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A Quivira Winery Review by Matt the Wine Mo
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Quivira Vineyards
Environmental Conservation is ALWAYS in Good Taste

View of Mt. Saint Helena over Quivira's vineyards -- you can almost 
taste the granola. Or the salmon. 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 promise.

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 very well.

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 like berries.

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 wines.

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

Quivira Vineyards
4900 West Dry Creek Road
Healdsburg, CA 95448
(800) 292-8339

Matt the Wine Mo lives in San Francisco with his lover, the Boss. Matt the Mo and Boss visit Sonoma and Napa every few months, sometimes bringing along their friends the Punk (the cynical artistic type) and Fruity (who doesn't like wine) to keep the tastings real. More about Matt the Wine Mo
Google map. If you are on Highway 101 or in Healdsburg, take Lytton Springs Rd. toward the Dry Creek Valley (that's westward, ho) until it runs into Dry Creek Rd. Turn right on Dry Creek Rd. and go to Lambert Bridge Rd. (where that great store, deli, and bar is ... a great place to get a picnic lunch!). Turn left on Lambert Bridge Rd. and go all the way to the end where it runs into West Dry Creek Rd. Turn right on West Dry Creek Road and continue until you come to Quivira. The map linked above is a good tool to help find the winery.

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