Qupé Wine Cellars
Santa Barbara County region
True pioneers of the Central Coast wine movement
When Bob Lindquist moved with his family from Columbia, Missouri at age 11, he had no idea just how much the climate and soul of Southern California would affect his life. He loved baseball (specifically the Los Angeles Dodgers), the entire music scene of the Southern California area and somewhat later, the wonderful assortment of wines that were produced within the State of California. Bob attended the University of California Irvine, where he received a degree in social studies. But his heart was in wine, a hobby that he had picked up while attending college and something that had quickly become his passion.
In 1975, he spent a month doing the harvest at a tiny winery (Fortino Winery) in the Santa Clara Mountains. Before the month was up, Bob Lindquist had already made the decision to make the wine business a career. He worked for the San Martin Winery and later for the renowned Zaca Mesa Winery where he was called a tasting specialist.
“My job included just about everything, from giving tours to some marketing and even helping make the wines,” he explained. “It was a total experience and I’ve always joked that I attended Zaca Mesa Wine University.” Lindquist convinced his bosses at Zaca Mesa Winery to allow him to utilize winery equipment in exchange for his time, and by 1983, the first release of Bob Lindquist’s Qupé Wine Cellars became a reality.
For the record, Qupé is a Chumash Indian word for the California Poppy, the most loved and widespread flower in the State of California and also the State’s official flower. To say the name was a natural for the wine industry would be a serious understatement. Qupé Wine Cellar’s initial releases (Chardonnay, Syrah and Vin Gris) were remarkably well received considering few in California were even contemplating Rhône varietals in the early 1980’s. Wine periodicals praised Qupé’s wines and wine festivals and competitions awarded the wines numerous gold medals.
“I guess it was a case of being in the right place at the right time with the right wines,” continued Lindquist modestly. “Since the Central Coast movement was also still in its infancy, I guess you can say we were doubly and triply blessed.” Since its early beginnings, Qupé Wine Cellars has grown to its modern level of around 35,000 cases, a mark that owner Lindquist says was achieved about four years ago and has remained relatively stable since that time. He stated that it is possible to increase Qupé’s production if needed, but that will be determined by market conditions in the future. While at Zaca Mesa Winery, Bob became friends with Jim Clendenen who later founded the iconic Au Bon Climat Winery of Central Coast fame. In 1989, the two built a shared winery located on the famous Bien Nacido Vineyard that has become a benchmark winery operation for the State.
“Since Jim and Au Bon Climate Winery only deal in Burgundian varietals (Chardonnay and Pinot Noir) and Qupé specializes in Rhône varietals, it is almost a perfect situation,” Lindquist went on. “Jim’s fruit is early developing while mine hangs longer and is harvested later on in the season. We are able to utilize the same winery equipment in a really efficient manner while managing to keep out of each other’s way.” However he does it, Bob Lindquist’s Qupé Wine Cellars has managed to remain at the top of the heap since Qupé’s inception in 1983, no easy feat in an industry that switches its favorites with the seasons. This important fact is not lost on Lindquist, a man who is as passionate today about his wines as he was in the beginning of his wine venture. He makes all of Qupé’s wines and also the most important decisions that affect the winery.
Bob Lindquist’s most memorable facet of the winery concerns his family – all of whom are now involved in the wine industry. His wife, Louisa Sawyer Lindquist, does sales and marketing for Qupé and also manages her own brand, Verdad, wines that are made from Spanish varietals. Son Ethan, 37, is a winemaker at Qupé while son Luke, 34, is winemaker for another winery named Tres Hermanas. Daughter Paige recently turned 30, and runs Qupé’s well-visited tasting room, an important ingredient in the Qupé Wine Cellar success story.
Bob Lindquist and Qupé Wine Cellars are true pioneers of the Central Coast wine movement that has caught the fancy of most Americans and many foreigners.
Dear Platinum Wine Club Members,
This is our first involvement with the Gold Medal Wine Club and we're starting off with a bang! The Syrah that we make from our Bien Nacido Hillside Estate block is one of our top bottlings each year.
I started a relationship with the owners of Bien Nacido in 1985 when I met Bob Miller at a tasting at the Ballard Store restaurant in the Santa Ynez Valley. Bob and his brother Steve bought the Bien Nacido property in the late 1960's and planted the first grapes there in 1973. In 1986 they grafted 7 acres of Riesling over to Syrah for me, which is the X Block that I still get today.
In 1991 I wanted to expand our Syrah program at Bien Nacido. I had been admiring a nice southwest facing hillside area that no grapes had ever been planted on before...I struck a deal with the Millers and the Hillside Estate vineyard, all 5 acres, was planted in 1992. We have a number of these “custom plantations” at Bien Nacido that continue to give us some of our best grapes.
It is worth noting too that our winery is located at Bien Nacido. In 1989 I formed a partnership with Jim Clendenen (Au Bon Climat) to build a winery at Bien Nacido that we lease back from the Millers. Last year we celebrated 20 years together there!
Owner and Winemaker