2023 OWP Person of the Year: Herb Quady

Quady North, Barrel 42 and Applegate Vineyard Management

Herb Quady, the Oregon Wine Press 2023 Person of the Year, standing next to the Mule, a 2004 Kawasaki that continues to run great.##Photo By John Valis, courtesy of the Oregon Wine Board
Looking Southwest from the Upper Syrah block in 16-acre Mae’s Vineyard. Nearby, Eevee’s Vineyard is 8 acres and grapevines grown at both sites are organically farmed and LIVE-certified.##Photo By John Valis, courtesy of the Oregon Wine Board
Herb Quady holding daughter Serafina Eevee,taken in 2012, when she was one and a half years old. ##Photo provided by Quady North
Herb Quady working in the first Barrel 42 winery facility, located in Medford at 42 W. Stewart Ave. Taken in 2015 when Quady was 40 years old, it was originally a pear packing plant.##Photo provided by Quady North
Barrel 42 co-founders (from left), Brian Gruber, Nichole Schulte and Herb Quady##Photo byMaureen Battistella
Herb Quady harvesting Cabernet Franc at Mae’s Vineyard with 12-year old daughters Trine and Margaux.##Photo provided by Quady North
The new building, overlooking dormant winter greapevines, contains Quady North s tasting room plus a shared winemaking space occupied by Barrel 42 and Quady North.##Photo provided by Quady North
Owner and winemaker Herb Quady relaxing with a beer.##Photo By John Valis, courtesy of the Oregon Wine Board
Upgrade your  arsenal  of wine. Quady North produces wine-in-a-box that can be loaded into a custom ammo can.##Photo By Neil Ferguson, courtesy of the Oregon Wine Board
Newly harvested red wine grapes being processed at Quady North s winery. ##Photo provided by Quady North
The spacious new Quady North and Barrel 42 winery facility is 24,000 square feet and live-certified with production space for 40,000 cases.  ##Photo By John Valis, courtesy of the Oregon Wine Board


"I once believed the best I could do was to figure out one new thing. ‘Hey, I added to the overall knowledge. Boom! That would be enough.’ Contribute one little idea to fulfill my part. If I could do that while also acting with integrity, being a good steward and developing a respectable reputation… I’d be happy. And, hopefully, along the way, be able to pay the bills.”

Combine these qualities with creativity and an instinctive ability to orchestrate numerous wine and industry projects, all while nurturing relationships and simultaneously walking an integral path. This dedication earned Herb Quady Oregon Wine Press’ 2023 Person of the Year. Congratulations, Herb, on accomplishing more than “one new thing!”

History - The Real Story

I recently met with Quady at his new black and red, industrial-chic Quady North winery and tasting room in Southern Oregon’s Applegate Valley. When I laughingly told him I wanted his history, not the internet version, he replied, “Oh, you want the real story?”

And so, our conversation began.

“Family history is important because it provides perspective. My sister and I spent our childhood in the family winery in Madera, California. We grew up while our parents, Andrew and Laurel, were building and growing Quady Winery. I remember hanging out while they labeled and sealed bottles and my dad built new facilities. Generally speaking, I watched the business expand over time. During my childhood, the winery developed into a national and internationally distributed brand. I saw that– and feel it gave me a lot of context.”

Quady Winery is renowned for its Moscato, Port-style and aperitif vermouth wines. A rare Orange Muscat forms the foundation of many of their wines. Herb Quady retains a presence within his family company as northwest regional sales manager, ensuring bottles of his parents’ wines are available at various locations in Southern Oregon, including his winery.

During college, Quady studied politics at U.C. Santa Cruz, but various careers in the field “didn’t appeal to me.” He says, “It seemed to require quite a lot of moral flexibility… and I wasn’t prepared to compromise my integrity– even if I felt the agenda was good. I began thinking maybe I should return to the family business and continue the legacy. So, I started researching wine.”

He reflects, “In my heart, I thought when I told my dad, he’d say, ‘Oh, that sounds wonderful Herb. Come on home and I’ll teach you everything I know.’”

Instead, Quady relates laughing, his father’s response was, “Well, I’m not sure that’s a good idea.” But I persisted. He finally suggested I work for someone else to see what it’s really like.”

His father recommended checking with Bonny Doon Vineyard because of his proximity. Quady was hired. He started in production, working with winemaker Eric Sussman, “in an old Brussels sprouts warehouse on the west side of Santa Cruz, surrounded by surfboard shops. I was 22 years old.”

Because Quady spoke some Spanish, he became a connection between groups. “I was very enthusiastic and did whatever needed doing. It was a side of the wine business I hadn’t experienced. We did a lot of experimentation. That made me fall in love with winemaking as a process.” Quady says, “My two mentors were Eric Sussman and Randall Grahm– who’s a legend. Eric is a super soulful winemaker and always said, that no matter what, care about the details. And Randall is dedicated to having fun with wine. Those two people instilled in me an attitude about wine that few people had.”

Quady earned his political science degree and then studied enology and viticulture at Fresno State while working at his family’s Madera winery. Eventually, “in 2003, through various channels, I found my way north to Oregon. I began working in the Applegate Valley for Bill and Barbara Steele who were just starting Cowhorn Vineyard. My wife Meloney and I fell in love with the area,” he says, “I’m a romantic and had read a lot about the wine industry. I was intrigued by the idea that this region’s wine story was not yet written.”

In 2004, Quady was hired by Troon Vineyard as assistant viticulturist. “However, they had 10 acres and no actual viticulturist,” he says smiling, “it was a very junior position. When the winemaker left, I got promoted. I credit Chris Martin for taking a chance on me. After making some overly tannic wines, I learned a new winemaking approach, not the California style, but to be gentler, which I’ve since kept.”

In Concert with Quady North

“Things happen in parallel,” Quady says, when, in 2005, his family purchased 100 acres in the Applegate Valley. The land, originally a turkey farm, but most recently was an illegal motor cross track. In the first year, they ripped out the track and restored the house. The next year they hired excavators– the same people who had built the track– to move all the dirt back. They began planting, starting with Viognier, Cabernet Franc (uncommon at the time) and their flagship grape, Syrah.

Herb was working full-time at Troon, so his parents did all the surveying and mapped out the vineyard while his in-laws built fences and installed endposts. They hired Paul Skinner from Napa for some unconventional planting guidance. Quady explains, “He had a system of analyzing vineyards for potential vigor. You then create a map with homogenous blocks based on how vigorous the vines would be. Consider the soil depth, nutrients, access to water… that’s how we laid out our vineyard.”

Before heading to work at Troon, Quady and his mother-in-law, Consuelo, would spend a couple hours working with the crews, planting and developing the vineyard. Meloney performed compliance and payroll. Between them, all the vineyard was planted. Unexpectedly, this turned into a business: Applegate Vineyard Management. Managing other vineyards Quady says, “became an important part of the overall grid. One of the most rewarding aspects of the company has been developing vineyards from scratch. Those sites are now making fantastic wines. We were also able to introduce many talented winemakers from up north to these vineyards. This encouraged winemakers to develop programs using Southern Oregon fruit.”

The Quady North tasting room opened in 2009, shortly after the economy crashed and all the Jacksonville businesses surrounding them closed. “It was a tough gig initially,” he says, “Meloney set it all up and managed it. Eventually, it became good,” Quady adds. It closed in 2022 with the opening of the Applegate Valley facility.

Quady adds, “We grew significantly in 2023, producing 10,000 cases. Many of these bottles will make their way to markets seeing Southern Oregon wines for the first time.”

Style & Brand

“Packaging is important,” Quady states, “and communicates who you are to the consumer. I had a bunch of ideas for our brand, and Meloney, an artist by trade, would explore them… but I’d say no. One of her interests is traditional American tattoo art, and she taught me the symbols and their meanings. She designed the Quady North logo with the nautical star. The sparrow on the Viognier was our first label in 2007 and represents both a new venture and a returning home, symbolic of what we were doing. The tattoo style became a theme we could riff on.”

American tattoo art emphasizes the vintage style from the 1930s featuring highly saturated colors and a 2-D drawing style with simple, bold black outlines. Nautical stars are iconic symbols of the American design. Quady North wine labels are beautiful, classic, timeless pieces of artwork, pulled from history and symbolism, yet relevant to today’s tattoo culture. Meloney’s labels include a touch of whimsy and creativity Quady describes as “calculated irreverence.”

“When we were looking for a way to make our wine available by the glass, Meloney came up with the idea of using the ammo can.” Painted matte black with the Quady North logo in vivid red, it was an innovative style of bag-in-box, one with delicious wine inside.

“Winemaking should be about stories,” he says. “We felt ‘reserve’ wine was too cliché. What’s another name? Our full-bodied Cabernet Franc blend became Arsenal (big guns) and our well-loved white Rhône blend of Marsanne, Roussanne, Viognier, plus Grenache Blanc is called Pistoleta (little guns). The more you know us… the more you learn the stories.”

Barrel 42 − Custom Crush

The name Barrel 42, pays homage to the supercomputer’s answer of 42 as the “Ultimate Question of Life, the Universe, and Everything” in Douglas Adams’ science fiction novel, The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy, along with the Earth’s parallel 42° north spanning Southern Oregon. In 2014, the ensemble of Brian Gruber, Nichole Schulte and Quady founded their custom crush facility Barrel 42. Quady had hired both Gruber and Schulte while making wine at Troon Vineyard. Once again, Quady explains, “We had to do everything simultaneously: line up investments, secure borrowing, find customers and, at the same time, the right location.” Conducting projects simultaneously represents one of Quady’s gifts. The original custom crush facility was centered in an old pear processing plant in Medford. Hoping to process 75 tons of grapes the first year, they ended up producing twice their goal. When Quady’s new Applegate Valley facility opened, Barrel 42 moved there.

Recycling & Environmental Sustainability

Quady North’s estate vineyards are all organic and LIVE certified. But Quady didn’t stop there.

In 2022, he began recycling stretch film, often found wrapped around cases of wine on pallets to better secure loads. Today, Barrel 42 is the regional stretch wrap collection hub, sending it to a recycling facility in the Willamette Valley. In 2023, they sent 30 cubic yards for recycling. Within the next few years, their goal is to reach 100 yards.

“We plan to continue to grow our wine production in alternative packaging, including cans, bag-in-box and kegs, all with much lower carbon footprints than glass,” Quady explains. “In 2024, we’ll be a first-wave adopter with Revino, Oregon’s first reusable wine bottling company. The program allows consumers to return bottles through normal recycling channels where they’ll be sorted and returned to Revino. Each wine bottle is expected to last for 10 refills.”

Recently, two acres on the Applegate site were selected as a Monarch butterfly and pollinator habitat by Pollinator Partnership. It will be planted with native host species to attract and encourage the natural eco-cycle of flora and fauna.

Maestro to the Vines

Quady’s reaction to being named Oregon Wine Press person of the year was, “Very humbled. One really important thing– there’s nothing that I’ve accomplished by myself. I’m lucky enough to be surrounded by a lot of really good people, for a very long time. They have believed in what I’m trying to do, generously helping to make anything I’ve ever done possible.”

“But,” I point out, “There is an art to finding those individuals, the best to work well with.”

Softly, Quady replies, “If you do a good job and treat people well, then, luckily, they tend to appear and stay.”

Quite simply, Herb Quady excels at conducting multiple compositions that produce harmonious flavors, favors and relationships– enriching the wine industry with complexity and creativity. He is, without a doubt, a maestro to the vines.

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