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Photo by Ross Brooks

Photo by Ross Brooks

 

Daniel and Sam Baron bring a combined 60 years of grapegrowing and winemaking experience on three continents to their approach to making Complant wines.

 
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Daniel Baron began his career in the early 1970s as a hippie vineyard worker in Knight’s Valley, north of Calistoga. He was part of the early vineyard crew at Chateau Montelena in 1973 and then moved on to study with Dr. Harold Olmo at UC Davis. In 1978, Daniel moved to Philo, where, in addition to being one of the founding members of One Less Clown, he was vineyard manager and assistant winemaker at Navarro Vineyards. In 1981, he left California for France; his intended one-year sabbatical ultimately led to two vintages in the vineyards of Bordeaux. The year 1982 was spent living and working at Chateau Petrus, an experience that left an indelible mark not only on his winemaking but on his no-doubt annoying habit of dressing like a French peasant. His association with Christian Moueix, then owner of Petrus, led him back to California and resulted in a 12-year stint at Dominus. From 1988 to 1993 Daniel was the managing partner of Salmon Creek Cellars, producing barrel fermented Carneros Chardonnay. In 1994 he accepted the winemaking position at Silver Oak Cellars, where he remained for 23 vintages. In 1999 Daniel helped found Twomey Cellars for the Duncan family and eventually retired in December 2016 as Director of Winemaking for both Silver Oak and Twomey. He has recently returned to Bordeaux where he is working on a Diploma in Pruning, returning to his roots in many ways — also taking advantage of the trips to replenish his wardrobe of peasant garb.

 
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Sam Baron grew up around vineyards and wine. After attending Vintage high school, he went on to UC Davis. Here, Sam graduated with a degree in Viticulture and Enology in 2012 and did internships in Napa, New Zealand, and Burgundy. Early in his career, he worked in various aspects of vineyard management in both Napa and Sonoma Counties. His love of wine has lead him on a journey seeking more and more knowledge in all aspects of the winegrowing process. From vineyards to wineries, production to sales, and New World to old. The Socratic nature of wine keeps him ever striving for more and better outcomes, vintage after vintage. Complant fulfills one of Sam's lifelong dreams: to make wine alongside his greatest mentor, who also happens to be his father.

 
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We believe that wine is the expression of a human aesthetic and as such is best directed by an individual.  Rather than compromise on decisions of taste and style, each of us takes charge of one of the wines.  Sam is the champion of the Chardonnay and Rosé and Daniel of the Cabernet.  Since there should be an exception to every rule, we collaborate on the Pinot. Our goal is to use artisanal practices and minimal intervention to produce delicious wines of vibrancy that seamlessly express time, place and the cultivated vine, the Complant.

 

No Capsules?

At Complant wines, we think the question should be “Why capsules?” 

In our fruit sourcing, winemaking and packaging decisions we choose sustainable practices. We use lighter bottles and natural corks leading to a product that consumes fewer resources.

This philosophy has led us to our decision to eschew capsules. The production of wine capsules consumes hundreds of tons of metal per year, the electricity to manufacture them, and in many cases, carbon to ship them halfway around the world. This is all before they go to the landfill! One study states that 20 pounds of tin end up in a landfill for every 1,000 liters of wine produced. Years ago, lead capsules kept rodents from chewing through corks while wine rested in cellars. Now, that lead is outlawed capsules are essentially decoration.

We take care to be conscious of the importance of tradition and ritual in wine service, but when that tradition is wasteful, unsustainable, and has little point other than covering up the cork, we say, “it’s not worth it.” Not to mention, it is one more step between you and the enjoyment of a bottle of Complant wine. Let’s leave that tin for making toy soldiers.