One of California's Rhone-variety specialists, Bob Lindquist of Qupé, is already thinking about what he'll drink if the Los Angeles Dodgers win the baseball World Series.
He has been a Dodgers fan since 1965, just after his military family moved to southern California. It was a good year to be an 11-year-old LA fan, as the Dodgers won the Series and Lindquist's favorite player, Sandy Koufax, pitched the clincher.
"I've been hooked ever since," Lindquist says.
Lindquist has been making great syrah, marsanne and other wines in Santa Barbara County since 1983 and his love of the Dodgers has spilled into his winemaking. The famous stylized "LA" is one of three logos he worked into the label of a special 30th-anniversary wine that Qupé released this year. The wine is 2008 Block X Syrah from the oldest block at Bien Nacido Vineyards, where Lindquist shares a winery building with his mentor, Jim Clendenen of Au Bon Climat.
"That block was originally planted to riesling in 1973, and grafted over to syrah in 1986," Lindquist says. "Maybe six to seven years ago, the vines started to behave like older vines. They don't crop too much, they don't crop too little. The berries are a little smaller."
The other logos on the anniversary syrah are the Beach Boys and The Kinks. The former is just a band he likes. The latter is a band he likes so much, they got him fired – and made him a winemaker.
Lindquist was working at a wine shop in Los Olivos in 1980 when he wanted a night off to go to a Kinks concert. The owner didn't give him permission, but he went anyway. He was fired the next day.
But all was not lost. The father of Lindquist's boss owned Zaca Mesa winery. "That afternoon his father called and hired me to work at Zaca Mesa," Lindquist recalls. "He hired me as Zaca Mesa's first tour guide. He said, 'You probably won't get a lot of tours so you'll have to work in the cellar too.' My boss at Zaca Mesa was Jim Clendenen, who at the time was the assistant winemaker there. We're still business partners today."
Lindquist has never gotten in trouble for going to a Dodgers game. He only attends four or five games a year because Dodger Stadium is a three-hour drive from his home in Arroyo Grande "if there's no traffic," he says. Unfortunately, "there's always traffic."
Lindquist's favorite moment at a Dodgers game wasn't actually in L.A. In 2008, the Dodgers closed their longtime spring training facility in Vero Beach, Florida.
"I did a boys trip with my father and two sons," Lindquist says. "One night we went to Berns Steakhouse (in Tampa) and drank wines from all of our birth years, including my dad, who was born in 1931. It was a Croatian dessert wine."
At the last game, longtime Dodgers manager Tommy Lasorda came out of retirement to lead the team because another group of Dodgers was touring China with then-manager Joe Torre.
"At the end of the game, Tommy went out there to the mound and just stood there, looking around," remembers Lindquist. "I'm sure he was crying. People gave him a standing ovation. It was one of the coolest things I've seen. It's choking me up just thinking about it."
Qupé isn't open to the public, so unlike Napa Valley wineries, which often get visits from San Francisco Giants and Oakland Athletics players, Lindquist's most significant Dodger visitor has been former third baseman Robin Ventura, now the manager of the Chicago White Sox. He also became friends with former Dodgers announcer Stu Nahan, and he once had a visit from former Athletics first baseman Scott Hatteberg, a wine aficionado made famous in the movie "Moneyball."
The Dodgers haven't won the World Series since 1988. But this year they have an excellent chance. The team was in last place on June 21 but has the best record in baseball since then, and will enter the postseason well-rested after clinching the National League West title on Sept. 19.
Lindquist is thinking about 1988 wines in case the Dodgers go all the way.
"I've got at least a bottle or two left of 1988 Chave," he says. "If they make it to the World Series, I'll stand it up. Maybe I'll drink it either way.
"Some of my wines from 1988 are still going strong. About a month ago we took some members from our wine club to Dodger Stadium and we drank our wines from the 1988 vintage on the bus. We drank 1988 Marsanne, 1988 Chardonnay, 1988 Bien Nacido Reserve Syrah. The marsanne was probably the best."
He didn't bring the 2008 Block X Syrah because ironically, the last place he wants to drink the LA-logo wine is anywhere near Dodger Stadium.
"I try to keep that logo hidden from the Dodgers' legal department," Lindquist says.
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