During the summer of 2016 I drove from LA to San Francisco to learn about Rhone varieties in California. A visit to Qupé was, of course, an important stop on the journey.
The drive north to Qupé from Solvang was hot and dry, but after turning off the main road, signs of life sprang up. Two expanses of lettuce fields wallpapered each side of the pavement. In this area, grapes, lettuces, and berries are the bedrock of the economy.
To get to the winery, you must drive over a cement bridge to get across the "river," which at this time was really a dry bed-- a testament to the 3 drought years prior. (But recently there has been a trickle!)
A building in the distance bustled with industry as barrels moved on the crush pad, receiving their cleaning in anticipation of the fast-approaching harvest.
It was almost time for lunch at the winery, a Qupé ritual.
In 1989, Bob Lindquist (Qupé founder) and Jim Clendenen (Au Bon Climat founder) teamed up and built a joint winery. The facility is large enough for both of them, and it's segmented into different sections. Everyday, the teams of both wineries gather together, make lunch, and discuss the day. The usually taste a few wines, too, and explore their merits and faults along the way. This daily exchange and wine tasting seems a vital and invaluable exercise in cultivating the culture within this winery.
The twin winery set-up is a unique one, but it works for Bob & Jim.
As a testament to their long friendship, if you look up in the winery, in the space where a transom would be, you'll see a few photos-- one is a picture of the two from decades ago, and the other is recent picture.
Two wineries, uniquely intertwined, helped start an incredible wine movement in the Santa Barbara area.