From a longtime career in classical music production for public radio, to being one of the fist wine podcasters to becoming a successful winemaker and brand co-owner, Cartograph Wines’ Alan Baker has had a journey fueled by creativity and passion.
Alan’s “Aha!” moment after opening a bottle of Riesling on a kayak in the middle of a lake, sparked an immediate desire to learn more about wine and ultimately inspired him to leave a 15-year career at Minnesota Public Radio to journey to Healdsburg, California – the heart of California’s acclaimed Russian River, Alexander and Dry Creek Valleys - to pursue this new craft. Unsure of what aspect of the industry he would be best suited to, he used his radio experience to create a wine-focused podcast (the second only in the industry) called Cellar Rat, trading publicity with wineries for knowledge and offering listeners an inside look at all aspects of the wine business. As one of the very first wine podcasters, through interviews and in-depth episode research, Alan was able to dig in and learn in-depth the ropes of the wine business. His quickly amassed knowledge and passion for the industry landed him a position at San Francisco-based custom crush and production facility, CrushPad - where he worked through the business to become a consulting winemaker.
Leveraging his podcast’s growing audience, Alan offered his listeners the opportunity to participate in the winemaking process and the fruits of his labor, in turn assisting him in funding his venture. For a fee, audience members could visit the production facility and take part in Alan’s project. He documented it all on a video podcast - which grew to be called Pinot 2.0 and the group of regular participants became known as “The Rat Pack”. Successfully utilizing his social media following, Alan employed crowd-sourcing to fund his first release (Cellar Rat Cellars) and build his brand long before these terms became commonplace.
Only after meeting Serena Lourie, his now partner in business and life, as her assigned mentor winemaker at CrushPad, was the dream of Cartograph conceived. A socially responsible company built on strong relationships and with a goal of producing truly exceptional and distinctive wines, Cartograph was founded in 2009. Known for their elegant, ultra-premium Pinot Noirs, Alsatian-styled white wines and now sparkling wines (new to 2018) the brand’s core values center on education and the importance of being hands-on, to make truly handcrafted wine.