Sonoma County County is an Epicurean Eden populated with Organic Vineyards producing world-class wines. Quivira’s vineyards, farms and organic gardens beckon foodie and wine tourists.
On a recent press tour to Sonoma County to experience its sustainable winemaking practices, I visited Quivira Vineyard and Winery Located in Dry Creek Valley on a 110-acre estate at the confluence of Wine Creek and Dry Creek, Quivira produces Zinfandel, Sauvignon Blanc and Rhône varieties that embody its unique terroir: gravelly soil and sandy loam planted with 59 acres of vines.
Quivira’s name has an interesting backstory. The founders, Harry and Holly Wendt are known for their world-class collection of old maps. Quivira was the name on maps of the California coast dating back to the 1500s denoting the land where present-day Sonoma County is located. The Wendts sold Quivira to Pete and Terri Kight in 2006 who currently own the vineyard and winery.
“Our vineyards go back to the early 70s with some of our purchase grapes from local old vine vineyards dating back over 100 years. There are still some amazing old vines in vineyards around here that really put Dry Creek Valley on the map with arguably some of the finest Zinfandel on the planet,” says Hugh Chappelle, Quivira winemaker.
Dry Creek Valley is known for producing Zinfandels but Chappelle points out its dramatic temperature swings are optimal for Sauvignon Blancs. “Probably the two areas best known for top Sauvignon Blanc in Sonoma are Russian River and Dry Creek Valley. Russian River has cooler days but warmer nights. Dry Creek Valley often has warmer days but colder nights. We get wonderfully ripe flavors and aromas almost every year with an acidity that can be pretty bracing on its own,” says Chappelle.
With summer days in Dry Creek Valley reaching up to 100 degrees and nights dipping into the high 40s, the swing in temperature actually allows the acidity to be retained in the Sauvignon Blanc, giving a distinctive character to the wines. To buffer the Sav Blanc’s acidity, Quivira ages the wine in a mix of stainless steel and older French oak barrels.
The vineyard is sustainably certified for its holistic and biodiverse practices that include solar power, managing its own half-acre compost pile and water conservation practices. “That certification is reflective of our stewardship of the land. Biodiversity is a philosophical touchstone for us. Instead of depleting resources from the vineyards, we are naturally replenishing nutrients back into the soil which nourishes the grapes, ultimately resulting in better quality wine. Quivira is also involved in habitat restoration projects in Wine Creek and Dry Creek for Coho salmon and Steelhead trout,” says Chappelle.
Quivira’s winegrowing program is a collaboration between winemaker Hugh Chappelle and viticulturist Ned Horton, the vineyard manager who aligns the property’s farming practices for fine winemaking.
The property has an organic garden open for tours, a working farm, apiary and livestock, all enhancing its biodiversity.
“We are also committed to integrating plants, animals, and microbes into Quivira’s natural surroundings and creating perfectly balanced self-regulating systems. Quivira is unique in that we not only create all of our prepared vineyard applications, but we grow the material on the Estate,” says Ned Horton, vineyard manager.
Sitting out on the patio overlooking Mount St. Helena, I taste several of Quivira’s organically farmed wines including a small lot, handcrafted 2018 Rose Wine Creek Ranch that has earned Quivira 90 plus scores from all the three major wine critic publications. “It is a specialty of the house, even before Rose became so crazy trendy. Our Rose comes from a single vineyard and is estate bottled and certified organic,” says Chappelle.
I also taste a 2017 Alder Grove Sauvignon Blanc, a new vintage that blends Sauvignon Blanc and Semillon and recently rated 93 by Wine Spectator. “This is a fuller bodied expression and because of its softer acidity. I finish with Quivira’s signature Sauvignon Blanc, a single vineyard estate bottled and certified organic fruit. “Quivira is very distinctive stylistically. We love Sav Blancs because the alcohol is low so it has that wonderful drinkability and pairs well with a variety of foods. It’s a thirst-quenching wine that ages well. We get a racier acidity by picking the grapes a little earlier which also allows the wine to age fabulously,” says Chappelle.
For information on Quivira’s Estate Tastings and tours go to https://quivirawine.com
For more on what’s new and next in design, subscribe to The Design Tourist Channel and sign up for the blog email.