Andrew and Laurel Quady left crowded southern California and their jobs in pyrotechnics and merchandising to pursue their dream: a non-urban way of life making wine. Returning to school, Andrew graduated with a Masters in Food Science- Enology from UC Davis and Laurel became a licensed CPA. In 1975, at the urging of friend Darrell Corti, they made their first port from Amador County Zinfandel at the now defunct Lodi Vintners where Andrew was working as assistant winemaker. In 1977 they settled in Madera in California’s Central Valley with Andrew working at Heublein, now Constellation Brands, where they built a small winery behind their country home and made port on evenings and weekends.
In 1980 they decided to add a fortified white dessert wine to their line. The wine, from the obscure “Orange Muscat” grape variety was named “Essensia” and became a major success. In 1983, opportunity knocked when they were offered a crop of Black Muscat grapes which became the first “Elysium”.
By 1984 the expanding business needed space and Andrew and Laurel needed help. They designed a unique new winery featured in Time Magazine and Architectural Digest and hired winemaker Michael Blaylock, a former Peace Corps Volunteer (Philippines) with degrees from San Jose State (BA Wildlife Zoology) and Fresno State (MS Chemistry/Enology), along with General Manager Cheryl Russell, and later assistant winemaker Darin Peterson also a Fresno State Enology graduate. With their enthusiasm and dedication the winery continued to grow, developing additional world renowned wines such as Starboard (our euphemism for port), Electra and Red Electra, VYA Extra Dry and Vya Sweet vermouth, Deviation and Palomino Fino.
In 1983 we produced 3,000 cases of mostly Essensia made from the Orange Muscat grape variety. Today we produce between 50,000 and 60,000 cases of wine each year of various varieties and employ over 20 dedicated people. Our commitment to quality and sustainable agriculture is evident in our success as a specialist in dessert and aperitif wines and in 2009 Quady Winery was voted best overall USA Wine Producer by the International Wine and Spirits Competition.