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History Estate Wines Olive OIL People

“We are proud of how the decades of knowledge we’ve harvested has led us to these wines that we are now excited to present to you. We hope that you enjoy them (and can appreciate the path traveled) as much as we do.”
– Stephen Singer, Proprietor”

History

written by Stephen

My active engagement in the food and wine business now spans 40+ years. Early on in my career, I began developing a deep appreciation for the virtues of the Syrah grape, an affinity that feels touched by kismet. The visionary wine importer Kermit Lynch’s farsighted initiative to champion an array of the then little-known wines of the Rhône Valley had much to do with that.

Over time, my deep immersion in the wine and food business (as a wine retailer and consultant, a restaurateur involved with Chez Panisse, Table 29, César, as an importer of Tuscan olive oil, etc.) led to a move to Sonoma to become a farmer and producer of wine and olive oil, a natural (if not ineluctable) next step .

In a sense, taking on this agrarian quest closed the loop on my connection to the full gamut of possibilities of food, wine and the table. At the same time, though, it has led me to a whole new canon of understandings about the process and commitments entailed with sustainable and regenerative farming, not to mention illustrating palpably how the journey from the ground into the bottle can be exciting, unpredictable, harrowing and singularly rewarding. In other words, it was the next act in my culinary passion play.

The Estate

Sebastopol, California West Sonoma Coast AVA

Year Planted:
Clones:

2003
Six selections of Syrah (Hudson, Durrell, Estrella, 877, Shiraz, 470) and one of Viognier

Planted acreages:
Exposure:
Elevation:
Soil type:

Farming:

5.7 acres Syrah, .6 acres Viognier
West
280 feet
Goldridge (light, sandy loam)
Sustainable, regenerative and non-certified organic

Located in the Sebastopol Hills of West Sonoma County, the Baker Lane Estate is a cool-weather, west facing site with undulating hillside terrain. The Baker Lane Estate vineyards are devoted exclusively to the northern Rhône Valley varieties of Syrah and Viognier.

In 2002 Sebastopol was already well into its transition from a region famous for apples to a vanguard perch in the quest for cooler grape-growing terroir. We loved the area for its beauty and slightly out of the way-ness, but could we grow Syrah of great distinction here? The truth is, I didn’t know.

What I had come to understand, though, from years of visiting many of the world’s great wine regions, is that the world’s best wines were made from grapes that necessarily struggled to achieve maturity. I came to understand that the best grape choice (memorialized repeatedly by the emphatically chosen cultivars for all great viticultural zones) is the one that just barely gets ripe. In doing so, the grapes enjoy more time on the vine developing complexity, color, structure, balance and depth of flavor while avoiding over-ripeness and declining acidity.

Twenty years of farming on Baker Lane has proven that, while we’ve never failed to produce grapes of quality and distinction, each growing season presents a diverse narrative and occasionally very complicated challenges to resolve. Coupling that understanding to the attention to detail provided by Greg Adams (our viticulturist and winemaker since 2007) has meant that the learning curve for understanding the character and potential for our Baker Lane vines has been steep and fascinating.

Alas, the lesson in the meaning and consequence of the site that our Estate vineyard has provided has been profound.

Our Wines

Knowledge gained from ‘mistakes’ has benefited my overall understanding of things, which is to confirm that I’ve had many opportunities to benefit. The implied flavor target for Singer Wine at Baker Lane Estate has been gestating through many seasons of learning , most notably what the true flavor character our site is, or can be.

Axiomatic to our approach is that quality is forever more important than quantity, in particular if we are to sustain the elemental goal to be included in the conversation with singular wines made from Syrah worldwide. This has driven us to focus on the most select areas of our vineyards, sculpting wines from them that reflect the insights gained from our eighteen vintages of wine-growing.

The tiny production efforts of Singer Baker Lane Estate Syrah and Viognier are the literal fruits of that quest. To say the least, it has been a remarkable learning process.

Syrah

syrah

Beautifully farmed and vinified Syrah is unequaled for its potential to render sumptuously hypnotic aromatics, ravishing color (once a painter, always a painter), depth, structure, age-ability, and diverse food friendliness. That it feels more transparent of site than any other noble variety made it a compelling choice to pursue for this cool hillside in western Sonoma county. If there is a distinctive terroir that is intrinsic to this site, unsparingly cultivated Syrah would avail a singular chance to capture and develop it.

Great Syrah-based wines are unmistakably cozy companions with all of the great European ‘red wine’ food options. At the same time the manner in which its spicy, lush fruity flavors enhance various vivid and aggressive cooking (translate global cuisine possibilities) speaks to a kind of universality that few other grapes possess.

Viognier

viognier

I’ve always found the grape intriguing, particularly the complexly floral and stone fruity wines made from it in northern Rhone Valley appellations.

An unanticipated discovery was that Viognier in our site didn’t collapse in to (over) ripeness as it does in warmer zones (in California), instead yielding wines of gorgeous florality, impressive acid retention, energy and complexity. After initially planning to employ it only as a blending component to our Syrahs, we realized that it presented an analogous cool climate version on the white side of things to our Syrah wines. After three years of achieving excellent outcomes, we doubled down and regrafted 450 Syrah vines to it in the lowest (i.e. coolest) section of the vineyard. This added production preserved our Syrah co-fermentation strategy while allowing us to reliably produced a small amount of varietal Viognier as well.

With its vivid aromatics and energetically fruit driven palate sensations (and lack of an oaky overlay) it literally steps up to the plate both with more conventional white food choices and exotic ones as well. With its well-defined acid feature, combined with a measure of tannin that Viognier can sustain, it has also shown a capacity to age beautifully.

Olive Oil

Olive oil’s allure lives deeply in my personal history. My full-blown oleaginous immersion did not arrive until my first trip to Italy at age 20 and only grew from there upon entering the Chez Panisse universe eight years later. Perhaps, though, the experience that most propelled it initially was access to the numerous oils that I was sourcing from the raft of boutique wine importers I worked with when I was a wine retailer in San Francisco. These oils which were produced in Italy, Provence and Spain loomed as repositories of flavor and culture that mirrored the distinction of wines from the same properties. In my quest to expand the pleasures of my table, my interest in fine olive oil was fed by the same voracious curiosity that propelled my education in wine.

In 1984, having the opportunity to visit the esteemed Chianti Classico estate Badia a Coltibuono (a singular early player in the global commodification of great Tuscan oil), the indispensability of great olive oil was intractably cemented on the table that I shared with Alice and our daughter Fanny. Quite simply, almost everything we ate tasted better, more deeply flavorful and satisfying when it included a healthy measure of Tuscan spirited oil.

Soon thereafter I started an enterprise aimed at sourcing beautiful Tuscan oil for our use at Chez Panisse. After mastering the logistics of importing, this venture grew organically as chefs and home cooks alike were eager to embrace the force multiplying effects of great olive oil. Eventually I built a portfolio of several artisan producers augmented by fantastic expressions of vinegar (Balsamic from Modena and fine barrel aged red wine aceto from Chianti).

Producing world class olive oil has become a source of pride for Baker Lane Estate as it is driven by the same passion (and commitment to sustainability and regenerative farming practices) that has fueled all of our engagements here in Sebastopol.

In my years of traveling to Italy to taste and observe the factors that support the production of great Tuscan oil, I was unconsciously preparing myself to tackle the challenge of emulating that standard here. As our trees have matured and the resources for handling the fruit and milling have met the highest standards, I am now thrilled to believe that our oils are mirroring the distinction of their Tuscan inspirations.

Stephen Singer

Proprietor

Although painting has steadfastly remained Stephen’s passion for 50 years, in 1983, with his daughter Fanny in utero, the idea of a working life in the wine business emerged. Fanny’s Mother, Alice Waters, encouraged him to open a retail store in San Francisco, and Singer & Foy Wines (a bottle shop with a wine tasting schedule of global scope) provided an ample on-the-job business and detailed wine education. Traveling broadly throughout the wine world with his mentor, Kermit Lynch, Alice and others, further instilled a fine appreciation for the subtleties of culture and viticulture that make wines of distinction possible.

In serving 15 years as a Board Member and the wine director for Chez Panisse, Stephen was engaged in the ongoing green revolution that it helped spawn. This motivated him to celebrate the indelible connection between the earth and a gracious table through a variety of pursuits. These included wine consulting for many restaurants throughout the Bay Area, helping develop several restaurants of his own (including Table 29 in Napa and César in Berkeley), and Stephen Singer, Olio, an importer and distributor of fine Italian olive oils and vinegars.

This entrepreneurial spirit, tethered to a desire to gain an empirical understanding of viticulture and winemaking (and the attractions of the open space of rural life), led to the creation of Baker Lane Vineyards. It has provided Stephen the rare opportunity to transform its 15 acres into a biodynamically farmed Syrah and Viognier vineyard with singular terroir, olive orchard and home. Baker Lane’s mission to produce sustainably grown, exceptional expressions of cool climate (and most importantly, table friendly) Syrah and Viognier has appropriately drawn on all aspects of Stephen’s skill set. For more on Stephen’s artwork, please visit www.stephensingerart.com

Greg Adams

Vineyard Manager and Winemaker

Greg Adams and Stephen Singer began their collaboration in 2007, when it became clear that Greg’s skill set was distinctly well-suited to help Baker Lane achieve its far-reaching goals for sustainability and viticultural excellence.

Beginning in 2009, Greg deepened his involvement with Baker Lane (Singer Selections?) and fully oversees the winemaking regime.

As Baker Lane’s philosophy emphasizes the essential connection between site and flavor, having someone with Greg’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 in turn. His ongoing viticultural oversight and winemaking role are essential elements in the Baker Lane’s quest to constantly elevate its ‘winegrowing’ efforts to an ever higher level.

Kari Kittinger

Direct Sales & Marketing

Kari started working with the Baker Lane team in 2015 and continues to support the commitment to sustainability and unwavering values behind Stephen Singer’s special winegrowing efforts and winemaking standards.

She holds degrees in wine business marketing and viticulture and has worked with several wineries from the Central Coast to Sonoma County.

Kari also founded and operated a wine cafe and market where she was (serendipitously) first introduced to the Baker Lane wines.

She lives with her family in Petaluma and enjoys yoga, hiking and cooking up the local bounty.

Our Story

SUBHEADER HERE

Each of those are anchor links. Culmination of many years of service and expertise. Welcome to the best version possible of cool climate syrah.

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Syrah from the Sonoma Coast

A DREAM SPOT FOR THIS BEAUTIFUL GRAPE

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A DREAM SPOT FOR THIS BEAUTIFUL GRAPE

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Header 2

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It Started with an Idea

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Culmination of many years of service and expertise. Welcome to the best version possible of cool climate syrah. Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit. Nam non tempus nibh, in aliquam nibh. Proin imperdiet non massa pharetra blandit.

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CALL TO ACTION>

Stephen Singer Artist & Winemaker

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Header 1

SUBHEADER

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Culmination of many years of service and expertise. Welcome to the best version possible of cool climate syrah. Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit. Nam non tempus nibh, in aliquam nibh. Proin imperdiet non massa pharetra blandit.

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Header 3

SUBHEADER

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Header 1

SUBHEADER

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History Estate winesOlive Oil People

“We are proud of how the decades of knowledge we’ve harvested has led us to these wines that we are now excited to present to you. We hope that you enjoy them (and can appreciate the path traveled) as much as we do.” – Stephen Singer, Proprietor”



History

written by Stephen

My active engagement in the food and wine business now spans 40+ years. Early on in my career, I had developed a deep appreciation for the virtues of the Syrah grape and became influenced by Kermit Lynch’s farsighted initiative to champion the then little-known wines of the Rhône Valley. In 1985, though, the intrepid Syrah pioneer Bob Lindquist visited me in my retail store (Singer & Foy) and brought his first Qupe Syrah from grapes grown in the Central Coast. Its beautiful robe and spicy, vivid fruit were revelatory in how they recast my sense of the grape’s potential in the state.

While I can’t claim to be from a family with a long lineage of connection to winegrowing or even farming of any sort – I had buried myself so deeply in the wine and food business (as a wine retailer and consultant, a restaurateur of Chez Panisse, a Tuscan olive oil importer, etc.) it seemed a natural next step to become a farmer and producer of wine and olive oil.

Doing so in a sense closed the loop on my connection to the full gamut of food. At the same time, though, it led me to a whole new universe of understandings about the process and commitments entailed with sustainable and regenerative farming, not to mention illustrating palpably how the journey from the ground into the bottle can be exciting, unpredictable, harrowing and singularly rewarding (interchangeably).



The Estate

Sebastopol, California West Sonoma Coast AVA

Year Planted: 2003
Clones: Eight selections of Syrah and one of Viognier

Planted acreages:
5.7 acres Syrah, .6 acres Viognier

Exposure: West
Elevation: 280 feet

Soil type:
Goldridge (light, sandy loam)
Farming:
Sustainable and non-certified organic

Nestled in the Sebastopol Hills of West Sonoma County, the Baker Lane Estate is a cool-weather, west facing site with undulating hillside terrain. While the prevailing choice for the vast majority of neighboring sites is Burgundian varieties, Baker Lane Estate is devoted exclusively to the northern Rhône Valley varieties of Syrah and Viognier.

Our estate vineyard defines the notion of site.

In 2002 Sebastopol was already well into its transition from a region famous for apples to a vanguard perch in the quest for cooler grape-growing terroir. We loved the area for its beauty and slightly out of the way-ness, but could we grow Syrah of great distinction here? The truth is, I didn’t know.

What I had come to understand (something that became profoundly apparent visiting winemaking regions around the world) is that the world’s best wines were made from grapes that struggled to achieve maturity. In other words, the best grape choice (memorialized repeatedly by the emphatically chosen cultivars for all great viticultural zones) is the one that just barely gets ripe. In doing so, the grapes enjoy more time on the vine developing complexity, color, structure, and depth of flavor while avoiding over-ripeness and declining acidity. So when the viticulturist and winemaker, Fred Peterson (who first helped us in developing our Baker Lane estate) indicated that 7 out of 10 vintages would likely present challenges, that seemed appropriate, even preferred.

Twenty years of farming on Baker Lane has proven him just about right. While we never fail to produce grapes of quality and distinction, the hurdles that each growing season presents have been diverse and occasionally very complicated to resolve. Coupling that to the level of attention to detail that marks the oversight provided by Greg Adams (our viticulturist and winemaker since 2007) has meant that the learning curve for understanding the character and potential for our Baker Lane vines has been steep.



Our Wines

As empirical knowledge has always particularly resonated with me, so has a willingness to explore new possibilities and directions. Knowledge gained from ‘mistakes’ has particularly benefited my overall understanding of things, which is to say, I’ve had many opportunities to benefit. Our new label, Singer Wines at Baker Lane Estate has been gestating through many aspects of learning what the true character is of our site.

The twenty year process has resulted in landing on the best use of our accumulating skill set for both winegrowing and objectifying the most compelling expression of Syrah possible from our property. It reinspired the original quest I committed to in making this move to Sebastopol. And that was and is to expend the greatest effort that we could try to arrive at the most distinctive version of wine that our vines could produce.

Quality is forever more important than quantity and the goal to be included in the conversation with singular wines made from Syrah worldwide is elemental. Working with the most select areas of our vineyards and sculpting wines that reflect the insights gained from eighteen vintages of wine-growing and winemaking has led to these tiny production efforts of Syrah and Viognier. To say the least, it has been a remarkable learning process.

We are proud of how the knowledge we’ve harvested has led us to these wines that we are now excited to present to you. We hope that you enjoy them (and can appreciate the path traveled) as much as we do.



Syrah

Dogma in wine and food pairings is usually unhelpful and championing individual choice when it comes to flavor couplings has always made sense to me. At the same time, I know what works for me as I’ve been guided by experience, conviction and my vigorous quotidian appetites whenever I contemplate the next meal. As a result, the choice of what to plant at Baker Lane Estate was easy i.e. the shining cultivars of the Northern Rhone, my enduring ‘vinous north stars’ (despite the viticultural challenges they might present).

Beautifully farmed and vinified Syrah is unequaled for its potential to render sumptuously hypnotic aromatics, ravishing color (once a painter, always a painter), depth, structure, age-ability, and diverse food friendliness. That it feels more transparent of site than any other noble varietal also made it the obvious choice to pursue for this cool hillside in western Sonoma county. In other words, if there is a distinctive terroir that is intrinsic to this site, passionately cultivated Syrah would avail a singular chance to capture it.

Lastly, great Syrah-based wines are also unmistakably cozy companions with all of the great European ‘red wine’ food options. But, how its spicy, lush fruity flavors enhance more vivid and aggressive cooking, speaks to a kind of universality that few other grapes possess.



Viognier

I’ve always found the grape intriguing, particularly the complexly floral and stone fruity wines made from it in northern Rhone Valley appellations. In fact, though, we didn’t include it in our vineyard scheme originally to produce white wine (despite our copious enthusiasm for all kinds of white wines). The goal was to follow the compelling example of many great wines from France’s Cote Rotie zone and co-ferment a small percentage of it with our Syrah fruit. The logic is that in doing this you can augment the resulting blend’s aromatic complexity, add texture, alcohol and body, and even (somewhat counter-intuitively) enhance the red wine’s depth of color (a function of the high phenolic content of Viognier skins which aids anthocyanin extraction).

We discovered that Viognier in our site didn’t rush to (over) ripeness as it does in warmer zones, instead yielding a wine of gorgeous florality, impressive acid retention, giving energy and complexity. In other words, it presents an analogous version on the white side of things to our Syrah bottling. After three years of achieving excellent outcomes with it, we decided to regraft 450 Syrah vines in the lowest (i.e. coolest) section of the vineyard making it even more possible to sustain our Syrah co-fermentation strategy while producing a tiny amount of white wine as well.

With its vivid aromatics and energetically fruit driven palate sensations (and lack of an oaky overlay) it literally steps up to the plate with more conventional white food choices and the exotic ones as well. With its well defined acid feature, combined with a measure of tannin that Viognier can sustain, it also ages beautifully.



Olive Oil

Olive oil’s allure lives deeply in my personal history. My full-blown oleaginous immersion did not arrive until my first trip to Italy at age 20 and only grew from there upon entering the Chez Panisse universe eight years later. Perhaps, though, the experience that most propelled it initially was access to the numerous oils that I was sourcing from the raft of boutique wine importers I worked with when I was a wine retailer in San Francisco. These oils which were produced in Italy, Provence and Spain loomed as repositories of flavor and culture that mirrored the distinction of wines from the same properties. In my quest to expand the pleasures of my table, olive oil also fed the voracious curiosity that propelled my education in wine.

In 1984, having the opportunity to visit the esteemed Chianti Classico estate Badia a Coltibuono (a singular early player in the global commodification of great Tuscan oil), its indispensability was indelibly cemented for the table that I shared with Alice and our daughter Fanny. Quite simply, almost everything we ate tasted better, more deeply flavorful and satisfying when it included a healthy measure of Tuscan spirited oil.

Thusly inspired, soon thereafter I started an enterprise aimed at sourcing beautiful Tuscan oil for our use at Chez Panisse. After mastering the logistics of importing, this venture grew organically as chefs and home cooks alike were eager to embrace the force multiplying effects of great olive oil. Eventually I built a portfolio of several artisan producers augmented by fantastic expressions of vinegar (Balsamic from Modena and fine barrel aged red wine aceto from Chianti).

My regular trips to Italy to meet my suppliers were annual highlights (for me and numerous accompanying pals). It was through my interaction with farmers, oil producers and observations of the essential components that distinguish great oil that the idea to plant our own orchard of Tuscan olive varietals naturally developed. The estate at Baker Lane, with our Mediterranean climate, balanced soils and even growing season, was well poised to cultivate the noble olive fruit tree. In the ensuing twenty years not only has our olive orchard grown and expanded impressively, but so have other factors that support the production of world class oil in Sonoma. With the ability to hand pick and mill our fruit at an optimal level of maturity and speed, we are hitting the essential points that mark the highest qualitative outcomes. In fact, it was due to my excitement over the distinction of the oils that we can now achieve, that allowed me to reluctantly sell my import business in order to focus on our olive pursuits at home.

Producing world class olive oil has become a source of pride as it is driven by the same passion (and commitment to sustainability and regenerative farming practices) that has fueled all of our engagements at Baker Lane Estate. It is particularly gratifying to see how many clients (for whom over the years I was their trusted ‘olive oil man’) now enthusiastically embrace our Sonoma products. Whether it’s with a simple bruschetta, salad, or internal to poaching, braising, roasting or other uses in the kitchen, our oils make just about anything taste better. Che abbondanza !



Stephen Singer

Proprietor

In 1983, with his daughter Fanny in utero, the idea of a working life in the wine business emerged for Stephen Singer. Fanny’s Mother, Alice Waters, encouraged Stephen to open a retail store in San Francisco, and Singer & Foy Wines was born. A bottle shop with a wine tasting schedule of global scope, the shop provided ample on-the-job business and detailed wine education. Traveling broadly throughout the wine world with his mentor, Kermit Lynch, Alice and others, Stephen was instilled with a fine appreciation for the subtleties of culture AND viticulture that make wines of distinction a possibility.

In serving 15 years as a Board Member and the wine director for Chez Panisse, Stephen was engaged in the ongoing green revolution that it helped spawn. This motivated him to celebrate the indelible connection between the earth and a gracious table through a variety of pursuits, including César in Berkeley, and Stephen Singer, Olio, an importer and distributor of Italian oils and vinegars. This entrepreneurial spirit, tethered to a desire to gain an empirical understanding of viticulture and winemaking, led to the creation of Baker Lane Vineyards. It has provided Stephen the rare opportunity to transform its 15 acres in to a bio-dynamically farmed Syrah and Viognier vineyard with singular terroir, olive orchard and home.

Baker Lane’s mission to produce sustainably grown, exceptional expressions of cool climate Syrah, Viognier and Pinot Noir has drawn on all aspects of Stephen’s experience.



Greg Adams

Winemaker

Greg Adams and Stephen Singer began their collaboration in 2007, when it became clear that Greg’s skill set was distinctly well-suited to help Baker Lane achieve its far-reaching goals for sustainability and viticultural excellence. Greg has worked for over 25 years in developing and farming an impressive array of vineyards in California, including work for Flowers, Stags Leap, and Lynmar. Initially trained at Cal Poly and UC Davis, Greg also went on to gain extensive international experience, plying his trade globally in Mendoza, South Africa, France, and Italy.

Along the way, Greg has accumulated extensive knowledge of cutting edge organic and bio-dynamic practices. Over the last five growing seasons, Greg has deepened his involvement with Baker Lane and he now fully oversees the winemaking regime. As Baker Lane’s philosophy emphasizes the essential connection between site and flavor, having someone with Greg’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 in turn.

His ongoing viticultural oversight and winemaking role are essential elements in the Baker Lane’s quest to constantly elevate its ‘winegrowing’ efforts to an ever higher level.



Kari Kittinger

Direct Sales & Marketing

Kari started working with the Baker Lane team in 2015 and continues to support the commitment to sustainability and unwavering values behind Stephen Singer’s special winegrowing efforts and winemaking standards.

She holds degrees in wine business marketing and viticulture and has worked with several wineries from the Central Coast to Sonoma County.

Kari also founded and operated a wine café and market where she was (serendipitously) first introduced to the Baker Lane wines.

She lives with her family in Petaluma and enjoys yoga, hiking and cooking up the local bounty.

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7361 BAKER LANE , SEBASTOPOL, CA, 95472
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