A visit to Quixote Winery, Napa Valley

Entrance to Quixote Winery

Entrance to Quixote Winery

Tasting at Quixote Winery

Inside Quixote Winery Tasting Room

Quixote Cabernet Sauvignon

View from the window at Quixote Winery

Vats at Quixote Winery

View of Quixote Winery

View from the window at Quixote Winery

View of Quixote Winery

Playful, quirky and artsy, Quixote Winery on the Silverado Trail, caught my attention a few years ago with its clever, yet unusual design.  There is no mistaking this winery in any picture you’ll see of it.  I was intrigued and had to see it for myself.

Amongst the tussocks on a little hill in Napa’s Stags Leap District you’ll find the tasting room and winery, complete with gold domes. It seemed to be designed by a clever child, but automatically I liked it.  It has a quirky, strange, but fun personality oozing all over it, from the exterior, to the barrels and vats.

This is of course the only Friedensreich Hundertwasser-designed building in America.  It’s also home to The Red Wine of Stags’ Leap Ranch in Napa Valley.  Maybe you haven’t heard of Hundertwasser, an eccentric Austrian artist/architect whose designs are famous in Europe, but after a visit, this is not something you’ll easily forget.

We started with a tasting in a small group setting of the two wines made under the Quixote label: Petite Syrah and Cabernet Sauvignon.  Our guide, Renee, explained Hundertwasser’s background, how came to design the winery, and how he eventually ended up in New Zealand.

In the late 1980s, owner of Stags’ Leap Winery, Carl Doumani, began plans for Quixote.  He wanted to build a smaller winery and vineyard across from his original vineyard.   The winery was finally finished in 1999, after ten years of building and design work.

As we walked among the tussocks and into the winery, Renee explained Hundertwasser’s approach to the design.  At Quixote, no two windows are alike, there are no straight lines and roofs are planted with grass and trees.  There were specific design rules with everything from this eclectic artist.  Every building is capped with a gold leaf onion dome apparently to “elevate man’s sense of himself”, and here, color is king.

The winery itself is interesting with vats wrapped in white plastic featuring flower stickers.  As we walked into the small barrel room I noticed each of the metal hoops making up the oak barrels were painted with bright colors.

I think I just uncovered a little treasure on the Silverado Trail; a little playful noise amongst the more serious and “proper” wineries of the Napa Valley.

Expert tip:

I found the winery hard to find, so if you get lost call them and they will give you directions.  Signage is easy to miss when you are driving along the Silverado Trail.

WineryCritic Ratings

7/10 Overall visitor experience

8/10 Knowledge of guide

8/10 Location

9/10 Architecture and design, landscaping

8/10 Other experiences: Tours & tasting

9/10 Knowledge of tasting room staff

8/10 Friendliness of staff

6/10 Signage & ease of access

8/10 Quality of the wines poured

Appointment required:  Yes

Address:  Quixote Winery
, 6126 Silverado Trail
, Napa, CA 94558

Tasting room hours: N/A Appointment only

Tasting fees:

$25 per person – Tour and tasting:  Available Tuesday – Sunday (closed on Mondays) at 10am, 12pm, 2pm and 4pm.

Good for:  Architectural and design fans, artists, photographers

Wines produced:  Petite Syrah and Cabernet Sauvignon. The 2005 and 2008 vintages of Petite Syrah received 93-pts from Wine Spectator.

What’s nearby:  Clif Lede, Stags’ Leap Winery, Shafer, Robert Sinskey, Silverado Vineyards.

District/Appellation: Stags Leap, Napa Valley

Contact for appointments:  707-944-2659 or info@quixotewinery.com

Date of visit: July 20, 2013

E-mail:  mindy@winerycritic.com