible.” The red wine they made that has never been in oak is quite interesting. To taste a red wine that has never been introduced to oak makes one realize how much oak truly changes red wine. This “oakless” Rhone blend was almost like a rosé in both color and lightness. It was also quite pleasant to taste something so fresh on a cool day in Boulder Creek.
The best part of the visit was discovering that, while his cohorts bottle their wine in recycled glass, Baurmeister stores much of his in used Pellegrino bottles. Apparently, Ken’s family members are big Pellegrino drinkers, and the empty bottles make for good short-term wine storage. It was amusing and enlightening to see the ingenuity of using the light-green sparkling water bottles for wine.
The Baurmeister cellar was also something to admire in its simplicity and utility. Ken has a small refrigeration unit installed in the wall and keeps a 100-square-foot closet space next to his barrel room temperature-controlled. It was a fully-functional wine cellar, and the cooling unit cost only about $400.
A temperature-controlled wine cellar for only $400? I might have to look into this. Cheers!
Austin Twohig is a certified sommelier and partner in The Santa Cruz Experience, which conducts winery tours in the Santa Cruz Mountains. Contact him at email@example.com.