One glance at the golden onion dome of the Quixote Winery in Napa California lets the visitor know: You are about to encounter a taste of serendipity, beauty and the magic of dreams made real.
My visit to Quixote last Sunday was a deeply satisfying aesthetic experience on many levels, and that is precisely because the proprietors, Carl Doumani and Pamela Hunter, spent over three decades planning it that way. Quixote is not just about the wines, which are magnificent. It is about the way these people inhabit the local environment and express their philosophy of life through cultivating grapes, through organic farming practices, through architecture, art, and winemaking. The wines of Quixote taste of this all encompassing vision brought to fruition in a glass, and it tastes sublime.
The first impossible dream was manifested when the Doumani's seduced the famously eccentric artist and architect Friedensreich Hundertwasser into taking on their building project, which was often interupted by his projects in Europe. Hundertwasser's design philosophy is everywhere evident at Quixote: color is vibrant, buildings are planted with trees, no straight lines and, oh yes, there must be a golden turret somewhere in the plan to acknowledge the crowning achievements that human creativity can accomplish when unleashed. Done!
Yet this is human activity that is organically related to the environment, not superimposed. The vintners at Quixote have made a continuing study of the various micro climates and soil compositions on their own plot of land, and farm it accordingly, using organic practices they have researched from friends and learned through trial and error, often expensively.
When asked what he does to farm organically, Carl replied "It isn't so much as what you do, it's what you don't do." That's a humble answer from a man who used a cup of worm casings for every root stock he planted, tilled out zillions of tiny rocks from the land, and experiments regularly with the latest wisdom in organic pest control and other arcane methods to ensure an abundant and healthy crop.
Later at the wine tasting, the lively and vivacious Petite Syrah and the complex, velvety and mature Cabernet Sauvignon said it all without words. Relishing the wine, the impossible dream suddenly isn't so elusive after all.
If ever there was a wine that is more than the sum of it's components, it is that being created at Quixote. Choose among their Panza or Quixote label Petite Syrah or Cabernet Sauvignon. You may purchase Quixote wines and learn more about them here, or at select retailers such as Corti Brothers here in the Sacramento area. (Note: They are currently sold out, but I am told that Corti Brothers does regularly stock Quixote wines).
Next up: Tantalizing cheeses to accompany a great wine.