Posts About Petite Sirah

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?

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

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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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June 22, 2007

Meadowood in Napa Valley



Meadowood in Napa Valley

'Featuring Quixote Petite Syrah'

Meadowood’s Director of Wine Education Gilles de Chambure MS sends us this short segment from WinePeeks TV.

I hope you enjoy it.  Gilles is a valued wine country resource for groups hoping to gather to enhance their wine knowledge.

Pam Hunter

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

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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 23, 2007

Alder Yarrow on Quixote Winery and Petite Sirah

It seems to me that as people get older, especially those who we might consider accomplished and successful, they might feel a bit more license to lighten up or to stir the pot, having already proven themselves a bit to the world. I certainly plan on being a bit more frivolous, eccentric, and quirky if I can afford to in my old age.

Napa is filled with a generation of winemakers that could easily rest on their laurels. Over the past thirty years, this group of men and women have created an industry, and most have made their own fortunes. Rather than fade into the shadows of the next generation, many of these winemakers are striking out in new directions, prompting me to coin a new bumper sticker: "Old winemakers never die. They just keep fermenting."

By all accounts, Carl Doumani has nothing to prove. The founder and original owner of Stags' Leap Winery nearly 35 years ago, Doumani has not just been around the block, he was there before the streets were paved. In those days Napa valley was such a small community that when Robert Mondavi wanted to buy some of Carl's grapes, he just showed up one day and knocked on the door. Doumani didn't know who he was, but agreed.

Even before selling Stags' Leap to Beringer in 1997 for a hefty sum, Doumani had begun planning his own personal winery with a bit of a twinkle in his eye. He had no desire to create another Stags' Leap, and instead envisioned a winery that would exemplify his interest in architecture, art, and natural form. Six years later he had a winery that looked nothing like he ever imagined, and everything he could have dreamed.

It all began with a disappointing architect. I can imagine Doumani's big, stone-mason-like hands gesturing as he tried to convey a concept to the architect he had hired to do some sketches of his new winery. Doumani is an articulate guy, but architecture is famously difficult to capture in words. For whatever reason the architect wasn't getting the picture. In one of his last disappointing interviews with the never-to-be architect, he happened to notice a calendar on the wall featuring images of sculpture unlike any he had ever seen, sculpture that perfectly captured the spirit that he wanted from his building.

The calendar celebrated the work of the Austrian artist Friedensreich Hundertwasser, a man that Doumani would spend years trying to find out how to get in touch with, and still many more months trying to convince that designing a winery for him was a good way to spend his time. What Doumani didn't know was that once Hundertwasser agreed, it would still be many more years before the winery was complete. Without relaying the whole saga, suffice it to say that Hundertwasser was a great, but easily distractible mind.

The finished product, however, is unlike any building Napa has ever seen. Architecturally its closest relatives (and indeed, direct stylistic influences on Hundertwasser) are the fantastical works of Antoni Gaudi, the virtues and fantasies of which which any Barcelona tourist can extol. Trees and grasses grow out of the roof, no two windows are the same size or shape, not a single right angle exists anywhere in the building, and Carl Doumani is one happy camper.

When Doumani hired Hundertwasser, he expected to get an architect. What he got instead was more of a winery with a patron saint -- someone whose philosophies are expressed not just in the physical structure of the building, but in the wineries whole orientation to the world. Partially because of Hundertwasser, Quixote Winery is growing its grapes organically, and the environmental footprint of the winery, from water usage to heating costs is intentionally low. And perhaps most importantly (though the winery owes this as much to Doumani as it does to Hundertwasser), the winery is simply fun.

Quixote winery is a welcome reprieve from the seriousness with which most Napa enterprises approach the world. From the wacky labels, to the walkway up front that is intentionally off-kilter, to the wildly colorful and massively expensive Italian ceramic tiles (that Hundertwasser miraculously received intact after a long ocean voyage and promptly smashed with a hammer to show that perfection was not his goal), Quixote manages to be the proper Napa incarnation of its literary namesake.

If there is one aspect of the winery that is not off tilting at windmills, it is certainly the winemaking, that progresses with deliberation and care under the watchful hands and eyes of Mario Monticelli, a UC Davis educated winemaker who consults on several small labels in the valley in addition to his full time gig at Quixote.

The winery produces around 3000 cases (and will eventually top out at around 5000) of Cabernet and Petite Sirah in 4 bottlings, two of each varietal. The lower priced wines are named Panza, after Sancho Panza, Don Quixote's ineffable sidekick, and the top wines bear the name Quixote.

With the gravitas of a grizzled veteran, Doumani will tell you that in this age of consolidation, the real future of Napa lies in small wineries -- wineries who are not afraid to do things a little differently. Gazing out from his office windows at what seems to be a perfect little ecosystem of oak trees and vines in the shadow of a golden dome of some post-cubist, semi-surreal architectural fantasy, that's pretty easy to believe.

Tasting Notes: Opaque purple in the glass with the density of ink, this wine has a tantalizing nose of smoke and black licorice aromas. In the mouth it possesses fantastic texture, slipping down the tongue with flavors of cassis, blueberry and damp earth. These flavors are supported with a skeletal structure of light, grippy tannins that propel the wine to a very nice finish.

Food Pairing: There's something about this wine that just cries out for Morcilla, traditional Spanish blood sausage, grilled with onions.

Overall Score: 9
How Much?: $55

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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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January 6, 2007


Petite Sirah

2002 Quixote Panza Stags' Leap Ranch Napa Valley ($40)

Visit Quixote Winery!

[Taken from Chronicle article on 12/15/2006. View complete article!]

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

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