Hard work pays off. Not many people I know work harder than wine producers - remember wine stems from the ground up. Planting vines, harvesting grapes, building a winery, making great wine, and selling product is truly a labor of love.
There are literally thousands of wineries around the world yet only a small percentage are considered iconic, each being itself unique. Enter DAOU Vineyards and Winery, located in Paso Robles, a premier wine region located in California halfway between San Francisco and Los Angeles - the Central Coast, home of Big Sur and Hearst Castle. An area once known primarily for cattle ranches and grain fields is now the third largest and fastest growing wine region in the state with over 200 wineries.
The region is on a mission to surpass the Napa Valley as the premier growing region for Cabernet Sauvignon in California. Paso Robles has an area of cultivation that could exceed double the area of Napa and has a unique terroir with an abundance of soil types, including rare forms of limestone. With its location so close to the Pacific, there are numerous microclimates and notable day-to-night temperature variations -- a 50-degree swing in one day is not unusual. The area also has a long growing season, which contributes to producing premium and ultra-premium wines.
All these elements were perfect for brothers Daniel and Georges Daou when they set out looking for a special place to build their legacy in making the finest wines, especially first growth Cabernet Sauvignon. The brothers were born in Lebanon but left for France during the country’s civil - where they learned to appreciate fine wine. They came to the U.S. and studied engineering at the University of California. Afterwards Daniel and Georges started DAOU Systems, a software company. The company was sold and the brothers decided it was time to be stewards of the land by creating an oasis for wine.
In 2007, DAOU Vineyards & Winery began. It is a family owned and operated estate winery. The winery was built in a Spanish Colonial style with a tower that houses a rare 1740 Spanish Mission Bell imported from Madrid which you can see on their label. The tasting room is modern and spacious with amazing views overlooking the vineyards. Just this year, they purchased a well-known property (Centrally Grown) located on the ocean in Cambria, a quintessential art community, where they will have a tasting room, restaurant, and hold special events.
The brothers work very closely together and have a strong bond. Daniel Daou is in charge of winemaking and Georges Daou oversees marketing. The iconic DAOU Mountain (a nickname given for the former Hoffman Ranch) sits on 212 acres of beautiful rugged terrain in west Paso Robles, in the Adelaida District, just 14 miles from the ocean. At 2,200 feet above sea level DAOU is the highest elevation vineyard in Paso Robles. The vineyards are planted with Cabernet Sauvignon along with other Bordeaux grapes as well as some Burgundy and Rhone varietals. The vineyards are Sip Certified (Sustainability in Practice), a program that guarantees superb, sustainable wines, healthy vineyards, and the well-being of its workers.DAOU Mountain is home to an extraordinary well balanced rich wines that you must taste.
There are three tiers of DAOU wines: the Paso Robles Collection from top local vineyards is made by using the same techniques and high standards as their reserve and estate wines; the Reserve Collection from premium grapes sourced from DAOU Mountain along with select Paso Robles vineyards combined with divine results; and the Estate Collection from the finest vineyard blocks on DAOU Mountain expressing their mission for first growth Cabernet Sauvignon.
Both the 2017 DAOU Cabernet Sauvignon from the Paso Robles Collection and 2016 Cabernet Sauvignon Reserve were beautiful examples of the grape with lots of delicious dark fruit flavors. A very special treat was the 2015 Soul of the Lion, from the Estate Collection, their top wine made from 76% Cabernet Sauvignon, 13% Cabernet Franc, and 11% Petit Verdot - dark and luscious with blackberry, black currant and cocoa characteristics.
Then along comes Pessimist, an outstanding Red Blend which I recently tasted - a delightful easy to drink wine to enjoy. For whites, the 2017 DAOU Chardonnay reminded me of a French made Crème Brulee, creamy and buttery with a long lasting mouthfeel.
DAOU wines are available in New Hampshire. Certain ones are only available through their website, some by allocation. daouvineyards.com
If you are planning a visit to Paso Robles or would like more information on the region, please feel free to contact me or the Paso Robles Wine Alliance. pasowine.com
JoAnn Actis-Grande is the Wine Editor for Taste of the Seacoast, her wine & travel articles have been featured in Coastal Home Magazine, Local Wine Events.com, and TheFiftyBest.com. She also writes a weekly column “Let’s Talk Wine” for Seacoast Media Group. Contact her through Wine Jag Journeys.