Winery Spotlight – Baker Lane – Reconnecting with old friends
Baker Lane Vineyards produces cool-climate, organic (although not certified), and sustainably farmed wines from their home and farm in the southwestern side of Sebastopol, California. The proximity to the Pacific Ocean offers cool, daily maritime breezes that provide optimal conditions for the Syrah and Viognier grapes grown at the property. 2021 marks eighteen years making wines at this vineyard. Baker Lane isn’t just growing plants, they’re growing flavor, specifically the flavor of their land. This recognition propels a commitment to winegrowing and winemaking that gains depth and nuance with each passing year.
Stephen Singer, founder of Baker Lane Vineyards, has been in the wine industry for over forty years. Among his first venture was opening a retail store in San Francisco, Singer & Foy Wines, a bottle shop with a global wine tasting scope. He was also the wine director at, and a partner of Chez Panisse, in Berkley, California for sixteen years. Along the way he opened his own restaurant in Napa Valley, Table 29, in 1991. A sophisticated yet casual dining spot with over 500 wines from around the globe. After a few years at Table 29, Singer sold the restaurant to follow his deep passion for olive oil by starting an olive oil and balsamic importing business that he focused on for twenty years.
Singer’s entrepreneurial spirit, tethered to a desire to gain an empirical understanding of viticulture and winemaking, led him to create Baker Lane Vineyards and some years later sell the import business. Owning a vineyard has provided him the rare opportunity to transform 15-acres into an uncertified bio-dynamically farmed Syrah and Viognier vineyard with singular terroir, olive orchard, and home. Baker Lane’s mission is to produce sustainably grown, exceptional expressions of cool climate Syrah and Viognier. These two varietals are not typically grown in this area, making Baker Lane unique. The cool climate allows for a 3-6 week longer growing season than neighboring wineries, allowing the grapes to develop ripeness over an extended period of time. Staying on the vine longer allows for a slow maturity, giving flavor complexity and acidity without the over-ripeness of a hotter climate. In being able to extend the grape’s time on the vine complexity, brightness, and strong secondary and tertiary notes are strong in the resulting wines. Singer aimed to truly identify a sense of place and distinct expression of climate when naming the winery. Baker Lane is the name of the road that the vineyard is on, therefore, he felt it was the perfect name.
Baker Lane’s Winemaker, Greg Adams, has worked for over twenty-five years in developing and farming an impressive array of vineyards in California, as well as internationally. Adams has accumulated extensive knowledge of cutting edge organic and bio-dynamic practices. Baker Lane’s philosophy emphasizes the essential connection between site and flavor, thus having someone with Adam’s keen attention to detail, fine palate, and deep institutional memory is invaluable in helping to insure optimal agricultural outcomes that lead to exceptional wines. His ongoing viticultural oversight and winemaking role are essential elements in Baker Lane’s quest to constantly elevate its ‘winegrowing’ efforts to an ever-higher level.
You won’t want to pass up these exceptional, small production, and affordable wines from Baker Lane:
2020 Baker Lane Viognier “Estate” Sonoma Coast $35.95
San Francisco Wine Panel Score 92+ Points
Youthfully bright and focused, the nose of this food-worthy bottling offers scents of young fresh pear, key lime, lychee, apricot pit, white pepper and mace. It is both richer and more expressive on the palate, where a creamy texture is counter-pointed by piquantly fresh flavors of pear, lychee, white peach, apricot pit, green apple skin, key lime, white pepper and a hint of parsley. Rich and lingering, the finish finds a close to ideal balance between richness and zest. It will be terrific with raw sea foods, quenelles or spicy grilled chicken. 50 cases made.
2017 Baker Lane Syrah “Estate” Sonoma Coast $27.95 (375ML)
San Francisco Wine Panel Score 97+ Points
This is an intensely fruity, spicy, focused, harmonious and altogether impressive Syrah. The aromas are a chiseled mix of black raspberry, pomegranate, violet, dried red raspberry, red plum galette, dried cranberry, bresaola, pink peppercorn and dried herb scents. It is piquantly fruity-spicy and shows plenty of polished grip on the palate, where cherry pit, red apple skin, white pepper, mace and mineral notes frame-in grander flavors of sour dark cherry, dark boysenberry, red plum galette, dried raspberry, dried herbs and roasted game. If rich in body and very long, it finishes lean in texture and with terrific food balance with a great combination of intensity and elegance. 150 cases made.
2018 Baker Lane Syrah “Estate” Sonoma Coast $41.95
San Francisco Wine Panel Score 93+ Points
Brightly fruity and forthcoming, the aromas of this engaging Syrah are a focused medley of pomegranate syrup, red boysenberry, raspberry coulis, violet, pink rose, cherry pit, mace and a hint of rosemary. It is zesty and mineral-dry on the palate, where black raspberry, cherry pit, peppercorn and rosemary notes take center-stage. The finish is youthfully bright and lingers with fine balance, so it is already food friendly. Expect three years of steady improvement. 300 cases made.
2014 Baker Lane Syrah “Estate” Sonoma Coast $46.95
San Francisco Wine Panel Score 97 Points
This classy Syrah is Rhone-like in both flavor and style, as cellar-time has endowed it with the depth and balance of a fine Cornas. The nose delivers a bouquet of black raspberry, spicy red plum, dark boysenberry, Cherry Bounce brandy, cherry cream-sickle, dark rose, violet, pink and white peppercorn, bresaola and dried herbs. It proves as intense and focused on the palate, where that same piquant fruit and spice mix is firmed by hard-edged minerality. This creates an intense yet silky textural impression that carries through a remarkably long finish. Likely to yet improve, it should be a stunner with grilled or roasted lamb right now.
2019 The Fields Chardonnay Sonoma Coast $23.95
San Francisco Wine Panel Score 90+ Points
This is a bright and forthcoming Chardonnay with a racy, food-friendly balance. The nose combines scents of fresh apple, green apple skin, lemon, lime and a hint of peach pit. Fresh applesauce, quince, preserved lemon, key lime and hints of clove and vanilla join mineral notes on the palate, where the texture is sleek and rather Macon-like. The finish lingers well, and the wine will be easy to enjoy with a wide variety of appetizers and entrees. 450 Cases produced, by Baker Lane Winery.
To make tasting reservations by appointment visit their website bakerlanevineyards.com.