Like all good San Francisco liberal mo's, the Boss and I consider
ourselves to be quite environmentally enlightened. A straight friend from the East
Coast (*squeal* yes, I have straight friends!) once referred to us as
"crunchy" ... though not, apparently, quite as crunchy as another friend
who spent time in Nepal founding orphanages with the Peace Corps. In
any case, we certainly do use our recycling bins, and we don't use the
car that often ... well, except, you know, to go
wine-tasting or hiking. *Ahem* Our next car will be alternatively fueled, I
With our pretensions to green-itude, we were, of course, immediately
attracted to a winery that claims to be environmentally conscientious.
Lo, on the horizon, Quivira!
Our first visit is so beshrouded in the mists of time that I cannot
quite recall the details. Oh, okay, the truth is that it was one of the last
places we visited, so I was a bit tipsy. What! A! Surprise! In any case, in my experience over the past several years, Quivira has been very consistent in their products, so I will be limiting my description to our latest visit, with (who else) the Punk (you remember, the jaded artist) and Fruity (our young friend who doesn't much care for wines).
Quivira's physical presence is, alas, much the same as most of
the Sonoma Dry Creek -- upscale architecture, native stone, that sort of
thing. However, Quivira is distinguished by the presence of a full
array of solar panels on the roof of the building. Of course, the building
is set at the edge of a their picturesque vineyards near a cluster of
trees by the side of the creek. The parking lot and outdoor seating
cum barbeque area is liberally dotted with native vegetation.
Inside the walls of the winery and tasting room, the visitor finds
the usual collection of posters, flavored mustards, and
similar brik-a-brac. Quivira, though, adds a special note with a
private collection of antique maps. The wine-maker has a fascination (that I
share, but cannot afford to requite) for old hand-drawn maps. Many of
his collection are early maps of California, particularly of Northern
California. His collection is extensive enough that portions are featured
occasionally in special exhibitions. Fascinating stuff to me. (And to
the Boss, too, though I think he is just playing "Me Too." [Post-editing
note: he claims that I am the one playing "Me Too" ... What. Ever.])
So on this last trip, we tasted the wines. This was actually Fruity's
first winery ever, so we got the Punk to hold him down, the Boss pried
his jaws open, and I poured a taste of wine from a crystal ewer into his
mouth. Well, anyway, we imposed on him to try the wine along with us.
The first thing we tried was the 2004 Fig Leaf Vineyard Sauvignon
Blanc. Nummy, nummy! It was my favorite kind of white wine, with the taste
of leaves on a forest floor peeking out from behind a sunny, citrus yet
slightly creamy flavor. This wine, I have found, goes extremely well
with strongly flavored cheeses like aged gouda. (Not that young gouda that is so common
here in the USA and that is fed to the elderly and convalescent in Denmark. Go to a good cheese shop to ask for the aged stuff.) This wine was also good enough to keep Fruity in the
game; indeed, after Quivira he was willing to taste just about everywhere.
Next, we tried the winery's "signature" bottle, the 2003 Steelhead Red.
A blend of Grenache, Mourvédre, Syrah, and a wee drop of Zin, this red
is great with all kinds of food. It is also a good drinking wine,
though perhaps a bit tannic for some people's taste if not paired with a
robust food. Please note: this wine is so generally drinkable that it is
the ONE thing that Fruity wants to drink outside of wine tours.
For our last two tastes, we tried two different kinds of Zinfandel.
Now, Quivira wants everyone to believe that Steelhead Red is their
signature wine -- what with the salmon that they are trying to restore to the
creek on the logo and in the name -- but Zinfandel is what I always
think of when I think of Quivira. They make lots of it, and they do it
The first of the Zins we tried was the 2002 Anderson Ranch Zinfandel.
Always a good choice, this one is full of berries. It may seem like a
shame to drink this without a hearty dish to compliment it, but I love
this stuff by itself on a dreary evening. It's not quite the "jammy" that
the winery's marketing fluff claims (thank goodness) but it does taste
We next hit the 2002 Tambellini Ranch Zinfandel. This was also a very
strong Zin, but for me it didn't quite have the staying power of the
Anderson Ranch. It also didn't scream "berries" quite so loudly (and
believe me, I know screaming "fruit!").
We didn't try it this time, but I have, in the past, tried the
Mourvédre Rosé (though I think it was the 2004 instead of the 2005 currently
being poured). I'm not a big rosé fan, though some appeal to me. Theirs
will probably satisfy people who enjoy rosés, but it is not something
that I can widely recommend to those who are not afficionados of the pink
Overall, Quivira is a stop well worth your time when you find yourself
in Dry Creek Valley, Sonoma County. There are many small- to medium-size
wineries there, so you should make time to visit. Quivira has recently
had all of their wines certified biodynamic and organic. That might
scare some of you, but I assure you that their wines are as good, in
fact often better, than any other fine California wine you might choose,
and come with the extra advantage of being crafted with skillful
attention to ecological concerns. Their winery is largely powered by their
new (early 2005) solar system, an extra advantage to the environment,
since wineries consume a lot of electricity for cooling.
Bottom line: satisfy your palate with superb Zins and an excellent
Sauvignon Blanc without any guilt about the environmental impact.
Last visited: March 2006