We left ABC and hurried back to the car (it was a bit of a hike!) and headed on to Los Olivos to try to get to Qupe before the tasting room closed. We had driven from Santa Barbara to Los Olivos before taking the 101, but this time Google routed me on 154 past Lake Cachuma. It was a beautiful drive and saved us time!
We pulled into Los Olivos and Parked at the end of the street. Saarloos & Sons was closed for the day, but were obviously busy with an event on the back patio! We passed them and headed to Qupe apologizing for arriving so late! The tasting room here is cozy and welcoming. There are 3 logos on the windows: Qupe is Bob Lindquist’s label; Verdad belongs to his wife and Ethan to his son.
Qupe Verdad Ethan Tasting Room
Qupe (pronounced Kyoo-pay) is the Chumash Indian word for the California poppy. The Chumash Indians are native to the Central coast and Bob wanted to honor these people. Bob Lindquist moved to Southern California with his family in 1964 when he was just 11. He got into the wine industry in the mid 70’s starting with a harvest at Fortino Winery. From there he went to San Martin Winery to work in the tasting room and worked his way up to assistant manager. He ran the San Martin tasting room in Ventura County and started frequenting the wineries in the Santa Ynez Valley. Here he felt his calling. The story goes, that he worked in a wine shop in Los Olivos for the son of the co-owner of Zaca Mesa. From there he met Jim Clendenen who was the assistant winemaker at Zaca Mesa at the time. Here’s where rock-n-roll steps in…Bob got tickets to see the Kinks and got fired from the wine shop for attending the show (I’m assuming he skipped work for it). Jim Clendenen hooked Bob up with a job as Zaca Mesa’s first tour guide. Without many tourists to guide, Bob spent most of his time in the cellar learning from Jim how to make wine. In 1983 he left Zaca Mesa to work full time on his own label Qupe. Bob & Jim share a winemaking facility to this day out at Bien Nacido. Verdad is the label Bob partnered with his wife, Louisa Sawyer Lindquist to specialize in Spanish varieties. Verdad makes a Grenache based Rose, as well as Albarino and Tempranillo. Total production is about 2000 cases. Ethan is the small label of one of his older sons (Ethan!). This label is small and produces Grenache, Sangiovese, Grenache Blanc and Syrah.
Qupe Wine Glass
So on to the tasting!
- Verdad 2011 Grenache Rose Sawyer Lindquist. This wine was harvested in two lots. Lot one was then de-stemmed and sat overnight to absorb color. Lot 2 was whole cluster pressed. This was stainless steel fermented with a long cool fermentation using native yeasts. You get ripe strawberry and rose on the nose and then watermelon and strawberry on the palate with a little herbal quality. Really nice, and we took a bottle of this with us!
- Verdad 2011 Albarino Sawyer Lindquist Vineyard in the Edna Valley Acid, minerality. Done in stainless and whole cluster pressed. Only 100 cases produced. So different from everything else we had tasted that day. This was the first stainless white of the day.
- 2009 Chardonnay, Bien Nacido Reserve – Block 11 This wine is aged 18 months in French oak with 60% of that in new Francois Frères barrels. This wine is clean on the palate. While you get lots of oak on the nose, it is not over oaked and still has a bright acidity. This is a really nice Chard. This wine is grown on a steep north-facing hillside, which softens the sun exposure.
- 2008 Ethan Grenache, Edna Valley. This wine would pair perfectly with pork. It is a lighter red so good for warm weather drinking but with enough intensity of flavor to stand up to pulled or roasted pork.
- 2009 Qupe Syrah Sawyer Lindquist Vineyard. This is a spicy peppery cool climate Syrah. It is complex and well balanced with a depth of pepper on the nose.
This tiny little tasting room has some gems to taste and…if I get a hankerin’ for a Qupe wine…he has a high distribution Chardonnay that I can get right down the street at Fresh & Easy! To bad they don’t carry that amazing Verdad Grenache Rose!
Stearn Wharf Sign
Drawn to the coast we began on the beach in Santa Barbara wandering Stearns wharf and then tasting at Municipal Winemakers on Santa Barbara’s Urban Wine Trail in “The Funk Zone”. Au Bon Climat called and we strolled up the beautiful State Street with bougainvillea petals blowing on the breeze to taste there. Jim Clendenen’s wines lived up to the hype in my book. Then it was just a beautiful drive up 154 to Los Olivos past Lake Cachuma to taste at Qupe/Verdad/Ethan in Los Olivos see some of the amazing wines Bob Lindquist creates. A relaxing tasting on the back patio at Carhartt slowed our pace and had us waxing poetic on the glorious fragrances of Brooke Carhartt’s wines. Dinner of small plates and a wine wall where I could enjoy tastings or a glass at Avant Tapas and Wine ended a perfect day one.
In the morning we caught the marine layer drifting through as we headed north into Foxen Canyon stopping for a great tasting at Zaca Mesa. The property here is beautiful. This is the winery that turned out both Jim Clendenen and Bob Lindquist as well as numerous other amazing winemakers. After our tasting here, we headed North to Arroyo Grande and enjoyed a tour at Talley. As we toured the winemaker Eric Johnson stopped by on a couple of occasions to say hello and answer questions. Now it was on to our final destination of Paso Robles. We tasted at Booker which is off of 46 West and were greeted by the winery dog who is the spittin’ image of our dear Mojo from Miramonte!
Day 3 began at Bella Luna, a tiny winery south-east of Paso, where Sherman, the winemaker was pouring their Italian style wines. Staying on the East Side we drove on to Sculpterra with their amazing sculpture garden live accordion music and lovely wines. We made our way back to the West side of the 101 to Vines on the Marycrest where they were hosting a “Songwriters at Play” event. The sun filtered through the tasting room windows and the music filtered in from the patio while we enjoyed a great tasting and conversation with Jennifer while Vic the winemaker and a sound engineer busily took care of cables, mic stands and making sure the sound system in the tasting room gave us the best mix. Our day ended strolling downtown where they were having a wine and art event. We were drawn into the Parrish Family Vineyards elegant tasting room where enjoyed tasting the Parrish Family wines with a cheese pairing from Vivant cheeses and I was treated to a wonderful conversation with winemaker David Parrish regarding yeast!
Another beautiful morning saw us enjoying a drive in on Vineyard Drive from the south. Shale Oak is a newer winery in Paso and I had been lucky enough to stumble across them on Cellar Pass. The peacefulness of this spot in the morning with its stunning architecture topped by it’s eco friendly stance made for a beautiful start to the day. We added a little adrenaline to the morning with a drive out Peachy Canyon Road. The twists and turns put this West Virginia girl right at home. We stopped at a small winery called Stacked Stone. Winery owner and winemaker Donald Thiessen saw us pull in and came out to open the tasting room to pour for us. The property is in a lovely wooded area landscaped with “stacked stones”. Back up Peachy Canyon we headed toward one of the highest limestone plateaus on the West side of Paso Robles 1200 feet above the Salina Valley. Here at Lloyd’s Lookout sits the Calcareous Winery and tasting room. The views are amazing. We enjoyed a tasting followed by a lunch pairing with food by Thomas Hill Organics.
Mid day saw us heading North and East to San Miguel and tasting at family owned and run Locatelli. Raynette Gregory the co-proprietor poured for us.
From this small family owned winery, we headed further east to the big new tasting room on this block, Nigel Lithgoe’s Villa San Juliette. The drive out is lovely with expansive views of the East side hills and the property itself is impressive. Photo’s to come! From here we were a little wined out…so time for a little pacific coast palate cleanser. We headed to the coast and dinner at Moonstone beach. We finished dinner and drove partway back to Paso to pull off and wait to watch sunset.
Our final day started with tour at Tablas Creek. We are loyal members here and took a tour before our tasting. The place has grown so much since our last trip here. We saw Bob Haas arriving for the day, and while we did not see winemaker Neil Collins, we did get to hang with his dog Millie! From here we had a little time before our tour at neighboring Halter Ranch and made a stop at Adelaida to taste the wines, the almonds, see the sheep and alpacas and meet Addy the vineyard cat. We headed back to Halter Ranch to do our tour and tasting, and fell in love with the place. The new winery here is state of the art and stunning. We ended our trip here on a high note.
So that is the quick view, watch for detailed posts and pictures from these amazing wineries over the next few weeks.