Posts About Cabernet Sauvignon

Nigel Kinsman, Winemaker Krupp Brothers (Photo by Seymour & McIntosh)

November 24, 2009

Krupp Brothers’ Winemaker Rises to New Heights

2009 marks Nigel Kinsman’s 15th vintage as a winemaker. For a 34 year-old who received his enology degree just six years ago, Kinsman’s logged more hours – with some of the most famous winemakers and wineries – than at first seems possible. He learned technical expertise alongside Peter Leske and got to the heart of organic and biodynamic farming at Cullen Winery.

Upon graduating, Kinsman hopped a plane to Chianti to work the 2003 harvest as a “poor struggling student winemaker.” Four planes and a train ride later, he was welcomed into Tolaini’s Tuscan cellars as the full-time winemaker. Because he didn’t speak a word of Italian, he learned to lead by example. And when Michel Rolland showed up as consulting winemaker, he learned the art of blending alongside the man he considers to possess one of the wine world’s most formidable palates.

No, Kinsman’s trajectory has been anything but traditional. It has, however, been 100% intentional, and it all began on the day he was almost fired from South Australia’s premier wine shop, Baily and Baily. At the time, Kinsman was studying classical music at the University of Adelaide, majoring in solo performance on the double bass.

The gig at Baily and Baily was meant to keep his wallet lightly padded, and he had little expectations of doing more than hauling cases of beer and stocking shelves, two things at which the six-foot two-inch Kinsman excelled. When the store manager told him they were going to have to let him go only six months into the position, the only question Nigel could ask was “How do I change your mind?”

The manager sent him home with three wines, three glasses and told him to turn in a report next shift. For twelve weeks, they repeated the exercise. “Suddenly I was fascinated with these unique regions, with new winemakers, with everything that went into the glass.” Nigel had fallen in love with wine, but he wasn’t initially convinced he could make a career out of it.
When he approached the head of the enology department about two years into his classical music degree, they weren’t convinced either. He had neither the sciences nor the science entry score to get into the department, which at the time was as competitive as the physiotherapy program.

Again, he asked, “What do I have to do to change your mind?” A faculty manager finally conceded that if he entered a straight science field and blitzed the class, he might have a chance. Nigel took a year off from his other classes, enrolled in Chemistry I and scored a 97 in the first year. The department allowed the transfer…”but it took a lot of pushing and shoving.”

When he wasn’t studying, Nigel spent his time at the wine shop honing his sensory skills and tasting every new wine he could get his hands on. “I will always maintain that people in wine retail get to taste a lot more wine than those who make it,” he says, and at his peak at Baily and Baily, Nigel was tasting some 300 wines a week.

After he transitioned into the enology program, Nigel left the wine shop and approached Nepenthe Winery winemaker Peter Leske. He told Leske he didn’t want to start his degree without any experience in the field. Leske brought him on for the 1997 harvest, and Nigel spent the hours of 6 pm to 4 am doing pump-overs and cleaning tanks and his daylight hours in the classroom. Hooked on the buzz of the physical labor, he stayed on at Nepenthe for five more harvests, all while studying. When he finished near top of his class every year, Kinsman credited the work with helping him see and engage in the entire winemaking process.

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Krupp Brothers Winemaker, Nigel Kinsman supervises the final picking at Stagecoach Vineyards the last week of October.

November 2, 2009

Krupp Choreographs Thousand-Acre Wine Grape Harvest, 95 Stagecoach Vineyard Designate Wines Will Benefit

It takes a small village to harvest Stagecoach Vineyard

“If you have ever seen that scene in ‘Apocalypse Now’ where they are trying to establish a beach head camp so that they can surf, that is what harvest is like at Stagecoach Vineyard,” consulting winemaker Aaron Pott says of picking fruit at Krupp Brothers’ legendary Atlas Peak and Pritchard Hill vineyard.

“The vineyard becomes a good size town replete with 50 or so 1970s era vans and an old Ken Kesey-esque school bus - all in various stages of decay – roaming the vineyard roads.”

While Pott jokes that Dr. Jan Krupp, former internist and founder of Stagecoach and Krupp Brothers, should just build a small village at Stagecoach with a company store, it is true that at harvest, the Krupp Brothers team is master of its own 1,000-plus acre domain. Jan moves across the vineyard radio in hand, shouting instructions to vineyard managers Esteban Llamas and viticulturist Jason Cole. The vineyard has its own trucking fleet to haul picks directly to their crush facility, and in any given season, Stagecoach has 120 full-time employees, with an additional 160 contracted on an as needed basis.


From a hawk’s eye view (of which there are several rare breeds on the mountain vineyard), harvest might appear to be chaos. After all, harvest workers are pulling in fruit for not one but 60 different wine producers in the valley. To put it another way, in 2008 there were over 95 wines with a Stagecoach Vineyard designate.

Krupp Brothers Winemaker Nigel Kinsman, however, says harvest may move at a frenzied pace but every step is controlled and choreographed. Up until the point where they deliver fruit to the wineries, Stagecoach Vineyard is self-sufficient. They may pick for more than 60 clients in a six week time period, but they handle all the picking. They schedule clients on a first come, first served basis. Sure, Paul Hobbs checks in frequently, but according to Nigel, even he confidently relinquishes control to the Stagecoach team.

Nigel believes that’s in large part due to Dr. Jan Krupp, the vineyard’s most passionate advocate. “Jan knows every clone and where every clone is planted. How many vineyard owners do you know who could literally know every inch of their 700-acre vineyard?” Nigel says.

Vineyard Manager, Esteban Llamas, worked alongside Jan to plant every single row. Viticulturist, Jason Cole, possesses incredible farming acumen and with both of their expertise come picking time, the vineyard is in prime form. For the past two months, Jason and Nigel have been setting the stage with aggressive crop thinning. Because last year’s crop load was so light, Nigel was ready for the vines’ 2009 balancing act. “We were expecting the vines to respond by producing more fruit, so our guys have worked hard all year to maintain the appropriate levels.”

They’ve also taken pains to thin fruit and position the shoots to ensure clusters are evenly spaced and receiving equal shares of light. Nigel says you have to be an active advocate to grow such premium fruit. By the time harvest rolls around, Nigel is intimate with every single block going into Krupp Brothers’ wines; he sources fruit from every part of the vineyard, he knows every soil subset, and once crush is upon them, Nigel walks the vineyard every single day.


As for the pick dates? Nigel says they’re not here to be raisin farmers. He looks at resolution and tannin profile in order to judge harvest times. Once he sees ripe tannins with moderate sugar levels, the Krupps’ own grapes get top picking priority. Nigel doesn’t see this as a conflict; he feels the crews give the entire vineyard impeccable attention. Every client gets top quality fruit, but this is first come, first served after all. And Jan Krupp was here first.

Enjoy a few photos from this years harvest:
Krupp Brothers winemaking 2009
Krupp Brothers winemaker Nigel Kinsman and consulting winemaker Aaron Pott test out the fermenting wine.
October 2009- Photos by Ashley Teplin

Stagecoach Vineyard Harvest 2009
Krupp Brothers winemaker Nigel Kinsman in the vineyards for the last pick of harvest.
October 2009- Photos by Ashley Teplin

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No tasting room, just the wildly beautiful rusticity of this place is here to welcome you for your visit with concierge Amber Lanier and owner Dr. Jan Krupp at Stagecoach Vineyards.

October 1, 2009

Krupp Brothers & Stagecoach Vineyard
Cut Legendary Path Across the Napa Valley

When Jan and Bart Krupp began the search for a name for their Stagecoach Vineyard label of wine, they sought a moniker that reflected the wild yet elegant structure profile of the Rhone-varietal wines coming from Stagecoach Vineyard’s 560 planted acres on Atlas Peak. That Black Bart also captured the unique history of their frontier mountain vineyard, only served to add another poetic layer to a vineyard and winery property already rich with Napa Valley lore.

The infamous Black Bart of the late 1800s robbed dozens of Wells Fargo stagecoaches crossing over mountain roads, including the stagecoach passes that once stretched across the Krupp Brothers’ present-day Stagecoach Vineyard. Born Charles Boles, the San Francisco businessman became known as a gentleman bandit, a sophisticated gray-haired outlaw with impeccable posture, fine manners, tailored dress and a partiality for leaving poetry at the scene of his crimes.

While the Black Bart label brandishes this inimitable spirit of the sophisticated rogue, Jan and Bart Krupp determined early on that the Black Bart portfolio of wines would cut its own legendary path across the California frontier and the globe. And since the day Jan Krupp purchased his first 41 acres up in the mountain desert known as Atlas Peak, the brothers have overcome some rather fantastic obstacles to become the protagonists in their own almost epic story. The Stagecoach Vineyard and Krupp Brothers tale – of carving a road into a mountain desert, of hiring a water witch to find the water geologists could not, of removing 1 billion tons of SUV-sized boulders before planting could begin – has become as compelling as the wines’ namesake, as visitors to the Krupp brothers’ beautiful 700-plus acre vineyard properties can attest.

From the beginning, Jan Krupp saw beyond the looming hardships to the potential beneath the rock and chaparral. And he saw the stunning beauty of the mountain, of the fragrant purple blossoms of rare native plants, and the views of the Napa Valley floor below and the San Francisco Bay beyond. Rising 900 feet above sea level and climbing to nearly 1,700, Jan quickly realized these eastern hills were ideally suited for rarely planted Rhone grapes like syrah, viognier and marsanne.

In fact, the diverse meso-climates and soil conditions found at Stagecoach Vineyard are distinctively suited for over 13 different grape varieties. Currently, the Black Bart portfolio consists of the Black Bart Syrah, which is co-fermented with a touch of Viognier to add floral aromas and silky texture; Black Bart Marsanne; and Black Bart’s Bride, a blend of marsanne, viognier and chardonnay named after the bandit’s mysterious amour. In select years, winemaker Nigel Kinsman also makes a Black Bart Syrah Rose and Syrah Port.

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Stagecoach Vineyard, a desert mountain vineyard with potential buried beneath boulders and chaparral.

September 9, 2009

From Desert Mountainscape to Iconic Vineyard

Krupp Brothers Transform a Desert Mountainscape into a Napa Valley Vineyard Icon

When Dr. Jan Krupp purchased a 41-acre property high in the eastern hills of Napa Valley, he had no idea how many odds were stacked against him. A Bay Area internist with a green thumb and a hunger for the joy he once felt working his uncle’s Virginia farm, Krupp ignored the warning signs “presenting” on his barren acreage and paid attention instead to the property’s unplumbed potential.

Stagecoachtourboulders.jpg It was 1991, six years before the breakout vintage of Napa Valley Cabernet on Atlas Peak and Pritchard Hill’s eastern mountain slopes – the year that launched Maya and David Arthur into the cult wine world.  Jan had a desert mountain landscape on Atlas Peak and Pritchard Hill with no power, no known water sources and no legal right of access, yet all he could see was the potential buried beneath boulders and chaparral.  It was more than just a feeling; Krupp had been immersed in garage winemaking long enough to know the shallow red volcanic soils of these south-facing slopes rising into and over the fogline were ideal for growing intense berries rich with mineral and mountain flavors.

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From Desert Mountainscape to Iconic Vineyard


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May 22, 2009

Wine God at Stagecoach Tasting

How I Tasted 95 "2008" Wines From Stagecoach Vineyard and Lived To Tell The Tale
by Roy Piper,

I remember back before I moved to Napa, on one of my excursions here, I found my way up to Stagecoach Vineyard above Oakville East. I had read all about the development of the property in the excellent book “The Winemaker’s Dance” and wanted to see the place for myself. I remember thinking when I got there that there is no way one would ever really get a handle on the massive estate and that it would be near impossible to figure out if there was any thread of “somewhere-ness” or terroir that one could sense on such an unwieldy property.

Little did I know that owner Jan Krupp has been holding annual winemaker tastings for eight years, where most of the winemakers who source fruit every year get together at Coles Chop House in Napa to pour their wines and compare notes. I was fortunate to be invited to this years gathering, held over two consecutive Thursdays. The first was all non-Cabernet varietals and the second Thursday was an all-Cab affair.

In total, I tried 95 wines from the 2008 vintage from probably close to 20 producers, each with their own winemaking style, goals and methods. After each flight of 5-8 wines, each winemaker would comment on what they thought, how they made the wine, thoughts about their block and then field questions. It was a fascinating experience, both hedonistically and intellectually.

The property itself is East and slightly South of Prichard Hill and Oakville East. It shares similar soils overall with those regions but is slightly cooler. This is a generalization though, as in listening to the various winemakers present, soil and orientation can vary one block to the next and have enormous impact. A few spots can get really hot and others are more like Atlas Peak in their coolness. This kind of mystery is one any Pinot lover or vineyard geek would enjoy, as figuring out the best little pockets to plant and how vineyards blocks can vary one step fall to the next is part of the fun. There are over 500 acres planted on the 1200-acre property and they are not done! Using Google Earth I calculated the planted area to be two miles in length by .85 miles in width. This is almost the distance from Mustards in Yountville to Mondavi winery in length and from Mondavi to the Mayacamas Mountains in width. All this between 900-1700 foot altitudes on extremely rocky soil. A sight to behold. Although Cabernet is the mainstay, the vineyard also has all the other Bordeaux varietals as well as Viognier, Marsanne, Syrah, Petite and Zin.

There is no way I could reprint all 95 tasting notes, but here are my favorites, categorized by producer. Each producer gets their own block or blocks and makes their own call on picking time.

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Ron Wornick, pictured here with winemaker Aaron Pott, travels to NY this week for Wine Spectator's California Wine Experience.

October 14, 2008

Wornick’s Seven Stones Named Rising Star

Ron and Anita Wornick, of St. Helena and San Francisco, traveled to New York today for the California Wine Experience where their inaugural release from Seven Stones Winery, a 2005 cabernet sauvignon, is being featured by Wine Spectator editors James Laube and Harvey Steiman, on a program entitled, “Rising Stars.”  

Seven Stones was chosen among just five California wineries deemed by Laube and Steiman to be among the hottest properties on the West Coast.  Seven Stones 2005 Cabernet Sauvignon was awarded 94 points by James Laube.  The entire 2005 production was sold to the mailing list in just under five hours on release day late this summer.

Rising Stars Tasting. A tasting from some of the hottest new wineries on the West Coast—five from California, three from Washington and two from Oregon. Onstage, James Laube, senior editor, Wine Spectator and Harvey Steiman, editor at large, Wine Spectator, lead the tasting with the winemakers and/or owners. The wines are:

    * Linne Calodo Problem Child Paso Robles 2006 (95 points)
    * Londer Pinot Noir Anderson Valley Londer Estate Grown 2005 (92 points)
    * Relic Syrah Mendocino County Alder Springs Vineyard 2006 (NYR)
    * Saxum Paso Robles Booker Vineyard2005 (95 points)
    * Seven Stones Cabernet Sauvignon Napa Valley 2005 (94 points)
    * Côte Bonneville DuBrul Vineyard Yakima Valley 2005 (NYR)
    * Gorman Syrah-Cabernet Sauvignon The Evil Twin 2005 (95 points)
    * ZanZibar Sandra Horse Heaven Hills 2005 (93 points)
    * Penner-Ash Pinot Noir Willamette Valley Shea Vineyard 2006 (93 points
    * Roco Pinot Noir Chehalem Mountains Private Stash 2006 (94 points)

Link to the Seven Stones winery information summary.

Link to Ron Wornick's biography.
Link to Aaron Pott's biography.


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September 22, 2008

Serial Entrepreneur Launches Napa Wine


Barry Schuler has worn his reputation for pioneering new territory from his alma mater, Rutgers, to Silicon Valley. So, last week when he proudly announced the inaugural release of his 2005 Meteor Vineyard Estate and Special Family Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon, no one was surprised to learn that his 22-acre vineyard was located in the lesser known southeastern hills of Napa County.

Planted in 1998, Meteor's highly sought after fruit has sold to a handful of high-profile properties including: Arietta, Etude, Lail, Favia and Vineyard 29. Rocky soils, Meteor's undulating topography and the cooling influences of nearby San Pablo Bay give Meteor fruit slow, even ripening in the most challenging of years.

Meteor's first offering is being sold principally through the mailing list with a small allocation reserved for restaurants frequented by the globe-trotting Barry and Tracy Strong Schuler. To purchase 2005 Meteor Vineyard Estate Cabernet Sauvignon or the 2005 Meteor Vineyard Special Family Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon, call 707-258-2900 or email

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We think our wine is all about terroir, manifesting the tremendous complexity of this appellation. Internationally acclaimed photographer Lewis deSoto shares these images of our Stags Leap Ranch from his appellation series to be unveiled sometime next year.

September 9, 2008

Indian Summer BBQ

September announced itself with 100-degree temperatures here in Napa Valley's Stags Leap district. We'll finish off the month with plenty of Indian Summer barbecues tossing quail, garden vegetables and, our personal favorite, lamb, on the grill.

Lamb and Petite Syrah contitute one of those peerless food and wine pairings. We hope you'll stock up on Quixote Petite Syrah and the best lamb you can find to fortify both cellar and larder for these last days of outdoor entertaining before welcoming the crisp days of autumn.

Here's are a few links to create your own Indian Summer BBQ:

Sonoma Direct - Grass-fed, family farmed and sustainably raised lamb.

Quixote Petite Syrah - Organically-farmed Stags’ Leap Ranch estate petite syrah.

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Vintners John Conover of Cade and Plumpjack and Carl Doumani of Quixote joined in a little friendly wine combat this week pitting Cabernet Sauvignon against Petite Syrah as the top pairing for grilled lamb.  KCBS Radio’s Narsai David armed himself and donned full Western regalia for the wine country picnic including a badge that mysteriously read, “Merlot.” (Photos by Drew Altizer)

June 18, 2008

Cab vs. Petite: A Different Sort of Rivalry

By Hank Shaw

A sunny day, good wine, good food and lots of good conversation. I’ve been here before. For the better part of two decades my life has revolved around the world of politics, and the setting at the Plumpjack winery Monday looked like any number of high-dollar political fundraisers I’d attended over the years. But looks can be deceiving.

For starters, the mere presence of the grilled leg of lamb and rapini greens served at lunch set this event apart: Both were better prepared than what you’d get at a typical buck-raking event. And the rapini greens? They would never be served at a Republican event (too foreign), and rapini’s bitter tang typically banishes them from Democratic menus as well. On the tables of politics, nothing should be too challenging: Political food is cheap, merely fuel for the conversation.

Good wine, however, does grace the tables of the political elite; just ask former Assembly Speaker Fabian Nunez, who got himself in trouble recently for buying too much expensive French wine. He’d have done better to spend his money on the Plumpjack cabernet sauvignon or the Quixote petite syrah, both superb wines served with the lamb.

Monday’s luncheon pitted the Quixote petite syrah against a pair of cabernets: the Plumpjack and its sister winery, CADE. Which paired better with the lamb? There were even cards for the guests to cast their vote. (No hanging chads here, though) I knew I’ve been in politics too long when I started thinking that with two evenly matched cabernets duking it out on one side, and a lone petite syrah on the other, there was a whiff of this year’s presidential race in the day’s contest. Is Obama a cab?

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Historic stone walls frame Meteor Vineyard in Napa's Tulocay region. (Photo by John McJunkin)

February 18, 2008

Acclaimed Internet Pioneer Barry Schuler
Launches New Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvginon

February 2008, NAPA, CA.—Former America Online Chairman and CEO Barry Schuler announced this week that he will release a new Napa Valley cabernet sauvignon under the label Meteor Vineyard this Spring.  Trade and press will taste 2006 Meteor Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon from barrel for the first time this week at Premier Napa Valley.  The winemakers for Meteor Vineyard are Dawnine Sample Dyer and her husband Bill Dyer, who are 50 percent partners in this venture.

Schuler likens his first-ever Napa Valley wine country experience decades ago to a lightening bolt shooting through his body.  He says he knew then that one day he would grow grapes here.  In 1998, after pioneering a succession of new technologies in the Internet world, Schuler and his family established the 22-acre Meteor Vineyard property in the southeastern hills of the Napa Valley where the Tulocay AVA is currently pending.  The property is named for Medior Inc, the multimedia development company founded by Schuler and eventually acquired by AOL.

Schuler is best known for leading the AOL team that simplified the online service provider’s user interface, making it possible for millions of consumers to gain easy access to the internet.  In recent years, while developing his new Napa vineyard, Schuler started Raydiance Inc. to develop commercial applications for ultra-short pulse lasers to be used for tumor ablation and tattoo removal, among other things. In collaboration with Adam Rifkin and Brad Wyman, he also co-produced and helped finance, “Look,” a film shot entirely from the point of view of surveillance cameras.

Michael Wolf was retained by the Schulers to develop their vineyard property, which benefits from San Francisco Bay breezes and is characterized by a mix of well-draining river rock and mineral-rich volcanic ash suited to Bordeaux varietals, including cabernet sauvignon.

Meteor Vineyard is a compilation of three clones of cabernet sauvignon grafted onto different rootstocks.  Just 25 percent of the vineyard’s fruit is used to craft the Meteor Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon.  The balance of the property’s grapes are sold to a handful of high-profile properties including: Arietta, Etude, Lail, Favia and Vineyard 29. 

The 2005 Meteor Cabernet Sauvignon will be sold primarily to those on the Meteor Vineyard mailing list, with a small allocation going to distribution channels later in the year. ####


Click here for the Meteor Vineyard fact sheet.

Click here for the Meteor Vineyard technical sheets.

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Kosher cookbook author Judy Zeidler and restaurateur husband Marvin prepared a feast of short ribs for L'Chaim auction high bidders Monty and Sara Preiser Sunday at Quixote Winery.

February 13, 2008

Famed Kosher Cookbook Author Judy Zeidler Prepares a Feast for L'Chaim, Celebration of Life

Quixote Winery hosted a Celebration of Life lunch this past weekend with winery owners Carl Doumani and Pam Hunter joining Kosher cookbook author Judy Zeidler and her restaurateur husband Marvin in the kitchen.  The lunch was an auction lot purchased by Monty and Sara Preiser of Florida and the Napa Valley at the 2007 L’Chaim benefit. 

L’Chaim Napa Valley was created to ensure the continuation of L’Chaim Napa Valley’s Annual Jewish Vintners’ Celebration.  This 3-day charitable event, now in it’s third year, showcases the contributions of Jewish Vintners in the Napa Valley, realizes support for charitable organizations in the Napa Valley, and brings members of the Jewish community from all over the world together in a broad-based philanthropic effort.  This year the Jewish Vintners Celebration will be held the weekend of June 20-22, 2008.

Zeidler is the author of The Gourmet Jewish Cookbook, The 30-minute Kosher Cook, Judy Zeidler’s International Deli Cookbook, Master Chefs Cook Kosher and host of the Jewish Life television show, Judy’s Kitchen.  This year she expects to release a new work based on 30 years of culinary research in Italy.  Sunday’s lunch combined recipes she has collected and refined over many years in her popular Brentwood cooking school.

She began with her famously moist gourgeres and an onion-anchovy pizza while guests sipped Doumani’s 2004 Panza Grenache-Mourvedre. Husband Marvin stepped up for the first course of a puree of pea and bean soup topped with a parmesan zabaglione.  Judy accompanied this course with homemade oven-baked potato chips she learned to make from Nadia Santini at Dal Pescatore in Italy.  Next came a risotto drizzled with Quixote’s petite syrah and the big event of the day, Judy’s justifiably famous short rib and vegetable casserole perfectly paired with the 2001 Quixote Petite Syrah.

Sighs were heard all around when dessert appeared, a walnut torte en croute that is sinfully rich. Doumani accompanied this with his 2001 Quixote Cabernet Sauvignon at the urging of the Zeidlers.  

Guests for the day included David and Emily Miner of Miner Vineyards and James Hall and Ann Moses of Patz and Hall.  The volunteer crew was comprised of Christy and Peter Palmisano and Jerry and Amy Giaquinta.

To view the photos from the event please go to our flickr page :

Click here for Judy's recipes from the luncheon.

Click here to view The Presier Key.

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Photo by Elise Bauer, Simply Recipes

November 28, 2007

Holidays and Magnums

Another year has passed, another harvest. One more vintage is in the barrel. So, now we celebrate. It’s the holiday season again and at Quixote that means it’s time to offer you something special to complete the seasonal picture – our large format bottles.

The truth is we bottle very little of our wine in large formats. That’s why you don’t see the big bottles listed on our website order page or offered at winery visits. But when the holiday season arrives, when the air is crisp and the vines are golden, we are inspired to open our library and share the wealth.

What does this mean to you?

It means you have one final shot at special wines like the 2001 Quixote Petite Syrah, a dynamic vintage only now beginning to reveal its true character, even though it is still a young 6 years old. We have five cases, or 30 of the 2001 magnums available for purchase.

We have some 2002s and some 2003s, both the Panza blended versions and the Quixote 100-percent varietal versions. And for those of you who only discovered us since our grand opening in February we have a couple cases of magnums from our initial two vintages, the 1999 petite syrah and the 2000 petite syrah and cabernet sauvignon.

They are available now first come, first served.

We also have a limited supply of our popular Grenache-Mourvedre blend in the 750 ml format, an excellent pairing partner with that requisite turkey.

Although these wines are all still young, they should behave well in the company of that cassoulet or those braised ribs. Think about it.

Click here to purchase Quixote magnums.

Happy holidays.

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May 21, 2007

Price is right for Quixote Winery

Revel Rouser:Lew Price
© Peter Menzel

May 21, 2007, Stags’ Leap District, Napa Valley, Ca.—In February when Quixote Winery opened for visits by appointment, Lew Price signed on as general manager and “revel rouser”.  The winery is housed in a whimsical building designed by the iconoclastic Viennese artist-environmentalist Friedensreich Hundertwasser and became an instant magnet for art and architecture enthusiasts.

Price’s winery tour proves nearly as colorful as the tiled structure itself.  He leads off with an insider’s look at the story behind the only building designed by Hundertwasser in the United States then aims the spotlight on the winery’s first love, the cultish Petite Syrah.  This is the varietal that earned accolades for the Stags’ Leap Ranch vineyard as early as 1972 when vintner Carl Doumani released one of his first renditions at Stags’ Leap Winery.

Today, Quixote Winery guests gather around a dining room table for a leisurely tasting of Petite Syrah and Cabernet Sauvignon, a few well-chosen cheeses and crusty bread.

During the past three months Price has hosted luminaries like racecar driving star Danica Patrick, Warner Brothers president Garth Ancier, and rap artist mogul Brian Turner along with Hundertwasser followers and wine collectors.

Price resides in St. Helena with his wife Lora, human resources director for Duckhorn Winery, and stepdaughter Ciandra.  He has worked on the hospitality staffs of Whitehall Lane Winery and Joseph Phelps Winery.

After five years as an editor in the New York Times Regional Newspaper Group with stops in North and South Carolina, Price spent six years covering the Los Angeles Dodgers for the Riverside Press Enterprise in Southern California.

He left the Press-Enterprise in 1996 to serve as publications director for the Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association in Colorado Springs, returning to the P-E as its golf writer in ’98.  Price, 46, was twice honored by the Southern California PGA as golf writer of the year and had the privilege of chronicling the maturation on Tiger Woods from his first appearance in a PGA Tour event at age 16 to his historic run through golf’s majors in 2000.

Editor’s Note: Images may be downloaded from:  For additional information contact Pam Hunter- 707-258-1699 x 15 or

[Posted: 5/21/2007]

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April 13, 2007

A Quixotic Discovery

Napa Sonoma Magazine

Spring-Summer 2007

Click to Print Article

Editor’s Note: For additional information contact Pam Hunter- 707-258-1699 x 15 or

[Posted: 4/12/2007]

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Fun a Priority at Doumani's whimsical winery

By David Stoneberg

Thursday, March 29, 2007

The winery is exceedingly idealistic and impractical, which is its definition and its name. Carl Doumani’s Quixote Winery in the Stag’s Leap District, a mile from Silverado Trail, is an unusual building. Although it contains places for the usual winery paraphernalia, its charm is its design and subsequent execution by the late Friedensreich Hundertwasser. On a recent spring morning a tour group of 10, many from the East Coast, toured the only Hundertwasser building in the United States. Marjorie Morgan and Whitney Robbins traveled from Bolton, Mass. to see the building after becoming Hundertwasser fans four or five years ago after stumbling onto the public housing project he had designed in Vienna. Robbins teaches her seventh-graders about the Vienna native. She asked her students to research Hundertwasser on the Internet and then write a poem about the passionate aesthetic who turned the world’s architects on their ears. “One girl wrote that he was a very free spirit,” Robbins said, after learning that the passionate Hundertwasser would call a news conference and deliver his address in the nude, to gain more coverage for his ideas. “The students got the aesthetic,” Robbins said.

‘A philosopher and ecologist’
"It is great to be surrounded by an aesthetic that is so complete. I’ve always taught that he is more than an architect, more than an artist, that he is a philosopher and an ecologist, which are different aspects of his personality. I was looking at the irregular shapes and by visiting here we get to live his philosophy and to benefit from it. It’s the best possible scenario and the legacy that he’s left us,” she said. Irregular shapes, brightly-colored mosaics and columns, gently undulating floors and walkways, curving rooflines and golden turrets characterize Hundertwasser’s style. Beyond that, he hated straight lines and loved to bring nature into his buildings, literally. Like the other buildings he designed, Quixote Winery has a natural roof, covered with 30 inches of soil. On it grow grasses, wildflowers, bushes and trees. On Saturday, Feb. 10, the New York Times published Chris Colin’s article on the winery, which officially opened to the public the following day. When the two-person staff (Lew Price, general manager and Liz Ross, executive assistant) arrived at the winery on Monday morning, they were deluged with 269 e-mails. The hundreds of phone calls and e-mails since have slowed to a trickle. “It was an amazing launch and it put us on the map,” Price said.

Planted trees in rooms
Price also talked about the designer’s Vienna public housing project, Hundertwasserhaus. “In Vienna, he made the owners give him empty rooms dotted throughout the building. He filled the rooms with dirt and planted trees, so their branches would grow out the building. He called them his tree tenants. He wanted to bring nature to the bleak environment of the inner city.” Quixote Winery began when Doumani bought 400 acres in 1970 and founded Stag’s Leap Winery. After building the business into an iconic wine brand, Doumani woke up one day and discovered he was managing people, which is not what he wanted to do. Instead, he wanted to start over again, with a small winery. He wanted to have a hand in everything and bring a sense of fun and whimsy back to the wine business, which he felt was taking itself too seriously. Price said Doumani began searching for an architect to build his winery and while he was in the office of a San Francisco architect, he spotted a calendar with a photo of Hundertwasser’s Vienna project. One thing led to another and in 1989, Doumani flew to Vienna to meet the artist. It turned out to be a perfect marriage and ground was broken in 1991.

Sidewalk too straight
Doumani and Hundertwasser worked together for seven years and created the winery, although not without some struggles. Price said workers had laid down the walkway, with its four or five different surfaces and Hundertwasser came to examine it. “We had to rip up the sidewalk because it was too straight and flat,” he said. Today, Doumani said the winery is a great place to come to work. “It’s light, airy and I get to watch people walking up the walkway. Usually by the time they get here they’re smiling, so we’ve accomplished our purpose. We made it a place that’s pleasant to come to, it uplifts your senses and we have fun. That’s what we set out to do.” With winemaker Mario Monticelli and vineyard manager Michael Wolf, Quixote Winery produces 2,000 cases of Petite Sirah and Cabernet Sauvignon, with smaller amounts of Grenache-Mourvedre, Claret and Syrah. The first vintage was in 1999. Doumani said work in the vineyard is ongoing, because “we’re always fine tuning what we’ve got. Really, it takes a long time to zero in on where we’re going to end up. With problems in different blocks, sometimes you can fix it; sometimes you can go with another variety or another clone to fix the problem. That’s what’s exciting to me.” For the future, Doumani said he and his staff have to keep improving on what they’re doing, get more consistency within the vintages and work on growing practices to produce the grapes and the wines that he wants. Is the wine good enough? “I drink a hell of a lot of it, it better be good,” he said with a laugh.

Editor’s Note: For additional information contact Pam Hunter- 707-258-1699 x 15 or

[Posted: 4/12/2007]

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March 28, 2007

Napa Valley Register Articles - QUIXOTE WINERY

Quixote Winery tilts at glory with Hundertwasser design
By Louisa Hufstader

Napa Valley Register - March 23, 2007

Tucked amid the hills of Napa’s Stags Leap District, a small winery that broke ground more than a decade ago is drawing international attention — and many visitors to Carl Doumani’s Quixote winery are as interested in the place itself as in winemaker Mario Monticelli’s elegantly powerful petite syrahs and cabernets.

Small wonder: Quixote’s wines are outstanding, but the building is like no otherwinery in the world.

The only structure in America designed by the eccentric and whimsical Viennese artist Friedensreich Hundertwasser (1928-2000), it’s all bright colors and undulating lines, appearing to blossom from the base of the Stags Leap palisades.

Hundertwasser aficionados will find all the hallmarks of his exuberantly organic style at Quixote: No two windows are the same and straight lines are nowhere to be found. Bright, natural light is everywhere. Olive trees grow on the roof; blue tiling trickles in rivulets down the outside walls.

From his desk beneath a golden onion dome, Doumani can enjoy his visitors’ wonderstruck expressions as they walk up the path toward his door.

“By the time they hit here, they’re smiling, and that’s what we want,” Doumani said. “If they walk in here and they’re happy, they’re going to like our wines more.”

It’s hard to imagine a grumpy mood in Quixote’s light-filled tasting room, an uneven ellipse that’s half windows, its floor tiled with end-cuts of walnut and oak.

One curving wall displays what Doumani calls his “rogue’s gallery” of photographic portraits: family members, a young Sidney Greenstreet, Buster Keaton with an elephant, “the only known picture of Picasso being nice to a woman” and other curiosities.

A patio garden and wall mosaic beckon visitors outside, where Hundertwasser used blue tiles to “drip” from the roofline in a nod to Quixote’s nearby reservoir.

The tiles, like many of Hundertwasser’s materials, are often cracked or broken and always irregularly shaped.

“His philosophy is: Straight lines are anathema,” Doumani said. “No two windows are alike, no two doors are alike — that would be boring.”

That concept took some explaining to the craftsmen charged with realizing Hundertwasser’s design: They had to be convinced that tile should be laid haphazardly and that plaster should not be smooth.

In turn, the workers were invited to make their own suggestions as the winery took shape. On visits to the site — which was under construction for much of the 1990s — Hundertwasser consulted with the masons and builders and often incorporated their suggestions into his design. One example: A boulder seat in the shape of a giant mushroom.

“That was part of his genius, bringing the people working on the building into the process, asking their advice,” Doumani said. “Lots of times he took their advice.”

Hundertwasser also took a saw to the parapet to make sure the roofline was suitably uneven, and — to make a point — a hammer to an already-installed ceramic column that had been made to order in Germany.

“He said, ‘They won’t know that you use things that are broken unless they see it,’” Doumani recalled. “You never throw anything away. That would be wasteful.”

Trees on the roof

Unlike wine country palaces that seem designed to call attention to themselves, Quixote nestles into its surroundings with surprising subtlety. The sharp-eyed passing on Silverado Trail can catch a glimpse of the onion dome — which reflects the light in different colors depending on the time of day — but Doumani has taken pains to veil his Hundertwasser as the designer himself intended, with mature olive trees screening the colorful building and even growing on the roof.

“You leave the building so it looks much as it did before from the air,” Doumani explained: hence the roof garden, with more than two feet of soil, which is now being replanted after the repair of leaks that had plagued the first installation.

Up close, the building reveals itself against its backing palisades like an invitingly pleasant hallucination.

“We were looking for something that was fun and colorful and witty,” said Doumani, who stumbled across Hundertwasser’s work in a calendar.

“I think that wine and the drinking of wine and eating is a social thing, and it’s fun, and I think that the building that it’s made in and where we work making it should be fun.”

Doumani, who founded Stags’ Leap Winery before starting Quixote in the late 1980s, made contact with the artist through Smithsonian curator Harry Rand “who, fortunately, likes Stags’ Leap wine,” and furnished a letter of introduction.

The winemaker and the designer — each known as a bit of an iconoclast in his field — began a years-long collaboration on the Quixote project, the final cost of which Doumani says today he doesn’t know.

“We didn’t keep track, otherwise we might not have done it,” he said.

At Quixote, Hundertwasser’s art isn’t limited to the building and its surfaces; there are also prints on the wall and a Rosenthal ceramic dish on the tasting-room table.

Hundertwasser even designed the label for Doumani’s flagship Quixote petite syrah, a festival of colors — some reflective — that seem to twinkle in the light. Take this bottle to a restaurant, and all eyes will be on your table — such is the appeal of even the smallest work by Hundertwasser, whose adopted name means “liberty kingdom hundred waters,” and who believed in the power of the golden dome.

“It’s very important to him,” said Doumani, who often speaks of the late designer in the present tense. “He just says it makes things better.

“Your life will change and good things will happen when you work under the gold-leaf onion dome.”

Quixote offers tours and sit-down tastings for $25 a person by appointment only; the winery can accommodate up to eight visitors three times a day, “and fun is had by all,” said General Manager Lew Price, dubbed “the Revel Rouser” by Doumani.

Call 944-2659 or e-mail to make an appointment


On the Lees: Appealing with Quixote from Stags Leap
By L. Pierce Carson
Napa Valley Register - March 23, 2007

Whether or not you feel Carl Doumani possesses the traits of the fictional hero for which his winery is named depends on how well you know him.

As designed by the witty Viennese artist, architect, philosopher and environmentalist Friedensreich Hundertwasser, Doumani’s Quixote Winery does indeed capture the spirit of Miguel de Cervantes’ celebrated character.

But the wines crafted by Doumani and winemaker Mario Monticelli are anything but quixotic, as they’re sound, sure-footed, practical expressions of the Stags Leap winegrowing district, a region of the Napa Valley renowned for its silky cabernets.

If Doumani did tilt at windmills, he did it a long time ago. After all, who but a brash visionary like Doumani would have planted petite sirah (he prefers the syrah spelling) in an area not yet proven for hearty, late-ripening reds. But with neighbors like Nathan Fay and Warren Winiarski doing so well with Bordeaux varietals, Doumani was inspired to focus on his favorite wine, petite sirah. As others in the valley pulled out old petite sirah vines, Doumani planted anew.

That was more than three decades ago, when Doumani was chief cook and bottlewasher at his Stags’ Leap Winery. When he sold that winemaking operation to Beringer more than a decade ago, he decided to scale back and work on a wine project focusing on small lots of — what else — petite sirah,
as well as cabernet sauvignon.

Doumani was a fan of Hundertwasser’s works. But getting this reclusive artist to design his winery was easier said that done. He eventually made contact through a mutual acquaintance, only to learn that the Austrian architect was a fan of Stags Leap District wines. Still it took Doumani a decade to realize his dream.

Not only did he wind up with a Hundertwasser-designed winery (the only Hundertwasser project in the United States, by the way), Doumani convinced the Austrian to do his Quixote label.

Now, several years into the project, Doumani is producing two wines each for two labels, Quixote and, appropriately, Panza, from 27 acres of organically farmed estate vines. As he doesn’t use all of the fruit for his Quixote and Panza labels, some of the wines are bulked out.

Shortly, he will reach his planned production goal of 70 percent petite sirah and 30 percent cabernet sauvignon, with total production between 4,000 and 4,500 cases.

Doumani tends to bottle age his wines more than most. Current releases are 2001 for cabernet and 2003 for petite sirah.

Since 2001, all of Doumani’s wines are finished with screw caps. “I think it’s the best closure we have to date,” he says of his decision to forsake cork.

Panza 2001 Cabernet Sauvignon ($40): The Panza wines are the easy-to-drink-upon-release offerings from this small operation tucked in the shadow of the Stags Leap palisades. A lush, silky expression of this varietal with very little oak in nose or palate, it has wonderful red cherries and plums on the extended finish. An elegant wine at a very good price. But don’t tell Carl.

Quixote 2001 Cabernet Sauvignon ($60): A bit more structure and finesse for this cab from a great vintage for Stags Leap and other Napa Valley reds. Blackberries and plums are evident on the nose of this soft, supple cabernet, with blackberries and currants lingering on the slightly sweet finish. A wine to drink today, but one that should be even better with a few more years in your cellar.

Panza 2003 Petite Syrah ($40): A well-balanced, ruby-colored elixir with an intoxicatingly spicy nose, this one’s a bit riper than its counterpart. Maybe that’s because of the fact that it’s blended with some syrah, mourvedre and grenache. A toasty nose and a mouthful of berries are its hallmark. Definitely a food wine, it’s ideal for spicy Italian dishes, your favorite barbecue or marinated game.

Quixote 2003 Petite Syrah ($60): A meaty, juicy, slightly smoky wine packed with black fruit, this is a single varietal wine that I found to be an ideal pairing for roasted wild duck breast. It has layers and layers of flavor, notably blackberries, and has an appealing long finish of blueberry and dark chocolate. Only 300 cases were produced, so a word to the wise — get some.

Locally, you can find Panza and Quixote wines at V Wine Cellar in Yountville’s Vintage 1870 and at Dean and DeLuca in St. Helena. The wines are on lists at Mustard’s Grill, Zuzu, Angele and Terra.

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March 3, 2006

Napa Valley's grande dame Schramsberg's Jamie Davies

In 1805, Francois Clicquot died of a fever, leaving his 27-year-old wife, Barbe Nicole Ponsardin, to run his family's Champagne business.

The widow (veuve in French) knew little about wine production, yet seized the moment, inventing the riddling table that is still used today, and building a company so successful that one of France's finest Champagnes, Veuve Clicquot Ponsardin's La Grande Dame, is named for her.

Two hundred years after the widow joined the male-dominated French winemaking world, America's own sparkling "grande dame," Jamie Davies, celebrates her 40th winemaking anniversary.

In 1965, Davies and her husband, Jack, purchased a ramshackle Victorian house, a winery and vineyards established in 1862 by German immigrant Jacob Schram in Calistoga, turning it into Schramsberg Vineyards, producer of arguably the finest sparkling wines in the United States.

"The property just popped out to us, and we said, 'This rundown old lady needs lots of attention,' " says Davies, 71, a petite, soft-spoken woman whose stature belies her internal strength and sharp mind. "We didn't have a wine style then, but we knew we didn't want to be, 'Me, too' winemakers. Some of our neighbors were not improving quality, and they felt their wines were good enough as is. We decided to do something that no one else was doing."

That something was sparkling wine, made with the same labor-intensive methods used in Champagne, called methode champenoise, where still wine made from Chardonnay, Pinot Noir and sometimes Pinot Meunier grapes undergoes a secondary fermentation in the bottle, creating the bubbles. The bottles are stored for several years, allowing the post-fermentation yeast cells to remain in contact with the wine, giving it a biscuity character and complexity.

Continue reading "Napa Valley's grande dame Schramsberg's Jamie Davies"

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January 5, 2006

Panza and Quixote Reviews - Fredric Koeppel

Quixote Winery
Panza Cabernet Sauvignon 2001
100 % cabernet sauvignon
Stags' Leap Ranch, Napa Valley, California
About $40
Very good+

Carl Doumani, one of Napa Valley's great characters, sold his Stags' Leap Winery to Beringer Blass in 1997. (This is now Beringer Wines Estates, owned by the mega-huge Foster's Group.) From the seed of the 30 acres of vines he retained, Doumani and his family launched Quixote, a fitting name for a producer who has always been an individual, not to say quixotic. Quixote makes only petite sirah (labeled petite syrah) and cabernet sauvignon wines at two levels, Panza and Quixote; all the wines are bottled with screw-caps for easy opening. These wines from 2001 are current releases.

Panza is a fitting companion for Don Quixote. The whole vocabulary of dimension suits this wine: Depth, breadth, width, length. Cassis, leather and violets, bittersweet chocolate surge from the glass in an intense and concentrated package of daunting size that leads to a deep, firm, austere finish. From mid-palate back it registers as reluctant, if not truculent; perhaps it will gain more personality with some age, say from 2007 to 2010.

Quixote Winery
Quixote Cabernet Sauvignon 2001
100% cabernet sauvignon
Stags' Leap Ranch, Napa Valley, California
About $60

Here's a monument to the old-fashioned Napa Valley cabernet. Quixote's 2001, from a terrific year for cabernet in California, smells, tastes and feels fathomless; each element, whether oak, fruit, acid, tannin, completely permeates the others so you perceive them simultaneously. Size, structure, foundation, all the architectural factors, dominate at first, slowly unveiling, like a nightlight in a dark room, a very intense core of crushed violets and lavender, licorice and minerals that yields in turn to ripe and fleshy cassis, black raspberry and cherry flavors. Give this from 2007 to 2012. A Great Achievement.

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