I had the pleasure of diving into a one-on-one virtual tasting with Daniel Baron of Complant Winery, and it was a fantastic wine chat that gave me some deep insights into Daniel’s fascinating career. Originally hailing from Brooklyn, NY, he took a trip to San Francisco in the Bay Area in 1968 and decided to make it his permanent home. California became not just a place of residence for him but a passion and a whole new direction in life. His journey led him to the countryside, where he acquired property with dreams of starting an organic garden. It didn’t take long for him to realize the potential in vineyards, and that marked the beginning of his journey working hands-on with the vines.
Starting as a vineyard hand for significant wineries, Daniel gradually delved into winemaking, driven by what he affectionately calls being “bitten by the wine bug.” His enthusiasm for wine evolved, leading him to get a BS and MS from UC, Davis and work in Bordeaux, before becoming Director of Winemaking at Silver Oak for 23 vintages! It’s an impressive pedigree that shows his commitment to doing the work. He then went on to create vibrant and lively custom labels. His mission is clear: to express terroir and introduce wines that are not overly done, bringing out the best qualities from both the vineyards and the fruit.
Sam Baron also has an impressive background in wine and is integral to the success of Complant winery. They are a multigenerational winemaking team that combines 50 vintages of experience in the New and Old World. This is the best of both worlds where Baby Boomer meets Millennial and their wine is phenomenal!
Our tasting adventure kicked off with the 2020 Chardonnay from Linda Vista vineyard, a certified organic haven since 2001. This wine is a delight with playful apple notes, citrusy freshness, and subtle hints of minerality. It boasts chamomile, brioche, and apple blossom undertones, all lifted by a nice zest. The wine undergoes a thoughtful process, spending time in barrels with occasional lees stirring, and then maturing in the bottle for a solid 2.5 years. It paired wonderfully with Burrata topped with Pancetta, Figs, and Olives.
Daniel’s philosophy struck a chord with me: “You don’t have to play so hard when it comes to California fruit—let it express itself. Don’t exaggerate and over oak it; let it be Napa!” Post-Chardonnay, we delved into the 2020 Cabernet Sauvignon from South Station Vineyard. It’s the first vintage from the UC Davis Oakville South Station vineyard, marking the fourth year of crafting Cabernet. This wine is a burst of expression with cassis, black fruit, and chocolate notes. Silky on the palate, it leaves behind a touch of spice and a clean, fruity finish. Ideal for fall dishes like risotto, short ribs, and roast chicken with root vegetables, it struck the perfect balance of approachability and flavor intensity.
The term “Complant,” an old-school word for a cultivated vine or tree that produces fruit, holds a special meaning for Daniel. It represents the “4th element of terroir”—the human touch. Without humans, there is no terroir, and this sentiment inspired the name of the wine.
If you’re on the hunt for incredible gifts this holiday season, Complant is the way to go. For the wine lover in your life seeking small-production, amazing Napa Valley wines, I wholeheartedly recommend these. They’re age-worthy but also perfect for sipping right now, making them an ideal choice for the holiday season. Cheers!