How appropriate that I get to write about PS I Love You and Petite Sirah on Valentine’s day.

Years ago, when I was loving the architecture of Carl Doumani’s Quixote Winery, in a meeting we had set up for an interview, we had finished chatting and he gifted his time-worn Hundertwasser book to me. I was aghast, to say the least. A treasure of this sort and to have it change hands so quickly? I’ve treasured the book ever since. When he gave it to me, I wrote, When Art Becomes Architecture ~ Friedensreich Hundertwasser & Quixote Winery.

Carl Doumani is a man who has surrounded himself with art, from his external landscape, to his winery, to the walls within his wine company, to his office that’s tastefully spilling over. His love of art is easily evident… No words have to be spoken, as art always speaks for itself. I guess that’s why when I wanted to know about Quixote Winery’s architecture, Carl just gave me his personal copy of Hundertwasser. I wasn’t comfortable taking it as a gift, because he’s obviously loved this book for a long time; but he insisted, and so it sits here before me as my treasure.

It’s still right here in front of me, as I write this story.

[Wine glasses photo courtesy of Kelsey Knight on Unsplash]

While Quixote is no longer Carl’s, just as his Stags’ Leap Winery passed into new hands, the one thing that he’ll never be able to walk away from is his name. If you really know your Petite Sirahs, you already know that Carl Doumani is one of the most celebrated Petite Sirah masters on the face of the earth.

In fact, when I began PS I Love You, Gerald D. Boyd (a retired wine writer with a very famous pen) told me, “if you can’t get Stag’s Leap Winery as a member, PS I Love You will never be anything.” So, I went after Stags’ Leaps winemaker Robert Brittan, not even knowing Carl Doumani at the time. Poor Robert… When he wanted to meet for “lunch,” I said, “Robert, I don’t need lunch, I need Stags’ Leap as a member.” Robert acquiesced, and Stags’ Leap has been a great member for many years now. I was a bit of a pest with Robert, I’ll admit. He’s forgiven me.

Today, it’s important to note that Carl Doumani is now in his third winery incarnation, called ¿Como No?

Carl has been a fixture in the Napa Valley since he founded Stags’ Leap Winery almost 50 years ago. When he sold it to Beringer Wine Estates in 1997, he kept land next door and built a small vineyard and winery called “Quixote.” In 2014 he sold once again, but kept one last parcel for his family — the land directly below the Stags’ Leap Palisades — to make a final tribute to his lifelong muse, Petite Syrah. Thus ¿Como No? was born. And at 80, why not? 

So, the phone rang the other day. I picked it up while it was ringing, with the name “Carl Doumani” showing. “Really,” I thought, with raised eyebrows. I answered, like I always do. “Hello, this is Jo Diaz.” I heard, “JO!” in his amiable, rapscallion voice. I answered “CARL!” trying to mimic what I had just heard. We both laughed effusively, and then got down to Petite business.

We talked about the upcoming Petite Masters event on March 18, from 1:00 to 4:00 p.m., at the Culinary Institute of America’s Copia facility in Napa. This is one event that I haven’t organized. PS I Love You champions Dave Pramuk (Robert Biale Vineyards) and Stephanie Douglas (Aratas Wines) have been quietly working with the CIA behind the scenes to bring consumers an outstanding Petite event. We once had a “Masters of Petite Sirah” night at Markham. This new one is not to be confused with the one we had, because we won’t be purposefully tasting aged Petite Sirahs, per se. This one is going to be for current vintages. Here are the details.



“Petite Masters” –  An Exploration of Petite Sirah

Sunday, March 18, 2018

1:00 p.m. to 4:00 p.m.

The Culinary Institute of America (CIA) at Copia, 500 First St., Napa, CA

Once I gave Carl our current story, we talked about what it’s going to take to get people to better understand Petite. I told him that Petite is beginning to be talked about as an affordable age-worthy wine. As Napa Cabs escalate in price, people are finding their way to another very age-worth red wine, and it’s turning out to be Petite.

[This image is from Carl’s Doumani’s Como No Website, and it’s here for a reason… Keep on reading.]

Then, we talked about food… food and wine, most especially, and that there would be appetizers passed. He had his ideas for what would work well, and before I knew it he offered to donate many legs of lamb (four figures worth), but it HAD to be grilled, not cooked in an oven and baked. “It has to be rustic and it’ll be scrumptious. People need to know how delicious Petite Sirah is, when it’s paired with grilled meats. And, lamb is the best. Get a leg of lamb, and these people are going to love it! I can write a check to you right now for it!” I felt like I was on a run away horse, because it was so exciting, I wasn’t holding any reins, and I had to get back to the stable ASAP. It was quite a large donation, so I told him to hang onto the check and I’d pass it through the CIA, first, as they already have their menu. (Protocol)

[PHOTO margouillat]

The response from Mariam Ahmed, at the CIA:

We can certainly accommodate this request. We will incorporate it into our menu for that day, and will have a culinary station in addition to passing the food.  We have our beautiful Hestan grill that we can use.

Done… At this point, ticket sales for the Panel are SOLD OUT.

Ticket sales for the walk-around tasting have been reduced to $30.00 per each.

To all of you Petite Sriah lovers, this one’s for you!