We recently chatted with Matt Brain & Josh Baker of Baker and Brain for our quarterly newsletter and thought we would share their thoughts here.
They are fun, and what’s not to love about the bold use of the ampersand?
Since we don’t have the proper sarcasm font installed here, they’ve provided a helpful key for your reading interpretation.
Baker and Brain Interpretive Key
** not kidding
*** kidding about all of that, seriously Josh it never happened*
What brought you to the wine industry?
Well, I always considered myself an accomplished analytical scientist first and a wildly creative artist second… a complex man who is extremely intelligent yet very humble.* But seriously, I studied plant physiology and microbiology in college and was always very interested in fermented foods and beverages. Winemaking appeared to be the ideal career for me as I would be able to utilize my science education, fluid-process engineering experience as well as the artistic side of my personality and (last but not least) my much-higher-than-average alcohol tolerance.**
My wife and I began dreaming a little, and we started asking a lot of questions. We took a good look at the kind of lifestyle that we wanted together, left our careers in Canada, and moved to the Central Coast in 2006. After a handful of years in advancing wine production roles I began working with the infamous Josh Baker, a man who’s legend precedes him by at least a few yards. We quickly realized that the combination of our two very distinct personal styles, but quite similar super-genius minds would easily allow us to take over the world by crafting irresistible wines containing healthy doses of expression and integrity.**
What does the SIP seal mean to you?
The SIP seal is a symbol that validates the consciousness of our choices. Josh and I started this project with the idea of making the correct choices at each stage of the decision making process. Most importantly, this means working with vineyards that are managed using environmentally conscious and sustainable methods while also producing great quality fruit. We have also chosen to be very practical on the winemaking side, with traditional “by-hand” winemaking techniques. We knew that minimizing our winery footprint would take more than size 5 loafers and a shoe horn.*
Also, we have committed to utilizing recycled print material and packaging, and electronic correspondence whenever possible to keep waste to an absolute minimum. Displaying the SIP seal on our labels is a way of sharing with the public the fact that we consider much more than the basic needs of running our business when we make decisions. It’s a symbol that shows that we want to be part of an environmental movement that makes sustainable practices the norm. Hopefully, even if only in a small way, our involvement will encourage others to join in and begin making decisions that support the environment as much as their profit margins.
Why is it important to you to produce SIP Certified Wine?
To us, it is very important to work with farmers that utilize sustainable practices. Josh and I are both biologists at heart and we realize the seriousness of our environmental predicament. As winemakers, we believe there are many ways to coax incredible quality fruit from a great vineyard, however, treating the surrounding ecosystem as well as our incredibly dedicated vineyard workers with maximum amounts of respect is mandatory in our minds. We truly believe in the CCVT values and goals and are really proud to be a part of the Central Coast sustainable community.
What challenges came with this, and what challenges do you see in the future?
Working with ultra-conscious wine growers definitely limits our choices for fruit sourcing, but part of the fun has been researching and inspecting potential vineyards for this project. More and more high quality growers are adopting sustainable practices so things are definitely moving in the right direction. When we find a fantastic growing site and a vineyard manager that is doing things right, it has been relatively easy for us to obtain the fruit we want. We are only requesting a small amount as our production volume is currently very limited and our scale is so small. As we grow however, one of our challenges will be obtaining more fruit from these select vineyards as they are currently in high demand. Part of our mission right now is encouraging vineyard owners and managers (that we would like to work with) to take the next step and become SIP certified so we can move our relationship forward together.
What are a few of your proudest accomplishments, individually and as a team?
First of all, I am proud to have been with my wife for 14 years (she made me write that). We have taken a lot of risks together and we are both really excited about the success we have already achieved in our relatively new careers. I am also proud of the fantastic relationships we have formed with the Bakers. Baker and Brain would be nothing without them (“Nobody and Brain” just doesn’t have the same ring…). They are a very cool trio and I have a lot of fun helping little Jack develop his palette when his mom and dad are out. He has a good vocabulary for whites and lighter reds, and I feel that he will be ready to move into the more muscular reds when he starts losing his baby teeth. “Hey little fella, I think that humus would actually match better with bourbon…”***
How do you see sustainable wines fitting into the marketplace?
It is obvious to us in the industry that sustainable wines are in high demand and will continue to trend in that direction. There are so many wines to choose from in stores and online, sustainability certification gives the customer a great reason to try something new and to develop loyalty to a winery or vineyard they really like. Individuals are starting to understand that their power as a consumer may be even more important than their power as a voter, and progressive thinkers will continue to gravitate towards sustainable wines as they represent a political and social philosophy as well as a tasty beverage that matches oh so well with the fantastic dinner someone is hopefully making for us later.**
When you are not making wine, what can we find you doing?
Nothing, I am always drin… oh you said “making”! Well, wine is certainly a part of our healthy lifestyle, but my wife Melanie and I love to run, hike, camp, practice yoga, surf and generally get into outdoor shenanigans whenever possible. We would ask you to come but I doubt you could keep up. I personally compete in triathlon, so swimming and biking are also on my calendar at least a couple of times a week with regular bike commuting from Morro Bay to the Edna Valley. During more relaxed moments in our crazy work week, we really enjoy cooking local produce from our farm-share program, reading, playing the guitar and painting. We also like to throw huge parties that tend to get out of hand. Link up with us on Facebook or join our mailing list through www.bakerandbrain.com as we would really like to see you at one of our events soon!*
They have several wines that are SIP Certified, and you can buy their wines from their site.
Have you heard of these guys? What would you ask them if you were hanging out?