Food & Drink

Wine Notes: Qupé Wines

Bob Lindquist, second from left, with daughter Paige, son Ethan and wife Louisa at the QupŽ Wines tasting room in Los Olivos.

Photo by Kirk Irwin
Bob Lindquist, second from left, with daughter Paige, son Ethan and wife Louisa at the QupŽ Wines tasting room in Los Olivos. Photo by Kirk Irwin

Winemaker Bob Lindquist and his family just celebrated the one-year anniversary of their Qupé Tasting Room in Los Olivos.

And while the tasting room is still new, Lindquist started Qupé over 27 years ago, and is widely recognized as one of the Central Coast’s winemaking pioneers.

As part of a group of young, rule-breaking winemakers in the mid-1970’s, Lindquist joined Ken Brown (Byron), Jim Clendenen (Au Bon Climat) and Adam Tolmach (Ojai) in what was then a small venture called Zaca Mesa. Each has since gone their own way, but all remain in the Santa Barbara area, making Burgundy and Rhone varietal wines.

The reason Lindquist decided to open in Los Olivos, rather than San Luis Obispo, where he lives and has his vineyard, was the fact that two of his children, son Ethan and daughter Paige — who both live nearby — agreed to operate it on a full time basis. And if you haven’t been to Los Olivos lately, you’re in for a big surprise.

Five years ago, Los Olivos had just a few scattered tasting rooms. Then the movie “Sideways” hit theaters, and in addition to rocketing pinot noir from obscurity to wine stardom, it also drove tourists by the barrel-full to the tiny town. Now there are 19 tasting rooms in a four-block area, and tourists still ask Lindquist where famous scenes were shot for the film.

For Lindquist, 56, winemaking started right out of college. “I got the bug,” he explained. “It was the hobby that turned into a job that turned into life.”

He and Clendenen built a winery together 20 years ago, where they continue to make their wines, along with Lindquist’s wife’s brand, Verdad. Louisa Sawyer Lindquist is a pioneer in her own right, planting one of the first albarino vineyards in California in the mid-1990’s.

She now makes about 2,500 cases of Spanish varietal wines each year, which are also featured in the tasting room.

The couple purchased an 80-acre property in Edna Valley seven years ago, and planted half of it with syrah and Spanish varietals. They farm organically and biodynamically, primarily because, “it’s the right thing to do.” Lindquist said a European grower told him, “Bob, I don’t understand a lot of it, but I just know that it works.”

And they’re not the only ones in the family making wine. Son Ethan started his own brand called Ethan in 2001, and son Luke is the winemaker for Tres Hermanas. Eight-year-old Theo isn’t in the family business yet. “He still has some learning to do,” Lindquist said with a smile.

Qupé Wines

2963 Grand Ave. Los Olivos, CA 93441, 686-4200

Owners: Bob and Louisa Lindquist

Winemaker: Bob Lindquist

Cases produced: 35,000 cases in 2008

Tasting room hours: Daily, 11 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Online: www.qupe.com, www.ethanwines.com, www.verdadwines.com

Janis Switzer can be reached at 434-5394 or via e-mail at janisswitzer@yahoo.com.

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