Saturday, April 12, 2008

Quixote Winery: Favorite Things

In the wine country of Napa Valley one can easily find ersatz Italian villas, faux chateaux, and all manner of non-descript modern winery buildings that make little impression at all. And then there is Quixote Winery. Utterly unique, fresh and provocative, the building is a joy to behold.

As Alder Yarrow at Vinography says "By all accounts, Carl Doumani has nothing to prove." After selling the incredibly successful Stag's Leap Winery, he created a smaller winery and vineyard right next door. Working with eccentric Austrian Friedensreich Hundertwasser he created a building that, as Doumani puts it, makes you smile. Reminiscent of the organic architecture of Gaudi, there are no straight lines, the roof is topped with grass and trees, there is a golden turret and colored tiles. The overall effect is a whimsical feeling. Yes, if you had achieved much in your career, perhaps the next thing to refocus on would be pleasure and doing things the way you want to, bucking the system in the manner of Quixote himself.

The wines Doumani makes are the wines he loves, Cabernet Sauvignon and Petite Syrah. They are bold and gutsy wines to match a big appetite for life. The Syrah in particular is marked by spice and has a very long finish. While I'm not one to eat roast game and barbecue lamb all that often, these are certainly the wines for it. Because it is so small, Quixote is open by appointment only to just a handful of visitors a day. I do hope when you go you meet Carl and hear stories about working with Hundertwasser from his mismatched socks to his smashing tiles. But mostly I hope you get a chance to experience this very happy building.

In addition to the post and wine review on Vinography read articles on Quixote and Carl Doumani at the Napa Valley Register the New York Times and Jennifer Jeffrey's blog.