SF Chronicle: 12 California wines that define 2020



By Esther Mobley | Dec. 15, 2020

12 California wines that define 2020

These wines, which make up a case, are not only delicious — they tell the story of what happened with wine in this tumultuous year.

Big Basin Vineyards 2017 Homestead Grenache Blend
The winemaker of this energetic Rhone-style wine lost his home in August’s lightning fires. For several days in August, winemaker Bradley Brown had no idea whether his Santa Cruz Mountains home and winery were still standing. The CZU August Lightning Complex fires had forced Brown, owner of Big Basin Vineyards, to evacuate, and he knew that the flames were in the immediate vicinity of his property in Boulder Creek. Eventually, Brown learned that his winery had been spared, but his home was in ruins, and he was certain that the thick smoke had compromised all of the grapes still hanging there. His story was not an anomaly: Many Northern California residents faced similar horrors during the fires this year, and winemakers in nearly every region have seen some of their grapes damaged by smoke.
Four months later, Brown has found a new place to live while he rebuilds his home. He is back to hosting tastings at the winery and is working on building out another tasting room in downtown Santa Cruz. To get a sense of the Big Basin wines, start with a bottling that Brown calls Homestead. It’s a blend of Grenache, Carignan, Syrah and Mourvedre from several special Central Coast vineyards, including the Big Basin estate where the lightning fire hit. More affordable than Big Basin’s other (excellent) Rhone-style wines, the Homestead shows how energetic Grenache can be, with notes of lavender, blackberry and prosciutto, with a delightfully silky texture.”

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