Partner and Winemaker
Mention Syrah and the name Qupé will soon come up. An original Rhône Ranger, veteran winemaker Bob Lindquist was one of the first to advocate American-made Syrah and other Rhône varietals such as Grenache, Roussanne, and Marsanne. He has been a leader in the movement producing world class editions since the early 1980s and continues his quest with the same zeal he started with. Consequently, Qupé has been deemed one of the Wineries of the Year for Wine & Spirits Magazine - every year since 1999. In March 2015 Bob received the Lifetime Achievement Award from Rhone Rangers. His passion for wine is only equaled by his passion for the Los Angeles Dodgers.
Bob's first wine encounter was as a U.C. Irvine student in the early 1970s, where he sipped quality wine for the first time and instantly was hooked. He began frequenting Hi-Time Cellars, a well-stocked wine shop in Costa Mesa, asking lots of vinicultural questions. In 1975, Bob moved north to pursue a career in the wine business. His first job found him working harvest at Fortino Winery, near Gilroy. From there he went up the ranks at San Martin Winery, and seized the opportunity to manage their new Ventura County tasting room in 1976. While working there, Bob decided his destiny lay in the wine country of Santa Barbara County.
On New Year's Day, 1979, Bob moved to the Santa Ynez Valley to manage an innovative wine shop in the little town of Los Olivos. The shop's proprietor was the son of Marshall Ream, who co-owned the nearby Zaca Mesa Winery. Through this connection, Bob became friends with Jim Clendenen, Zaca Mesa's assistant winemaker at the time.
Indulging his obsession for rock-and-roll, Bob bought tickets to a late summer Kink's concert. After his boss abruptly fired Bob for attending the show, Jim Clendenen stepped in and got Bob a position as Zaca Mesa Winery's first tour guide. Tourists were few and far between in 1979, so Bob spent most of his time in the cellar, learning to make wine under Jim's tutelage.
Bob struck out on his own in 1982 and founded Qupé (which means "poppy" in Chumash), renting space in other area wineries to make his wine. As production grew, Bob focused his efforts on Syrah and other Rhône varieties, but continued to craft ever-popular Chardonnay, which helped to pay the bills.
In 1989, Bob joined his old friend Jim Clendenen (who founded Au Bon Climat in 1982) to build a winery of their own under a lease agreement with Bien Nacido Vineyards. To this day, the two continue to produce their wines at the elegant facility, located on the Santa Maria Mesa.
Bob and Jim have mentored dozens of winemakers over the years including Bob's wife, Louisa Sawyer Lindquist. With Louisa as winemaker, Bob partnered in a second winery, Verdad (the Spanish word for "truth"), which specializes in Spanish varieties. To take their wines to the next level, Bob and Louisa purchased an 80-acre ranch in the Edna Valley in San Luis Obispo County in 2002. The couple installed the 40-acre Sawyer Lindquist Vineyard, which is planted to Pinot Noir, Marsanne, Syrah, Grenache, Tempranillo, and Albariño, and is certifiably farmed according to strict Demeter biodynamic standards. Resulting wines consistently hit the 90 point plus wine review scale.
In October 2013, controlling interest in Qupé was acquired by investor Charles Banks. Charles' investments include such notable wineries such as Mayacamas and Sandhi. Bob Lindquist is now a partner and remains the winemaker. "It's nice to have a financial partner who shares our vision. Charles is such a wine geek. He's a perfect fit. And he's local," states Bob. "This partnership allows me to focus on the vineyards and winemaking."
February 18, 2017