Our Why – Good People, Good Wines, Good Times

The motivation to start Great Basin Winery was inspiration from family and friends. It all started with a 50th anniversary gift for my parents about 10 years ago. The gift was making a barrel of wine at a boutique winery in Amador from us kids. I had been making hard cider and kits, but was hooked from the day we started. The winery owner was a biochemist that had recently retired as a hospital administrator to fully commit himself to his already successful commercial winery. He had a passion for teaching I listened intently when he pleasantly shared his experiences. As an engineer and educator my curiosity got the best of me and I started ready textbooks on enology and viniculture, taking in online lectures and course, and attending industry conferences…that same Fall.

Of course winemaking took fruit, so it also initiated the process of getting to know vineyard owners and winemakers. I repeatedly read and was told how it took good fruit to make good wine, so I sought out to get a hold of the best fruit possible for the basement winemaking going on at home. Vineyards were researched by reviewing commercial wine competition results that required reporting of grape sources. I then began to reach out to some vineyards that consistently produced award winning wines asking to buy small quantities. Before I knew it the carboys were replaced with barrels, there was a storage unit full of equipment and rather than making 50 cases a year a couple hundred became the norm. As did consistently winning medals giving me confidence that the wines were actually good, rather than just liked because they were free! Friends and family were thrilled, but my wife appropriately helped me recognize that my addictive personality had turned a passion into a monster in the basement.

Our Winemaking Approach

Our philosophy is traditional winemaking with the patience it requires, minimal intervention, and lots small enough to assure excellent quality. Our wines are variety specific and tasting notes start with recording the aromas and tastes upon crushing the fruit before starting fermentation. Of course it all starts with good quality grapes. Long-term relationships with owners of select vineyards that consistently produce fruit used to make award winning wines are critical to the quality of the Great Basin wines. We focus on single vineyard, single variety wines unless a particular red blend is desired. We also believe in allowing the fruit to be the best it can be. So we don’t manipulation fruit or wine chemically or use adjuncts and if fermentation occurs naturally it isn’t stopped. All red wines are barrel aged with a blend new to neutral barrels. Well-balanced big reds are a common theme. French oak barrel aging reds 18-24 months before bottling is typical with a small percentage of American oak barrels used with our Zinfandel. Finally our red wines are unfiltered for building body. In summary, the philosophy is traditional and as natural as possible with old fashion patience. I remember the Paul Masson marketing stated by Orson Welles as a kid in the 1970’s, “We will sell no wine before it is time.” and I whole-heartedly believe in this.