I told Quincy that the purpose of these interviews is to get to know the winemaker personally. The truth is that we can read about their wines on their well done websites. And, let's face it, with winemakers also working to market their wines and answering questions from retailers and writers like me! they may have necessarily developed some standard operating answers.
So let's get right to the point. "Quincy, do you have a dog?"
"I do," he says. "A Border Collie Collie, Oona. She spends every day with me chasing rabbits at the winery." Sounds like a great day to me I say! "Yeah, she loves it. Oona came from a farm so she is in her element."
Quincy is the son of legendary winemaker and winery owner, Jed Steele. "I was always around wine." Quincy remembers how the Steele Dynasty started. "My father would drive around with his wines in the back of a truck and not return home until all the wines were sold!"
Quincy seems to have the heart of a poet. Before he turned full on to winemaking, he was studying history and english with intentions to teach. But then he says "the wine bug bit me."
Quincy is Assistant Winemaker for Steele and now has his own labels: Shooting Star, Writer's Block and Calvino Jones. "As winemakers, we look for good vineyards, the best sources, concentration of fruit." Quincy says of the core work. "Because winemaking is basically farming."
Quincy poured his shooting Star Zinfandel, Writer's Block Petite Sirah, Calvino Jones Mountain Wine Elaboration and Steele Aligote to a crowd of about 30 @MetroWines. The Aligote was a break out star!
Aligote under the Steele label, from a vineyard in Sunnyside, Washington is a Steele specialty. "There are only about 5 acres of Aligote in the United Staes," Quincy says. "Steele is the only or one of the only wineries making wine from Aligote."
Quincy is particularly proud of his Shooting Star Zinfandel. "Many Italian winemaking families settled in Mendicino so many of the vines are 50 years old." Made from these sturdy vines, Quincy says "Shooting Star Zinfandel is a great value for the high quality."
But Quincy keeps his poetic heart in the wine. Take a look at the back of a bottle of Writer's Block. A different writer waxes poetic on the back of the label for each varietal changing with each vintage.
"From dryland to highland and flats and mountains...deep roots put down, tapping ideas as well as terroir. Always as much an unapproachable lady, fortunately secretive and seductively shady. a fictitious myth this zinfandel of mine." Colin Davis
"Bear with me. Normally words trip off my tongue like hundreds of curbside drunks trying to hail the same taxicab," so says the back of the bottle of Counoise. "The bottle temptress is green, smoky green of lichens and cool thickets where lovers escape from parched Augusts and prying eyes," the writer says of Syrah.
The wines under the label Calvino Jones are Quincy's work inside and out. Calvino Jones Mountain Wine Elaboration is a blend of grapes from 15 different vineyards. Quincy made the wine with another winemaker and designed the label. "I wanted a fun label but also one that reflects the wine," he says. "Most labels have nothing to do with what's in the bottle!"
Writer's Black Wines are food friendly and versatile. Never over the top or too big as, let's tell it like it is, some California wines can be.
But back to the business of wine. Quincy has worked in vineyards and wineries in all around California, Australia, Argentina and Burgundy, many trips to Burgundy, back and forth to Burgundy, Burgundy, Burgundy, Burgund!
All of this experience, travel and forward thinking have brought Quincy to a new endeavor: Working with several other winemakers on a project addressing the inherent "energy" in the winemaking process. The research focuses on whether to ever "intervene in the process" and, if you do, when, how and why. Quincy would always prefer to "do the hard work at harvest" and then "let it flow."
So Quincy makes great wine. But who is he? I ask few questions to try to find out!
Favorite movie? Quincy says movies that show the search for "who you are" but in "a light way."
Song? Quincy answers this one quickly: "Watching the Detectives by Elvis Costello."
Desert Island Wine? "Pinot Noir. It goes with the kind of fruit and vegetation you might find on most islands." Which one, I ask. Quincy is pretty specific about his one and only one wine question! "A single vineyard Burgundian style."
If you are not serving Steele wines, what will we find on your dinner table? "Burgundy. I go back and forth there quite a bit."
Going out now on a big and bold and plainly apparent limb, I ask Quincy if his wines French influenced? "Definitely." No surprise there!
I ask Quincy what he wants people to know about his wine. "It's about the land."
So says the poet winemaker.