Quintessa Winery is discreetly tucked into a hillside on the Silverado Trail just north of Rutherford Cross Road. The 280-acre site is planted with 160 acres of Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Cabernet Franc, Petit Verdot and Carménère in 26 vineyard blocks which are farmed and harvested to preserve and enhance the variances in the soils and elevations on the property. Quintessa specializes in one premium Cabernet Sauvignon each vintage which reflects the natural conditions for that harvest season. Depending on the year, Quintessa may include some or all five of the varietals grown on the property and then ages them separately for up to two years in French Oak barrels, and after blending, lay them to rest for twelve months in the bottle.
Designed by Walker Warner Architects, the visitor center, winery and caves are sleek and modern, with rustic accents. The hospitality center is well choreographed with lots of open areas and skylights with careful design considerations to create privacy for tasting experiences, both for large or small parties. The winery and 17,000 square foot wine caves are ultra-modern, with gravity flow portals situated on the roof-terrace which are operational and on display during harvest season.
Tasting experiences at the winery are available by reservation only and include three seated options- A “Salon Tasting”, which is marketed as an introduction to Quintessa. It is hosted in the main tasting salon and includes a white wine and two vintages of Cabernet. There is also the ninety-minute “Estate Experience” which includes the wines plus a guided tour of the winery and caves, and the “Quintessential Experience” which “exemplifies the ideal fusion of world class wine and nature”. This experience includes the winery and cave tour with a private tasting in their glass pavilion on top of Dragons Hill, which immerses the guests in a 360 degree view of Quintessa vineyards and lake, not visible from the road. When guests reach the pavilion by ATV, four Quintessa wines await accompanied by a cheese pairing. The tasting experiences range in price from $70- $150 and must be booked in advance.
An experience at Quintessa is top notch and geared toward wine aficionados and premier wine drinkers. Guests are greeted in the hospitality center and introduced to their host where names are exchanged. Hosts are for the most part dedicated to each private group, with the exception of the tasting salon, but even there, it seemed even if they had a couple parties to care for, they were exceptionally attentive. The Tasting Salon is situated with several small tables and cozy seating arrangements. In the center there is a service bar which seemed staffed at all times, but used to centralize operations. The experiences focus on story telling- centered on the quality of the wine. This is, actually what Quintessa is all about. The staff, some who have worked there over five years, all seem extremely well trained to tell the story and were well versed on the background of each vintage, winemaking practices and terroir.
Guests are given a bound folder when they are seated which contains some cards on the winery and vintages, and a list of the wines that are being poured. The pricing for the wines was also accessible on a list at the back along with an insert on the wine club. Unless asked, the pricing and club references were never brought into the conversation during the actual tasting of the wines. This seemingly was by design as the intention was to keep full focus on what was in the glass and how it got there. When the tasting experience was coming to a close, the hosts made sure to show the guests where to find the information and noted a large percentage of the visitors were club members, and told some stories about member events or special perks, but never went into a hard sell. They all made sure to query as to interest in purchasing wine or reserving futures in upcoming vintages. From the beginning to the end, one never felt rushed or pressured to follow an agenda and upon leaving were graciously thanked, given a personal business card from the host and encouraged to return.
The V Files™ gives Quintessa high point scores in all five categories. They delivered on everything one might expect from a premier, boutique single cabernet wine experience. It was elegantly presented with attentive, well trained staff. The vibe is not about quantity, but quality, at your own pace, and it is easy to understand why Quintessa’s following is loyal to their brand.
1601 Silverado Trail
St. Helena, CA 94574
WHAT THEY DID WELL: Created a feeling of exclusivity without pretentiousness. All visitors felt welcome no matter what level of wine drinker they were. Private, attentive approach to all experiences.
DTC BEST PRACTICES EXAMPLES:
STORYTELLING: Focused on the wine, the property and terroir with full presentation of the property.
CONNECTING WITH HOST: Hosts assigned 1:1 or 2:1 allowing full attention to relate and communicate in a private setting. Personal business cards given at check out with invitations to return.
- Excellent knowledge of their wines and how they are produced by vintage
- Accommodating and setting expectations
- Subtle positioning of club through member stories
- Non-imposing close- asking for the sale