For The Madera Tribune
Andrew and Laurel Quady of Quady Winery celebrate their 45th harvest this year.
2020 marks 45 years since family owned Quady Winery of Madera crushed its first grapes. That first harvest in 1975 produced just over 1,600 cases of Zinfandel port wine and started Andrew and Laurel Quady down a storied path of sweet wine innovation and quality in a region of California that was then little known for quality wines, the Central Valley.
Andrew Quady’s initial career was as a chemical engineer involved in making pyrotechnic devices for the U.S. military. Shortly in, he had desires for something slightly less dangerous, but no less strenuous. His love for wine, paired with the hope of enjoying a rural lifestyle with his wife, Laurel, led Andrew back to school at UC Davis to pursue a career in winemaking.
Many veteran wine industry members and consumers know Andrew Quady for his original dessert wines, Essensia Orange Muscat, first released in 1981, and Elysium Black Muscat, released in 1983. Essensia and Elysium transformed industry and consumer perceptions of dessert wine, demonstrating that domestic fortified wines could succeed in the premium category.
“Essensia Orange Muscat captures the essence of the Orange Muscat grape grown in the Central Valley,” said Andrew, referring to the winemaking process involving skin contact.
In 1990, Quady Winery introduced a low alcohol frizzante Moscato called Electra and sales grew. Red Electra Moscato soon followed and is now Quady Winery’s top seller.
“Our Electra Moscatos have stolen the show at Quady and for good reason — they are so easy to love: light, refreshing, sweet, and incredibly aromatic,” Laurel Quady added.
In 1999 Quady broke into a new category with the introduction of Vya, a premium vermouth offered in three styles and sold both as an aperitif wine and as an essential ingredient in cocktails. Vya Vermouth makes great Manhattans.
Quady also makes port-style dessert wines from Portuguese varietals grown in Amador County, aptly named Starboard for their place of origin on the other side of the world.
Quady Winery is now pursuing a five-year plan towards an annual production goal of 300,000 9L cases while investing in additional tanks, grape contracts, and a new bottling line.
Quady Winery is known for its sweet and aperitif wines from varieties and in styles hard to find anywhere else. Quady’s wines are the products of over 40 years of expertise in Muscat winemaking and a partnership with expert Muscat grape growers in California’s Central Valley. Their wines are full of character: spicy and floral, fresh, fruity, and well balanced, Quady said.