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Bocanova's Sweet Potato & Chipotle Gratin from Executive Chef Rick Hackett.

November 18, 2009

Bocanova's Bounty

The celebration of Thanksgiving with roasted turkey, mashed potatoes and pumpkin pie is uniquely American. However, the tradition of giving thanks and celebrating the bounty of harvest spans all cultures. In countries and cities around the globe, groups gather together in the form of festivals, family gatherings and celebrations to toast the fruits of their labors.

This week, Bocanova’s Pan American kitchen offered a dozen happy guests a delicious glimpse of winter holiday bounty specials. Featuring produce from All Star Organics, a few Bocanova harvest highlights were the Braised Shortribs with Argentine primitive pumpkin, Chicory Salad with pomegranate & cocoa nib vinaigrette, Sweet Potato & Chipotle Gratin and an organic Dickenson Pumpkin Pound Cake with Eggnog Ice Cream & Pecan Macaroons.  


Executive Pastry Chef Paul Conte’s Pumpkin Poundcake stole the evening limelight. Perfect for baking, the Dickenson pumpkin made for a powdered sugar-dusted cake that was all sweetness and light – more ounce than pound. Partnered with a carrot reduction sauce and an egg nog ice cream that carried pleasantly little weight, it was the perfect conclusion to an evening rich with fresh, new flavor combinations and equally fresh new friendships.

Click here to view the Flickr Link of all the Harvest Images:

Sweet Potato & Chipotle Gratin Recipe
Bocanova Restaurant                                                                                        
Executive Chef, Rick Hackett                                                      

Amount:                         Ingredients:                                           Prep Notes:
5 ea                                Sweet Potatoes                                        Slice 1/8"
1 ½ Cups                         Heavy Cream
2 T                                  Garlic                                                      Minced
2 T                                  Chipotle Peppers in Adobe Sauce              Puree
To taste                           Salt                                                         Salt      

1.) Preheat oven to 350 F
2.) Combine cream, garlic, chipotle and salt.  The mixture should be slightly on the salty side as the potatoes have not been seasoned.
3.) Peel and thinly slice potatoes (1/8 Inch) and add directly to cream mixture.
4.) Layer potatoes into a gratin dish and pour cream mixture over.  The cream should come slightly over the top of the potatoes
5.) Place gratin in a water bath. The water should come half way up the side of the gratin dish.  This will prevent burning on the bottom.
6.) Bake at 350 F for about an hour.  The potatoes should be tender and the top golden brown.
7.) Rest for 30 min allowing the gratin to set up.  This will prevent the gratin from falling apart when cut.

Yields: 6 portions


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Bocanova’s Wine Buyer David Fetcho, pouring a perfect wine pairing for the Shimp Ceviche—a wine from the Basque region called Txakolina (CHA-ko-lee-na) whose main varietal is Hondarribi Zuri.

September 24, 2009

Wines to Match the Bocanova Spirit


Look for the best from South America, the Iberian Peninsula, and the West Coast on the list at this exciting new Oakland establishment

Oakland, Calif., September 24, 2009-- Wine buyer David Fetcho employed a deceptively simple philosophy in constructing the wine program for Bocanova, the "Pan-American kitchen" just opened by Rick Hackett and Meredith Melville on the newly revivified Jack London Square in Oakland: present wines that will delight the diner by offering an exciting range of accompaniments to the meal.

"There will be no generic-tasting wines on the Bocanova wine list!" promises Fetcho. Focusing on Spain, Portugal, Argentina, Chile, Uruguay, California, Oregon, and Washington, he has chosen as many wines as possible from small, passionate producers, many of whom use sustainable, organic, or biodynamic practices.  “These are wines that are true to their varietal sources, to their terroir, and to the committed vision of the winemakers,” Fetcho says.

Though such noble grape varieties as Chardonnay, Pinot Noir, Merlot, and Syrah make their appearance on the Bocanova roster, along with classics like Spain's Tempranillo and Garnacha and Argentina's Malbec and Torrontes, Fetcho is also eager to introduce restaurant customers to the finest vintages made from such lesser-known but superb cultivars as Verdejo, Godello, Mencia, Manto Negro, Tannat, Baga, and Touriga Nacional.

Among the unusual treasures on Bocanova's opening wine list are Andrew Rich Rousanne from Oregon's Columbia Valley, Los Bermejos Rosé from the Canary Islands, a deeply structured red version of Txakolina (the Basque specialty almost always seen in white form), several hard-to-find reds produced in Portugal's Alentejo region, and Bodegas El Porvenir de los Andes Tannat from the mile-high Cafayate Valley in Argentina.

David Fetcho, a native of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, has spent the past three decades here in California and abroad “tasting, studying, consulting with winemakers and importers, and just paying very close attention,” in order to develop a palate that Bocanova creator Rick Hackett calls one of the best he's ever encountered. “The wines I select are ones that teach me things,” says Fetcho. “They're like good poetry, touching you in ways that are beyond mere description. Even the Bible says that wine is a gift given ‘to gladden the people’s hearts.’ My primary duty as Bocanova’s sommelier is to make sure that every wine I present—from the least expensive wine by the glass to the rare gems at the top of the list—lives up to that standard." # # #

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Sea of Cortez Scallops—Brazilian curry sauce - Photo By Ashley Teplin, Studio-707

August 3, 2009

Mouths Have Changed

At His Vibrant New Restaurant in Oakland's Revitalized Jack London Square, Chef Rick Hackett Pays Tribute to a Vivid and Diverse World of Cuisine

Oakland, Calif., August 3, 2009--Is this a great hemisphere or what? Mexico and Central and South America gave the world a wealth of wonderful foodstuffs, including such essentials as potatoes, tomatoes, corn, chocolate and vanilla, sweet peppers and spicy chiles, and a whole hill of beans, from black to lima to pinto to white. The great melting pot of North America, in return, added its own indigenous products and an encyclopedia of imported ingredients to the mix, and turned the culinary traditions and abilities of scores of vibrant immigrant cultures loose on the resulting cornucopia.

Bocanova, the vibrant new Pan-American restaurant opening September 1 on Oakland's revitalized Jack London Square, draws on all these culinary riches, celebrating the ingredients and cuisines of Latin America and their intimate connection with their Old World counterparts, expressed through the culinary bounty of Northern California.

Rick Hackett, Bocanova's classically trained executive chef and co-owner, combines a long commitment to sustainably grown organic raw materials with impeccable California–Mediterranean credentials as a veteran of Chez Panisse, Postrio, Bay Wolf, Oliveto, and MarketBar, among other places. The idea behind Pan-American cuisine, he says, is to blend the complimentary culinary currents of Europe and the Americas in a delicious new way.

"The introduction of New World foods helped shape what we think of today as traditional Mediterranean cuisine," he points out. "At the same time, cooking in the Americas was obviously changed tremendously by Old World ingredients—foods as basic as beef and lamb, wheat, olives, and wine grapes—and by the techniques and cooking culture that went along with them. Pan-American cooking brings a whole lot of exciting regional flavors and nuances to the table, but many of the dishes are still rooted in the Mediterranean profile."

He christened his new place Bocanova, which means "new mouth", Hackett adds, because "In the gastronomically rich Bay Area, mouths have changed. We're open to new flavors and experiences. I'm not trying to duplicate traditional dishes or experiences. What we choose to call Pan-American cuisine has evolved from a conversation between ingredients and cultures, with the old meeting the new, the familiar meeting the unfamiliar.

Continue reading "Mouths Have Changed"

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Yountville resident and teacher, Chuck with son James and Bouchon Bakers Annarose and Maika were photographed by Christopher Irion for the Yountville Community Portrait.

August 8, 2008

Yountville Portrait Project Unveiled
At Monday, August 11 Block Party

AUGUST 7, 2008—YOUNTVILLE, NAPA VALLEY, CA.—On Monday a 72’ long, 10’ high wall constructed by the Bardessono, an environmentally sustainable inn and spa slated for completion this winter, becomes home to a portrait of this community of 2,900. Former urban planner and committed community builder Phillip Sherburne of Decatur Island and Seattle, WA., underwrote the project after he was introduced to San Francisco photographer Christopher Irion and his work documenting communities all across America. 

Sherburne’s vision intersected with Irion’s and in just a few weeks after meeting, the two men laid plans to bring the townspeople together to experience themselves as a community in the same way others have over five years and 20,000 miles of Irion’s travels with a handmade PhotoBooth packed in his Volkswagen Eurovan.

Long a photographer of celebrities and prominent figures whose work is seen in books and high-profile publications as well as museums and gallery shows, Irion determined it was community that most interested him.  He began five years ago with a project in his neighborhood where he created 500 portraits of the people who frequented Farley’s Café.  The photographs were taken over several months with each individual entering the PhotoBooth and Irion positioned outside, his camera lens poking through the booth wall. 

Continue reading "Yountville Portrait Project Unveiled
At Monday, August 11 Block Party"

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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?

Continue reading "Cab vs. Petite: A Different Sort of Rivalry"

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April 17, 2008

Summer Garden Cooking Inspired
By Sonoma Author in 2 New Books

Guest posting by Janet Fletcher

Anybody who loves fruits and vegetables as much as Jeff Cox clearly does is, for me, a kindred spirit. Cox, a prolific writer, has spent his distinguished professional career promoting organic gardening, wine appreciation and good cooking, all passions I share. For those of us who believe that good eating begins with a home garden—or, lacking that, a local farmer’s market—Cox’s two new books, The Organic Cook’s Bible and The Organic Food Shopper’s Guide (both from John Wiley & Sons), reinforce our prejudices. Like him, I’m persuaded that varieties matter (nothing beats an O’Henry peach), that the season should steer the menu, and that fresh produce offers endless inspiration.

A Sonoma County resident and longtime restaurant critic for the Santa Rosa Press Democrat,  Cox spent much of his early career at Organic Gardening magazine. Organic food was a fringe movement then; today’s shoppers have many more organic choices, and Cox’s new books give readers the tools to make the most of them.

Continue reading "Summer Garden Cooking Inspired
By Sonoma Author in 2 New Books"

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Yountville Seeds are grown and harvested by Amy Giaquinta, Peter and Gwenny Jacobsen, Jeremy and Jason Giaquinta in their neighboring gardens in Yountville, California.  They are sold at Kitchen Library at the Oxbow Market and online.  (Photo by Ashley Teplin).

March 13, 2008

Neighbors Cultivate Community and Backyard Business Growing Yountville Seeds

Yountville, Calif., March 13, 2008—Having watched Yountville’s Amy Giaquinta transform a rangy half-acre horse pasture into a wildly productive storybook vegetable garden, it’s hard to imagine that just a few years ago she was a young urban professional living in Los Angeles.

Giaquinta is a lifelong city girl and was raised in San Francisco.  But in 1996 she and her husband, Jerry, then an Executive Vice President of Corporate Communications for Sony Pictures Corp. bought their first wine country property as a second home. At first Amy says she was lured into gardening to improve on a field that presented them with such a dismal sight during winter visits she feared her husband would see the property as a bad investment.  Disciplined and thorough, Amy started researching gardens in earnest.  By Spring, plans at the ready, she flew to Northern California and began carving out her first garden.

All these years later, with sons Jeremy and Jason, the Giaquinta family resides fulltime in an idyllic, two-story home on the edge of town.  Urban life is a distant memory. Amy’s garden has become central to her life, to be shared with her sons, friends and neighbors.

With 900 seedlings in her greenhouse, two dozen subscription clients relying on her annually for tomato seedlings, gourmet grocer Dean and DeLuca stocking her produce (under the I Fratelli Giaquinta label) and her Yountville Seed Company up and running, Amy’s garden has graduated from hobby to commercial enterprise.

Yountville Seeds is a joint venture between the Giaquinta family and neighbors, Peter and Gwenny Jacobsen who weekend here.  Together the two families farm neighboring gardens.   Amy credits the Jacobsens with being her gardening gurus, noting they are exclusive purveyors to the French Laundry.

Their seeds, available now from Kitchen Library in Napa’s new Oxbow Market or, are certified organic and from the 2007 crop.

Continue reading "Neighbors Cultivate Community and Backyard Business Growing Yountville Seeds"

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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.

Quixote in the Blogosphere
Autumn 2007

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November 13, 2007

Quixotic We Are. Twisted We're Not.

By Lew Price, Quixote Winery

We specialize in petite syrah in the heart of cabernet country and yes, we bottle our entire production under twist-off caps.

Now, it turns out our belief that the screw-cap is the best closure for our fine wine is not at all twisted. We have company, a growing legion who have discovered as we did that a twist-off closure is the finest seal for quality wines.

Maison Jean-Claude Boisset, one of Burgundy’s largest wine merchants, bottled half its 2005 Chambertin with twist-off caps. That’s a $200 grand cru now cork free. Boisset decided to make the move after comparing 30-year-old wines sealed with corks against the same wines sealed under twist-off caps and deciding the capped wines offered more consistent quality and better fruit and freshness retention. “The future of great wines is with screw caps,’’ Boisset winemaker Gregory Patriat told Wine Spectator.

And that’s not all. Wine Spectator columnist, Matt Kramer, wrote in the magazine’s Oct. 31 issue of the results of a study conducted at a Bordeaux university that again confirmed that wines bottled under a twist-off cap generally emerge fresher and fruitier with more precise flavor definition. The study also suggested that the argument that screw-caps retard the aging process may lack merit, proving that there is oxygen ingress with the metal cap. “Screw caps sealed in more oxygen during bottling than did other closures because oxygen remained underneath the screw cap when it was attached to the bottle,” Kramer wrote. “Researchers found that when in place, screw caps allowed the ingress of consistent low amounts of oxygen.’’

More support followed Nov.6 when Wine Spectator’s Jim Laube, in an online blog, revealed that tasters at the magazine tasted 3,600 wines in 2007 and found 325 bottles flawed by bad corks, a failure rate of about 9 percent.

“I know cork producers insist they are cleaning up their acts,”Laube wrote. “But our results, all from blind tastings, suggest the problem is as serious as ever and maybe worse. At 9 percent, you’re close to having one bad bottle per 12-bottle case spoiled and that’s absurd. If you add in the 193 wines we tasted out of twist-offs, it raises the percentage of bad bottles even higher, to 9.5 percent.

“I blame wine producers as much as cork makers for this problem, since they are the ones that choose what to seal their wines and the failure rate of corks is pathetic. We keep hearing the same old refrain about corks that progress is being made. But if a 9-percent failure rate is considered progress, I wonder what percentage cork makers would consider a disaster?”

The bottom line, the evidence says, is that wines under screw cap age exceptionally.

But those are researchers speaking. Don’t take their word for it. Form your own opinion. Compare our 2002 Quixote Petite Syrah, of which there remain only a few dozen cases, against the newly released 2004 and see for yourself.

To order both wines. click here: or call us at 707-944-2659.

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Photo by, John McJunkin

November 7, 2007

Artists, Architects & Innovators Visit Quixote

Winemaking art collectors Norman and Norah Stone lit up the international art scene when they unveiled Stonescape on Calistoga’s Diamond Mountain in the Napa Valley.

With art-loving guests jetting in for the crisp harvest weekend, Meadowood’s wine director Gilles de Chambure led a day-long side tour to Quixote Winery and Harlan Estates.

Soaking up Friedensreich Hundertwasser’s colorful architecture at Quixote pictured here (left to right) are:
Gilles de Chambure, MS, Meadowood’s Director of Wine Education; Howard Karawan, COO of Fontainebleau Resorts, and Jo Karawan, of Fort Lauderdale; architect Abigail Turin and Jonathan Gans, of San Francisco; host Pamela Hunter; art collector Peter Norton, founder of Peter Norton Publishing and the Peter Norton Family Foundation, and Gwen Norton, of New York City; fashion writer Jennifer Magdalene Raiser; Helen Hilton Raiser of SFMOMA; sculptor Michele Oka Doner and art advisor Ethan Wagner of New York City.

Stonescape Cabernet Sauvignon is made for the Stones at Quixote Winery.

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image courtsey Quintessa

October 24, 2007

A veteran wine maker who bears watching

By Holly Hubbard Preston
Friday, October 19, 2007

OAKVILLE, California: 'The life of a vintner is probably the most personally life-consuming of all businesses that I know of," said Agustin Huneeus, settling into an upholstered armchair in the high-ceilinged living room of his Napa Valley home. "Your person has to be out there."

That may go a long way to explaining why after nearly five decades, Huneeus, 73, is still in the game. The Chilean native has turned around troubled wineries in Chile (Concha y Toro) and California (Franciscan Vineyards, now owned by Constellation Brands) and restructured the multibillion-dollar wine division of Seagram.

Today, he and his wife of 44 years, Valeria, a viticulturist with a doctoral degree in biochemistry, own Huneeus Vintners, which owns the well-regarded Veramonte vineyards in Chile and Quintessa Estate in the Napa Valley.

The couple and their son, Agustin Francisco, actively manage both wineries, dividing their time between Chile and Napa. Veramonte, a winery created in 1990 with its flagship label Primus, pushed Chile's Casablanca Valley into the limelight, while Quintessa, a blend of Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot, has secured a place among the Napa Valley's top estate wines.

Those who know wine, and Huneeus's career, say that his moves bear watching. Huneeus is a "quiet kind of planner," said Karen MacNeil, author of "Wine Bible" and an authority on all things grape. "He combines phenomenal business acumen with an almost intuitive sense of where the wine industry is headed."

"Agustin Huneeus is one of the most successful entrepreneurs in the wine business," said Chris Fehrnstrom, president of Icon Estates in Napa, formerly known as Franciscan Estates until it was purchased by Icon's parent, Constellation. His "intuition and intellectual curiosity results in his ability to 'see' opportunities where others don't."

The son of a Chilean fishing industry magnate, Huneeus entered the wine business in 1960 at the age of 23 by purchasing a majority stake in Concha y Toro, which was founded by one of his ancestors in 1883. The move was intended as a short-term investment: Huneeus, as acting managing director, planned to liquidate the winery and hold onto its land. But the more he studied the winery, the more excited he became by its export prospects throughout the Americas.

Over the next 11 years, Huneeus transformed the winery from a jug wine producer into an export label, complete with foil-sealed corks and European-style glass bottles.

When Huneeus gave up the winery in 1971, it was not for profit but politics: Salvador Allende, a Socialist, had been elected president of Chile. Huneeus handed the winery over to the state and left for a job in Argentina working for Seagram, taking his young family with him.

"At that time, we thought maybe socialism was a way to give these people a better life," he said.

Seagram quickly tapped Huneeus to lead its global wine division, a sprawling fiefdom of 16 wineries spread across eight counties. After creating the first consolidated balance sheet for the division, he discovered it was losing money.

"It was a time when the corporate strategy among beverage companies was to buy whatever it could," he said. "The digestion part was not being done adequately."

Huneeus stayed at Seagram for six years, during which time the wine division became profitable.

Perhaps because of his dual background in private wineries and big beverage companies, Huneeus is circumspect on the subject of corporate ownership of wineries, a hot topic in world wine making centers.

"The instincts of the corporation run counter to wine industry," Huneeus said. "The corporation wants to have brands and market share and control of the distribution channel, and the wine industry does not inherently operate that way."

He believes that modern beverage corporations understand the importance of personal history and local flavor in wine making, which is why, he said, they are now making greater efforts to give autonomy to their individual wine holdings.

As for his own business, Huneeus wants his son to take over and grow it as he sees fit. His own preference, though, is clear.

"The corporate way," he said, "is not how I want to go."

Editor’s Note: For additional information contact Pam Hunter- 707-258-1699 x 15 or
[Posted: 10/22/2007]

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September 13, 2007

Harvest check list for Quintessa

Sauvignon Blanc harvested, fermenting nicely
Silverdale South Merlot night harvest in progress
September 22 Equinox fast approaching

Was this Michael Sipiora's check list upon waking in the pre-dawn today?  

It might have been.  Last week’s high temperatures have everyone on the move here in the wine country.   As a biodynamic and organic farmer at Napa Valley's Quintessa Estate, he has a few additional considerations in mind.

The vines ready for harvest at Quintessa on August 31, 2007.

Sipiora is viticulturist for Quintessa Vineyards in Rutherford (Napa Valley), a piece of vineyard land that is in itself somewhat remarkable.  In 1989 co-proprietor Valeria Huneeus identified these 280 acres as the last great undeveloped property in the Napa Valley. On land never before farmed, she saw a great wine estate with rolling hills, myriad microclimates and a vast diversity of complex soil types. Now, 18 years later, Quintessa is home to a respected wine estate.  Valeria has been its vineyard master (or mistress?), laying out and planting the vineyard blocks and determining with certitude that Quintessa would be chemical free.

From L to R, these wooden boxes provide shelter for the bees at Quintessa. Stinging Nettle and Chamomile grow in their biodynamic gardens and are made into tea.

Today Michael Sipiora is the devoted steward of this property.  He lives in a world of Stinging Nettle tea, algae extracts, kelp meal,  and humic acids.  He thinks about vemicompost from the Sonoma Valley Worm Farm to add organic matter and micro-organisms to the soil. And yucca, aloe, algae and quartz to protect his vines from extreme heat, among other things.

Thinned as much as 3 tons per acre before the ripening process really kicked in.

Applied biodynamic 501 preparation on fruit days, a solution with quarts that is applied to foliage to stimulate the ripening process.  This application was made when the moon was in Leo.  Leo is associated with fruiting.  According to biodynamic theory, the processes in the plant are heightened during this period.
Applied stinging nettle tea with algae extracts, kelm meal and humic acids to combat leafhoppers in some blocks.

Used this same tea in the drip irrigation system to rejuvenate the soils, add nutrients, plant hormones and help the elements in the soil to bind.  This proved particularly beneficial on the rocky hillsides where organic matter is at a minimum.


Summer Equinox.  With the help of the cows who reside permanently in the Quintessa vineyard, Michael will prepare horn manure and bury it in a small ceremony.

Tess, one of the Quintessa's two cows, provides manure for the compost pile and brings serenity to the property.

After 17 years of grape farming, Quintessa has embarked on a re-planting schedule for some of its 26 different vineyard blocks. At the north end of the property, Michael is preparing the Limelight block for replanting.   His objective is to change the rootstock, clone, row orientation and spacing. Last year mustard, rapes, and many kinds of grasses and cover crops were planted.  In the spring the soil was tilled.  Biodynamic compost, rock phosphate and lime were added to introduce magnesium and raise the ph.  Now the land lies fallow for a year (no fumigation!) to reduce nematode populations. In Quintessa's continuing search for quality, Silverdale North will be ripped out at the end of harvest and added to the replant schedule.

File written by Adobe Photoshop® 5.0
The Winery at Quintessa      

In 2002, Valeria and Agustin Huneeus' dream of the Quintessential Wine Estate, one vineyard that produces one singular estate wine, was realized with the opening of the winery at Quintessa. Walker Warner Architects of San Francisco designed the winery to reflect Agustin and Valeria Huneeus' desire for an inconspicuous structure that would blend into the contours of the property. The graceful crescent-shaped design was carefully considered for its environmental sensitivity and fits snugly into an eastern-facing hillside, disrupting little in the way of the aesthetics or natural beauty of the property. A facade of indigenous stone and natural landscaping of native plants and oak trees creates a subtle presence amidst the diverse terrain.

Winemaking Facilities 

Quintessa is truly a "winemaker's winery." The design facilitates a gravity-flow process and a state-of-the-art winery specifically tailored with fermenters and tanks sized to match the diverse blocks in the Quintessa vineyard. Additionally, the winery at Quintessa is outfitted with the latest in winemaking technology. French oak and stainless steel fermenters stand tall along the winery's front wall, providing the winemaking team with a choice of characteristics adding complexity and subtlety to the blend. Two Vaslin-Bucher JLB automated basket presses, designed to retain the benefits of gentle basket pressing while incorporating new efficiency and precision, are situated at the center of the tank room to receive the grape must following fermentation and maceration. At the heart of the winery and overlooking the tanks and presses below, sits the glass-enclosed blending room and adjoining modern lab where the winemaking progress is painstakingly monitored daily.

Behind the press hall lies the main entrance to Quintessa's caves, 1,200 linear feet (17,000 square feet) of caves and tunnels carved into the volcanic ash hillside directly behind the winery. Here the wine is left to age in French oak barrels in ideal cellaring conditions for 16-20 months before bottling. Quintessa's caves can be entered through one of four porticos from the winery and have a capacity to store up to 3000 barrels.

Address: 1601 Silverado Trail, Rutherford, CA 94574
  P.O. Box 505, Rutherford, CA 94573
Telephone: 707-967-1601
Tasting appointment: Visitors are welcome by appointment only. Tasting fee is $35 a person. Tours are offered at 10:30 a.m., 12:30 p.m., and 2:30 p.m.
Architecture: Walker and Warner Architects
Proprietors: Agustin and Valeria Huneeus
Acreage: 280 acres of which 170 acres are planted
Consulting Winemaker: Aaron Pott
Director of Vineyards and Winemaking: Charles Thomas
Viticulturist Michael Sipiora
Varietals planted: Classic Bordeaux grape varieties in 26 vineyard blocks as follows: Cabernet Sauvignon (129 acres), Merlot (26 acres), Cabernet Franc (7 acres), Petit Verdot (4 acres), and Carmenere (4 acres)
Sales Inquiry: Jim Sweeney, Managing Director
Marketing Inquiry: Gwen McGill, Director of Marketing and Public Relations
Hospitality Inquiry: Lora McCarthy, Director of Hospitality

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

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June 1, 2007

Tsurukichi: Ancient indigo is the new black

Tsurukichi: Ancient indigo is the new black

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The rich, vibrant hues of indigo blue are replacing black in the wardrobes of this summer’s best-dressed women – many of whom are choosing the Tsurukichi Indigo creations of Matt Dick. This San Francisco fashion designer works with fabrics dyed at a centuries-old factory in Japan, where the ancient art of indigo brings out intricate patterns in luscious shades from robin’s-egg to deepest black-navy.

Indigo flags, waving in the spring breeze, guided guests to last Friday’s Tsurukichi Indigo trunk show at the Stags’ Leap District home of Pam Hunter and Carl Doumani. A nearby pavilion offered sushi and beer, but shoppers made a beeline for Dick’s designs, choosing delicately woven scarves, gossamer vests and boldly-printed bags and shirts.

Bolts of cloth in dozens of patterns, casually displayed at the edge of the lake, provided an elegant background as Dick demonstrated techniques for wrapping bottles in furoshiki, squares of cloth used in Japan since ancient times to package gifts and goods.  As an extra thank-you, every purchase was wrapped in an indigo bag.

--Louisa Hufstader

To purchase any of these items, please visit Matt Dick at his new San Francisco Location: Tsurukichi- 864 Post Street - 415-292-5550 -

Editor’s Note: For additional information contact Pam Hunter- 707-258-1699 x 15 or
[Posted: 5/31/2007]

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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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March 28, 2007

Quintessa Winery Family Celebrates Easter in Chile


Easter with Chile’s Wine Visionaries
Four generations of the Huneeus family give Easter a Latin accent with pork empanadas and herb-crusted lamb, all matched with their phenomenal (and inexpensive) wines.
Food and Wine Magazine - April 2007

In Chilean wine, the Huneeus name is as famous as Mondavi is in the United States. Since the 1960s, the winemaking family behind the Veramonte label has helped turn Chile into a powerhouse of dependable, inexpensive reds, and more recently, they have pioneered fine single-estate blends in California. Now, as four generations gather for Easter at patriarch Agustin "Cucho" Huneeus and his wife Valeria’s house in the glamorous beach town of Zapallar, Chile, the family discusses its new mission: to show the world that inexpensive Chilean wine can be better than dependable—in fact, it can be stellar.

The day begins with an Easter egg hunt, organized by Valeria. After the granddaughters have searched and screamed through the house—an 1890s adobe villa with an inner courtyard full of hydrangeas, calla lilies and jacaranda trees—the family gathers in the front garden for an Easter feast. At a table overlooking a cove filled with red and blue fishing boats, Agustin Sr. and his son Agustin Francisco pour the wine. Delicate shooters of local king crab and sweet avocado are delicious with a crisp Veramonte Sauvignon Blanc. The main course is a juicy leg of lamb encrusted with bread crumbs, mustard and fresh herbs; it’s matched with Primus, Veramonte’s signature blend of Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon and Chile’s Carmenère. Valeria, who is a vegetarian, serves the lamb alongside crispy, puffy potato balls (papas duquesas) and a traditional Chilean tomato salad with sweet onions. "I always cook a meat because I cannot impose myself," she says in a voice that is both regal and breathy.

The Veramonte vineyards are in Casablanca Valley, 45 minutes northwest of Santiago. Not long ago, the area was nothing but pasture and scrub forest, and unlike the majority of Chile’s wine areas, it does not get water runoff from the Andes. Agustin Sr. bought land there in 1990 after noting the distinctive flavor of grapes from a small local vineyard. "When my father made his investment here, Casablanca didn’t exist," says Agustin Jr. "People thought he was insane." Because of its long, cool growing season, the valley is now a prized appellation—Casa Lapostolle and Concha y Toro both have vineyards there—producing richer, though far fewer, grapes than Chile’s warmer Central Valley. "We can hold off on picking the grapes to make the tannins smoother without losing fruit flavor," says Veramonte winemaker Rafael Tirado. The winery building—imagined by Agustin Sr. as a replica of Santiago’s central market, which was designed by Gustave Eiffel—is surrounded by 1,100 carefully planted acres of the Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc, Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and Carmenère grapes that become 200,000 cases of Veramonte and Primus wine each year.

The 73-year-old Agustin Sr. is a hands-on vintner whose closest encounter with retirement is a daily post-lunch siesta. As we walk through Chardonnay vines that have just been pruned, he stops and calls over Jorge Figueroa, Veramonte’s viticulturist, and points to bunches of grapes on the ground. "What’s your strategy with this?" he asks. Figueroa explains that they’ve cut the grapes to keep production to no more than seven tons per hectare in keeping with Agustin Sr.’s mandate of quality over quantity. As his father nods, Agustin Jr. says, "He hates that there are so many grapes on the ground. This is a lot of money."

Agustin Sr., who combines an aristocratic bearing with hand-on-your-back bonhomie, is a descendent of one of Chile’s oldest families. His ancestors include the first president of the University of Chile and the wife of the founder of the legendary Concha y Toro winery. He has lived in both the United States and Argentina, where he fled after the election of President Salvador Allende. "Agustin and Valeria have traveled all over, so they have a vision of the world that is different from other people in Chile, who have been limited by geography," says writer Isabel Allende, the niece of the former president and, ironically, one of Agustin Sr.’s closest friends.

Agustin Sr.’s life swerved into wine in 1960, while he was managing his father’s fish meal company. As an investment, his stockbroker suggested he borrow money to buy the struggling Concha y Toro. He decided to change the wines from a commodity sold in bulk in just two varieties—red and white—into something more appealing. He improved quality, introduced new brands at different prices, and started selling wine in European-style bottles instead of caning-wrapped chuico jugs.

By the end of the 1960s, Concha y Toro was exporting $1 million worth of wine a year. That ended with the 1970 election of Allende, whose socialist policies were at loggerheads with large landowners like Agustin Sr. Hearing rumors that he was about to be arrested, Agustin Sr. fled with his family to Buenos Aires. He eventually came to New York to head international operations for Seagram’s. Agustin Sr. left corporate life the day after he received his green card in 1977.

After Agustin Sr. bought and sold several California vineyards in the 1970s and ’80s, vintner Peter Sichel called him to help sell the flailing Franciscan Vineyards. Agustin Sr. ended up staying on as a partner and starting Franciscan’s Estancia label, which turned heads when, at $14 a bottle, it won the 1991 Sonoma County Harvest Fair’s Sweepstakes Award. "There had been no real demand for quality wines at $10 before, and what came afterward—Kendall-Jackson and the like—started there," says Agustin Jr. The Huneeuses entered the high-end California market in the early 1990s after buying a Napa vineyard that now turns out a single wine: Quintessa, an opulent blend of Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot that currently commands $125 a bottle.

Veramonte, like Quintessa, illustrates the potential of single-estate blends. A pioneer of this Meritage concept, Agustin Sr. says, "I don’t think for a minute that the variety of the grape defines the wine." One of the purest expressions of this is the robust, berry-flavored $20 Primus, launched in 1997. "Chile’s role is to make $20 wines better than any other place in the world," says Agustin Jr. "To do Primus in California, it would have to be a $100 wine."

With his mop of hair, bell-bottomed brown corduroys and MBA from Northwestern, 41-year-old Agustin Jr. is something of a foil to his Prada sunglasses-wearing father. Where Agustin Sr. is open and romantic, his son is intense and more businesslike, and what they call each other—Father and Augie—reflects this. After working on and off with his father throughout his life—one of his first memories is flying in his father’s plane over a vineyard, looking down on the grape pickers—Agustin Jr. came back to the family business in 2003. Says Valeria, "It wasn’t what I wanted, but I realized that it was what my son wanted. I always feared the electricity of the father-son relationship. But they work well." A self-described "finance guy" who reels in his father when he becomes too expansive ("Oh, Mr. Censor," Agustin Sr. responds with a smile), Agustin Jr. runs marketing and strategy while his father oversees planting and production. "As an MBA, Augie understands the business environment of wine today more than I do, since I got stuck in the ’romance’ part of the wine business," says Agustin Sr. In late 2007, Agustin Jr. will put his business acumen to the test with another venture: He will launch a boutique chocolate company based in San Francisco, sourcing the best cocoa from Venezuela.

Back at their Easter meal, Agustin Jr. is surrounded at the table by his three daughters—nine-year-old Antonia, seven-year-old Agustina and four-year-old Emilia—and his wife, Macarena, a clothing designer he met as a teenager. The family finishes their lunch with a delightful napoleon layered with flaky phyllo pastry, pillows of pastry cream and the delicious Latin American caramel called dulce de leche. While the girls scamper off in search of more Easter eggs, Agustins Sr. and Jr. talk about the future of Veramonte. They’re searching the best plots for what Agustin Jr. thinks is next: Pinot Noir. "Looking for the destiny of the land, that’s exciting," Agustin Sr. says, his voice dreamy. "There’s some land out there that’s our future. We have to explore. So we’ll have to build a road." His son sighs. "Great," he murmurs. "Because we’re so good at that."

Ian Mount has written for the New York Times, Wall Street Journal and New York Magazine. He lives in Buenos Aires.

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

[Posted: 3/27/2007]

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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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April 20, 2006

I like to garden, how about you?

This is the question from 7-year-old Jason Giaquinta. His 11-year-old brother Jeremy recently put up a new web site at

Students at Sonoma Country Day School, the brothers Fratelli Giaquinta- work with their mother Amy to run a backyard business that offers organic seeds and heirloom tomato starts.

Posted by Pamela at 8:44 PM | Comments (0) | Share on Facebook | Organic


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.

Posted by Pamela at 10:09 PM | Comments (0) | Share on Facebook | Biodynamic Farming, Cabernet Sauvignon, Napa Valley Wines, Organic, Quixote, Stags Leap Wine


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