Victorian Los Olivos

The 1880s were a time of tremendous growth in California, with people immigrating here from the East, as well as various parts of Europe.  One Easterner who believed his future was in California was Alden March Boyd.  Due to health issues, he was forced to drop out of college.  He visited Europe, as well as various locales in The Sunshine State before purchasing a small ranch in the Santa Ynez Valley.  Wishing to improve the quality and landscape of his home, he planted an estimated five thousand olive trees, calling his estate Rancho de Los Olivos.  The name had a nice sound to it, and when the Pacific Coast Railway completed their line extension through the area in 1887, they decided to call the town Los Olivos.  Although more commonly known nowadays for its wineries rather than olives, the picturesque town is thriving with tourists and elegant architecture.  Most Victorian dwellings have high ceilings – usually around 9′ to 10 tall’.  The added ceiling height helps to regulate indoor temperatures.  It also, from a feng shui standpoint, helps to better circulate the flow of chi (energy) within the indoor environment.   Many of the new condo and apartment buildings being constructed today have returned to using historic design elements – including 9′ ceilings.   Those Victorians knew what they were doing.   Most modern ceiling heights are 8″, which is not bad.  But 9″ is more optimal for chi flow.

On my recent trip to Los Olivos, I visited the Qupe/Verdad/ Ethan Tasting Room.  Housed in a beautiful Victorian style building (above), the wines here were rich and luscious. This is a family business, with the patriarch of the family, Bob Linquist, as creator of Qupe Vineyards (pronounced cue-pay), while his wife Lousia makes the Verdad label, and his son Ethan makes – you guessed it – the Ethan label.   As impressed with the wine as I was, I was really taken with the layout of the tasting room.  They use a variety of vintage design styles here, especially focusing on that of Gustave Stickley.   A furniture designer, Stickley visited Europe in 1898, where he was introduced to the Arts and Crafts movement of the era.  The Arts and Crafts movement was somewhat of a rebellion against mass production, focusing more on products that were hand constructed by small groups or individuals rather than in factories.  The design style features simplistic lines and influences from natural surroundings.  Here at Qupe, it can be seen in many ways, from the classic mission style furniture, to the elegant Qupe motif of a poppy.   As you can see, wood and fire are the dominate elements used in the tasting room decor.  Nostalgic reproduction lamps act as a perfect example of fire energy, with the light green walls representing wood.  The wood furniture and bar are beautiful to behold.  I also really liked the carved front door, and the side table that uses a wine barrel end as its top surface.

As I meandered through the space, enjoying the tastings of the select wines I sampled, I noticed a bookshelf of wine.  I immediately felt comfortable and at home.  Of the wines I had, my two favorites were the Verdad 2009 Tempranillo, and the Verdad 2007 Tempranillo.  Both held a mellow and spicy appeal that warmed my soul.   A bottle of the latter came home with me.  The Qupe 2010 Viognier was also intriguing.

A private  chamber in the back provides more intimate tastings on the weekends.  Keeping true to the Arts and Crafts theme, I noticed a cunning wine rack made from barrel slates and reclaimed wood.  Not only it is green in its design, I’m guessing it’s also handcrafted locally, and fits in perfectly with the Stickley style.  I would have this in my home.

In feng shui folklore, the poppy is a symbol of romance and loyalty between lovers.   Displaying two together, especially in hues of red or orange, can help to draw romance to an area.  Poppies also symbolize sleep and rest.  Upon the suggestion of wine connoisseur Ann Johnson, Bob Linquist settled on the poppy motif in the window above to symbolize Qupe Wines.  Found in a vintage design book of the Stickley School of Design, the motif was meant to be embroidered on bed linens to help one sleep.   And Qupe is the Chumash word for poppy.    The elegant poppy motif is also on their over-sized wine glasses, which are available for purchase, or as a gift with a new wine club membership.

If you happen to be in the Los Olivos area, I highly suggest visiting the white Victorian house of Qupe/Verdad/Ethan Wines.  Unlike poppies, their wine will not put you to sleep – but could help to transport you to a more nostalgic time.

Qupe /Verdad / Ethan Tasting Room

2963 Grand Ave, Los Olivos, CA 93441

805 686-4200

Hours:  Tasting room open daily 11:00 to 5:00

A Garden Oasis at Carhartt

The bewitching grace of the colorful  fish called koi has long attracted mortals.  In the folklore of many eastern countries, koi is considered to be a symbol of strength, endurance, courage and abundance.  It was also believed that the larger the koi one owned, the more prosperous one would become.  As I was entering the Carhartt Tasting Room, I was immediately taken with the colossal fish sculpture acting as guardian to the establishment.  The intricate metalwork of the delicate fins and scales is a truly beautiful thing to behold.  I am honestly not certain what kind of fish it is, but it reminded me of the stately koi.  Also known as “swimming flowers,” koi are available in a wide variety of colors, usually white, yellow, orange, red, black, or any combination thereof.  If we can judge by the grandiose size of this fish, then Carhartt must be thriving in its prosperity.

Located in the wine hamlet of Los Olivos, Carhartt is perhaps one of the smallest tasting rooms I’ve ever visited.  Photographs, mostly of the winemakers and nearby landscapes, adorn the walls of the matchbook-sized room.  But what really captured my attention was the heavenly garden in back.  Guests are invited to have their tastings out here when the weather is fine, as well as to just come and enjoy a glass or bottle at their leisure.  From a feng shui perspective, this tranquil oasis has all of the five elements represented, blending together in perfect unity:

  • Wood – The trees and lush plants in the garden.
  • Fire-The colors of the flowers and flower pots, as well as the wine in our glasses.
  • Metal -Parts of the fountain and patio furniture, and the metal signage
  • Earth – The stone of the fountain, the terra cotta flower pots, and brick tile on the ground.
  • Water – The elegant fountain, part of which is made from a wine barrel (pictured below)

Notice the little stone frog perched in the fountain.  Frogs, in feng shui folklore, attract luck and wealth, especially when paired with other items such as water and flowers.  Also, this specific frog is placed diagonally from the main entrance to the garden, which can help to attract wealth to the environment.  I think the frog is cute, and adds a healthy energy to the fountain and surroundings.  And I think I spot some real living fish in the pond, too.

And now on to the wine.  All six of the intricate wines we tried were intoxicating and lovely.  The two that really impressed me were the 2010 Sangiovese and the 2009 Syrah.  The Sangiovese had a deep, silky sheen in color and tasted divine, with hints of strawberry and oak.

The Syrah won my heart, however.  A deep, blood red wine with suggestions of chocolate, pepper, and blackberry.  It was love at first taste.  A bottle of this fine liquid gem accompanied me back home.  I will most assuredly be purchasing this again.

Another aspect I love about Carhartt wines are the labels on the bottle.  Each varietal has a different animal on it.  The Syrah has a pig, the Merlot a pheasant, the Sangiovese a rooster.  All of these animals have different meanings and symbolism, both in feng shui and other historical avenues.

The rustic class and simplicity of Carhartt made for a wonderful wine savoring experience.  They also played amazing music during the tasting, including some selections from the Oh Brother, Where Art Thou? soundtrack, most of it being a fusion of mellow bluegrass and jazz.   For a truly excellent outdoor wine tasting experience, visit the fine people at Carhartt.  And, don’t forget to pay homage to the giant metal fish in front.

Carhartt Tasting Room and Winery

2990A Grand Avenue, Los Olivos, CA 93441

805 693-5100

Hours:  Tasting room open daily 11:00 to 5:00.

Tercero Wines Tasting Room

Tasting Room – Photo courtesy of Tercero Wines.

When I was in high school, science and math were not my strong suits – so much so that I put off taking biology class until senior year.  Which, in retrospect, was a good thing.  (I got to be the cool senior in a room full of sophomores).  On my recent wine tasting excursion in Los Olivos, I was instantly transported back to Mr. O’geene’s bio class when I entered the Tercero Wines Tasting Room., which has a distinctive scientific vibe.

My friends and I actually stumbled upon Tercero by accident – we were looking for a place to access wi-fi in Los Olivos, and the coffeehouse we’d been directed to was closed.  The friendly proprietor of Tercero, Larry Schaffer, invited us over to use his wi-fi and take in another tasting.  After a day of hopping from one vineyard to another, Tercero was the last stop, and the wines offered were delicious.  Larry and his wife, Christie, founded Tercero about 5 years ago, and their labs have been creating some amazing libations.  Here are some of my favorites:

  • 2010 Grenache Blanc – A crisp white wine with hints of pear.  Although I am more of a red fan, this was pretty tasty.
  • 2007 Watch Hill Grenache – A rich and bold red with deep berry flavors.  Unlike most grenaches, which are a blend of grenache and other grape varieties, this is %100 grenache grape.   For the discerning connoisseur of wine.
  • 2007 Thompson Vyd Syrah – A savory Rhone red.  The only word I can come up with is Superb.
  • 2007  Cuvee Christie – An enticing blend of grenache, syrah and mourvedre grapes.  Very flavorful.  I wonder if he named this after his wife?
  • 2007 The Climb – Without a doubt my favorite of all the wines here.  A sophisticated blend of syrah and petite syrah.  I could drink this ambrosial wine all day!   I restrained myself and only brought one bottle home.

Tercero is tucked away in a gray vintage-inspired building shared with a few other businesses.  Although the address is Alamo Pintado, the entrance is actually around the corner on San Marcos (there’s a sign, and it’s easy to spot)  Chrome metal stools, chalkboard walls (pictured above) ,chrome shelving and beakers filled with colorful concoctions help to achieve the laboratory feeling.  The swanky metal shelving is the Grundtal Towel Shelf from Ikea.

Numbers also play a major part in Feng Shui.  The word Tercero in Spanish means Third.  This number is highly significant to Larry and Christie.  Growing up, they were each the third child in their families.  They were married on the third, and they have three children together.  The address of the tasting room is also connected to the number 3.  815 times 3 is 2445.   Also 2 + 4 + 4 + 5 = 15,  divided by 5 makes 3.   The number three in Feng Shui signifies family, health and community cultivation – all of which can be connected easily to the production of wine, and the creation of this establishment itself by a husband and wife team.  The continued use of this number can add up to nothing but further success for Tercero.

Landscapes are an excellent feng shui choice for artwork, especially when there is an amount of depth to the picture.  Try to choose a landscape that is serene and peaceful,  such as sunset, forest path, or winery setting.  Avoid landscapes that are dark and destructive.  The photography of Tom Ives is an excellent choice for almost any environment.  His calming art captures all of the elements with his color choices and subject selection.  Three of this paintings for sale hang in the tasting room, and you can see more of his incredible work at

I liked Tercero so much that I joined their wine club, and plan on visiting them in Los Olivos a few times a year. I think I may have to open my bottle of The Climb tonight…

Tercero Wines

2445 Alamo Pintado Avenue, Suite 104 (the entrance is off of San Marcos)

Los Olivos, CA 93441

805  245-9584

Hours:  Friday – Monday Afternoons, 12:00 to 5:00.  Other days and times are available by appointment.