Daniel and Sam Baron bring a combined 60 years of grapegrowing and winemaking experience on three continents to their approach to making Complant wines.
Complant is an obsolete French word that means a cultivated perennial plant that produces fruit. Sam and Daniel Baron chose to name their wine Complant because they feel that the interface between humans and grapevines is at the core of their winemaking philosophy. Sam and Daniel bring a combined 65 years of experience to their approach to the craft of artisanal winemaking. Daniel, an accomplished musician, was once told by a virtuoso who had just played a flawless Bach prelude on Daniel’s 1924 Gibson F-2 mandolin, “Dan, you’re playing it too hard. When you play a beautiful instrument like this, let it do the work.” Sam, an accomplished potter, knows when he works with beautiful stoneware and forms a classic shape, he doesn’t need to overdecorate his piece – he lets the form and the substance speak. This is the essence of the Barons’ approach to winemaking – when you work with beautiful terroir, let it do the work; let it speak. In doing so, they produce vibrant, expressive, moderate alcohol wines that are the next step in the evolution of Napa Valley winemaking. These are the wines of Complant.
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 returned to France in 2018/2019 where he was the first American to complete a Diploma in Pruning from the Université de Bordeaux. This was a return to his roots in many ways, not the least of which was an opportunity to replenish his wardrobe of peasant garb. In 2017, Daniel and his eldest son Sam began their own winemaking venture: Complant Wine.
Sam Baron grew up walking vineyards with his father. His early jobs with vineyard management companies confirmed that a career in wine was what he wanted. After earning a viticulture and enology degree from UC-Davis, he did harvests in Napa, New Zealand and Burgundy before returning to California and working for Broc Cellars, Nickel and Nickel, Kivelstadt Cellars, and Ashes and Diamonds Winery. He is also a founder of Les Lunes and Populis Wines.