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, Qupe has been deemed one of the Wineries of the Year for Wine & Spirits Magazine every year since 1999. In March 2015 he received the Lifetime Achievement Award from Rhone Rangers. Bob’s passion for wine is only equaled by his passion for the Los Angeles Dodgers.
Born in the Midwestern U.S., Robert Neil "Bob" Lindquist moved to Southern California with his family in 1964 at the age of 11. The music scene was in full swing and as the Beatles, Beach Boys, Kinks, Byrds, and Rolling Stones electrified the airwaves, Bob's passion for rock-and-roll ignited. In fact, the Kinks would later figure as a plot device in Bob's path to becoming a winemaker.
Bob had caught baseball fever while living with his family in Germany and listening to the radio as the Pirates upset the mighty Yankees in the 1960 World Series. In 1965, during his first Southern California baseball season, the Los Angeles Dodgers won their third World Series since moving west. The event galvanized Bob into an instant, avid Dodger fan who often sports their logo wear.
While attending U.C. Irvine in the early 1970s, Bob 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 and buying all the wine he could afford.
In 1975, Bob moved his young family north to pursue a career in the wine business. His first job found him working harvest at Fortino Winery, near Gilroy. When harvest ended, he landed a position in the tasting room at the venerable San Martin Winery, a key player in the growing Central Coast wine industry. Bob's contagious enthusiasm and ever-expanding knowledge of wine soon earned him a promotion to assistant manager.
When an opportunity to manage San Martin Winery's new Ventura County tasting room came up in 1976, Bob seized it. While working there, he often drove north to explore the wineries of the Santa Ynez Valley. Bob frequented Firestone Vineyards, Santa Ynez Valley Winery, and Rancho Sisquoc Winery, admired the fruit of the famed Sanford and Benedict Vineyard, and 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 passion 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. Also on staff were winemaker Ken Brown and Adam Tolmach, who served as the winery's enologist, both of whom have gone on to win international acclaim for their winemaking skills.
While working at Zaca Mesa Winery, Bob began buying grapes and barrels, and foregoing a paycheck in exchange for use of the winery's equipment. In 1982, he founded Qupé and produced Chardonnay, Syrah and a dry rosé of Pinot Noir, for a total of 900 cases. Bob struck out on his own and left Zaca Mesa Winery following the 1983 harvest, renting space in other area wineries to make wine for Qupé.
As Qupé's 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. The two continue to produce their wines at the elegant facility, located on the Santa Maria Mesa.
Over the years, Bob and Jim have mentored dozens of winemakers, including Jim Adelman, Gary Burk, Frank Ostini and Grey Hartley, Paul Lato, Louisa Sawyer Lindquist, Morgan Clendenen, and Gavin Chanin. Proving that the wine business can be a true family affair, Bob's two older sons, Ethan and Luke Lindquist, have become winemakers, while his daughter, Paige, developed and managed Qupé's tasting room and wine club for the first 4 years. With his wife, Louisa Sawyer Lindquist, as winemaker, Bob has partnered in a second winery, Verdad, which specializes in Spanish varieties.
In 2002, Bob and Louisa purchased an 80-acre ranch in the Edna Valley near the city of San Luis Obispo. The following year they moved to San Luis Obispo with their then two-year-old son, Theo. In 2005, the couple installed the 40-acre Sawyer Lindquist Vineyard, which is planted to Pinot Noir, Marsanne, Syrah, Grenache, Tempranillo, and Albariño, and farmed according to strict biodynamic standards.