If you think you don't like dessert wines, you might want to open a bottle or two of Quady Winery's luscious wines made from the Muscat grape. The upcoming holidays are a good time for newcomers to acquaint themselves with Quady's delicious selections that come with fanciful and intriguing names like Essensia and Elysium.(Greek for heaven).
Those already in the know about Quady's wonderful wines which can be enjoyed on their own or paired with everything from pumpkin pie and chocolate t, creme brulee, panna cotta and more might want a little reminder that the holiday season is just around the corner and a glass or two of Quady is a festive addition to any celebration.
A Bit of History
Following Andrew's graduation in 1973, Darryl Corti of Corti Brothers Gourmet Foods and Wine asked him to make 200 cases of Zindandel Port in 1975. As word got out about the quality of his product, Quady Zinfandel Port was soon distributed nationally.in 25 states Spurred on by his success, Andrew, in 1979, arranged for the planting of Portuguese Port varietals in the foothills east of Sacramento.
A year later, a county farm adviser told him of a tract of Orange Muscat grapes growing nearby. He bought the grapes and produced Essensia, the essence of Orange Muscat. His delicious new sweet wine got a boost in 1981 when restaurant diva, Alice Waters, added Essensia to the wine list at her restaurant, Chez Panisse in Berkeley.
After a grower of Black Musca tgrapes heard of his successes, he offered to sell Quady his crop, which Andrew bought in 1983. While fermenting the grapes, the wine makers noticed the aroma of roses filling the winery and decided to call the aromatic addition to its inventory Elysium.
In 1988, Quady decided to discontinue his Port label in deference to respect for the idea that geographic regions such as Champagne or Porto in Portugal should have the rights to the names as identifying monikers. As a result, he renames his port-style wine Starboard.
In more recent years, a Moscato d'Asti style wine called Electra, a Red Electra - made from the Black Muscat grape, both a dry and a sweet vermouth and a dry red table wine, Visao, made primarily from Tinta Roriz, a Portuguese Port varietal, were added to Quady's wine catalog.
In 2009, the London-based International Wine and Spirits Competition, the largest wine competition in the world, named Quady Winery Top U.S. Producer.
What do you love about the wine business?
Working with nature to transform fruit into a product which people love. Also the people in this business, both customers, other winemakers, and the wine press.
How would you describe the style and philosophy of winemaking at Quady Winery?
Our business is built on the development, production, and marketing of new wine styles especially suited to grapes from our region: the warm, dry climate of the San Joaquin Valley. This led us to emphasize Muscat varieties, particularly the formerly ignored Orange Muscat variety and the little appreciated Muscat Hamburg (Black Muscat) as well as Muscat Canelli.
What is the most exciting thing you’ve done in the wine business?
Working with our long time Winemaker, Michael Blaylock, to develop the low alcohol frizzante Moscato style. This style of Muscat is enjoyed by people who like sweet beverages, juicy flavors, and lower alcohol levels. It was exciting to see the acceptance in our market, and in certain Asian markets, for these wines. We are a pioneer in this area, and these wines account for some 85% of our sales.
Where do you see the vermouth category headed?
We developed our Vya Vermouth with the idea of vermouth being an
interesting and delicious beverage on its own, not just as a mixer. As more and more people discover how good some vermouths taste by themselves, there will eventually be a larger market for vermouth on its own and in vermouth-based wine cocktails.
What is one of your favorite pairings with one of your wines?
Blue cheeses with Elysium. I particularly like Roquefort cheese with this wine: the salty tang of cheese makes a great counterpoint to the luscious Black Muscat fruit in Elysium.
Who were your biggest supporters in the early years?
Darryl Corti (Corti Brothers in Sacramento), The Duke of Bourbon (David Breitstein), Wallys (Steve Wallace), Alice Waters (Chez Panisse), Hugh Thatcher (San Francisco Wine Exchange), Vern Rollins (MV Wine Company), Pat Ellsworth, Mike Golick. Michael Druitt of Hallgarten in the U.K. The list goes on. I was lucky to start at the time that I did, when the wine industry was smaller in California. There was curiosity in niche wine styles and unheard of varietals.
What are your biggest markets and how has that changed?
Thanks to the San Francisco Wine Exchange, we had national distribution in 25 states by 1979 or so. The biggest markets were California, Illinois, Colorado, Texas and New York. We got into the export market fairly early. In the mid-1980s the U.K., Canada and the Netherlands were selling Essensia and Elysium. After we came out with Electra in 1990, we started selling to Taiwan. Korea opened up in 2007. When the Moscato boom started in the 2000s, we started selling more to the Midwest, downstate Illinois, Indiana, Missouri, Ohio and Kansas. More recently, Texas, Arkansas and Oklahoma.
Where is Quady Winery headed?
Continual growth in the Moscato and vermouth segments; building our sales and wine-making teams. Laurie and me stepping back a little to enjoy our families..