As you approach the Campana Ranch Winery you know it is going to be an unusual experience. You confront the gate: fresh eggs, keep the gate closed for loose horses, and the name. It is a ranch and winery. The wife does the ranch and Steve Baker does the winery. He retired from corporate wine and started his own. The first wine was 2012. So it is not a winery that has been around for a long time. The afternoon I was there they were hauling hay, which he left to talk about wines.
His is one of the few wineries I found that offered petit verdot so that was the reason I was there. I found that he grows pinot noir, but uses his decades of experience to know just what grapes must be to produce outstanding wine. And he purchases widely producing a number of wines including petit verdot. The California wine business is growing grapes to sell to others, purchasing grapes to make wine, and doing some of both, which is the Campana Ranch Winery way.
It is not a big building. The tasting bar is immediately in front of the barrels, and a rack with the wines is on another wall. It is time to taste one on one. He is pouring the fruits of his labors. The petit verdot is big and bold. But so is the syrah and the petit syrah and the malbec. These are Great Big Reds. He has more than these four, but these are the Great Big Reds that I found excellent to my taste.
We talked about his experience establishing his own winery. When he opened a bottle I noticed it was a cork rather than a screw on cap. So I asked him about that choice. He said he loved the sound to the cork coming out of the bottle. So tradition lives on in the Campana Ranch Winery — along with Great Big Reds.
If Great Big Reds is your thing, a visit to the Campana Ranch Winery could be a very interesting experience — tasting and talking — for you as it was for me.
Campana Ranch Winery is in Windsor, CA, close to the Sonoma County Airport.
Visit the Campana Ranch Winery website.