A Weekend in the Country: DAOU Winery Sojourn

A Weekend in the Country: DAOU Winery Sojourn

The road to SoCal’s local wine country is the El Camino Real, or Highway 101. Located 219 miles from Los Angeles,  Paso Robles is precisely the halfway point between Los Angeles and San Francisco. Paso Robles used to be a dusty pioneer town famous for its almonds, but that has all changed. A burgeoning wine country, it is home to over 200 wineries, 40,000 vineyard acres and many winegrape varieties, but primarily Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Zinfandel, Syrah, and Chardonnay. It is that rare combination of warm days and cool evenings that helps produce these wines. It should also be noted that the town El Paso de Robles (which means Pass of the oak trees) was co-founded by Kentucky outlaws Frank and Jesse James’ uncle Drury around 1869.

One of the finest among them is the family owned Daou Winery in the Adelaida District. The Daou brothers, Georges and Daniel started the winery in 2007, moving their life and fortune from San Diego to Paso Robles. The Daou Winery is beautifully set in the mountains at an altitude of 2,200 feet; rich with rolling hills, a faint hint of the Pacific 14 miles away, the winery enjoys some of the best climate and soil (calcareous clay) to produce a great Cabernet Sauvignon.

We meet Daniel Daou, a man passionate about his winery and wine. In fact, there are moments where is he so engaged in the science of winemaking you too want to live this life of juice, soil, rain, air, wood and glass. It becomes clear that winemaking is indeed a science as well as passion—so many elements must come together perfectly to produce a good harvest, a good year, a good wine.

Georges and Daniel Daou hail from Lebanon, by way of France. Their father, Joseph Daou, grew up in Beirut, in a modest, urban family. Joseph was 10 years old before his father, who grew up an orphan, was able to buy the family’s first bed. The prevailing culture of Joseph’s youth was one of genteel French colonialism—Lebanon having only gained its independence from France in 1943. In time, Joseph became a successful businessman, and Beirut would become known as “the Paris of the Middle East.”

Remarkably, the greatness of DAOU Mountain was foretold 40 years earlier when the property, then known as Hoffman Mountain Ranch, was hailed by California winemaking legend André Tchelistcheff as “a jewel of ecological elements.”

The mountain was first planted to grapes in the early 1960s by Dr. Stanley Hoffman and his wife Terry. To test his faith in the Adelaida District, Dr. Hoffman enlisted the input of Tchelistcheff, who was California’s foremost winemaking authority at the time.

Tchelistcheff was impressed with what he saw, and his seal of approval gave Dr. Hoffman further confidence to go forward. Hoffman Mountain Ranch released its first wine—a Cabernet Sauvignon—in 1972.

Dr. Hoffman was nothing if not ahead of his time, and that was ultimately the winery’s undoing. The market for his Paso Robles wines was outpaced by costs of running the winery, and he was forced to sell the winery in 1981. The land’s potential would remain untapped for more than two decades to follow.

As Dr. Hoffman once recalled about his first years in Paso Robles, “There were some Zinfandel growers in Paso, but nobody that I know of who wanted to grow French varietals like I did. We were the first. People were not encouraging. They said we were crazy.”

Fatefully, Georges and Daniel were met with similar skepticism when they arrived here with their stated intent to produce wines rivaling the world’s greatest.

Five years after acquiring the mountain and planting their vineyard, the Daou brothers were presented with an opportunity to purchase the adjacent property that included the old Hoffman Mountain Ranch winery facility. Their architect recommended that they raze the building and start over, but their respect for Dr. Hoffman’s legacy was too great. They decided to restore the building instead.

A year later, they held a ribbon cutting with two very special guests of honor: Stanley and Terry Hoffman. As one observer of that day wrote, “It’s not always easy to go home, especially if there are some broken dreams involved. But dreams delayed are not always dreams denied and sometimes you just have to wait awhile to see the work you started come to fruition.”

These and other stories are related with a quiet satisfaction that they did indeed take these mountains and produce some of the finest wines in the region.

WE’RE GOING TO A PARTY

After the winery tour we were invited to lunch at the winery restaurant. Cody Thomasson, Estate Chef, DAOU Family Estates serves a table of distinctly Lebanese fare—kabobs, mezze (Hummus, Muhammara, Bali Butternut, Castelvetrano Olive Tapenade, Spicy Whipped Feta, Tzatziki, Garlic Toum, Lime Zested Medjool Dates, Almonds & Pita Bread), an offering of cheese and charcuterie, lamb chops and of course the perfect sampling of wine, direct from the barrels. If you have never had wine from a barrel, it is a tasteful experience to be enjoyed in the cooler room temperatures—even the Cabernet is cool, and Daniel admits to liking his wine slightly on the cooler side. Indeed.

Later that night, a party, a soiree has been organized at the winery— This will be the 8th iteration of DAOU’S flagship Cabernet Sauvignon, Soul of a Lion. A wine that represents the family patriarch, Joseph Daou and the lessons of persistence, passion and courage he instilled in his sons during their childhood. Food, wine, friends and music, this is a night of celebration for the 8th reiteration of the wine. The music is Lebanese, the food is a mix of Middle eastern fruits, vegetables and lamb chops. The wine is DAOU, both  Soul of the Lion and other varieties—all incredible! We are atop a hill in the middle of Pasa Robles, so when we spot Twilight actor Taylor Lautner, it is a surprise. This of course, leads to a mental discussion about the nature of celebrity: you cannot go anywhere without people talking about you, circling about to attempt a hello, you are judged. As the night progresses, everyone gets to meet Taylor and he turns about to be exceptionally sweet about it. He ultimately joins his friends and everyone on the dance floor for the last dance song of the night (see video below).

Random Thoughts: winemaking is a business and a science—at times Daniel delved so deeply into soil texture, climate and the conditions needed to produce a great varietal. There is a quiet competition between Napa and Pasa Robles although the current notion is to keep PR as rural as it can remain despite the blossoming wine trade taking place. Asked where the next wine making region might be, all answered, Livermore, CA. People who work in the wine industry seem to genuinely enjoy it. Maeve Pesquera, Senior Vice President, DAOU Family Estates has likely told her story countless times, but it is clearly evident that she enjoys her job—and why not? Daniel Daou sports the best Prada shoes we have ever seen.

DAOU VINEYARDS + WINERY | PASO ROBLES

Address: 2777 Hidden Mountain Rd, Paso Robles, CA 93446

Appointments: daouvineyards.com
 
Phone: (805) 226-5460

 

Left to right: Daniel offers Zuke Oshiro some wine from the barrel; entrance to the winery restaurant; the spectacular view looking west from the winery; the kabobs have been served.

THE SOUL OF A LION

THE WINE | Soul of a Lion is DAOU’s crown jewel, named after the father of Georges and Daniel Daou. The 2017 vintage displays richness, elegance and balance—the hallmarks of a superb growing season that allowed for extended ripening. A deep, complex bouquet reveals notes of cassis, black currant, licorice, incense, ripe plum and vanilla. The palate is full-bodied, layered and complex, while smooth, silky tannins lead to a persistent finish. It is impossible to drink this wine without respecting the great structure that will allow it to evolve nicely for years to come. In short, this is a blockbuster vintage that showcases the innate power of DAOU Mountain.

THE VINTAGE | The 2017 growing season was preceded by one of the wettest winters in recent memory, with nearly 35 inches of rain recorded on DAOU Mountain. The vines were energized by the much-needed moisture, setting one of our best crops yet. The weather remained steady from spring through mid-summer. However, a heat wave descended upon California during the third week of August. Many vintners chose to harvest immediately, but we made the brave decision to allow the fruit to hang. As we suspected, a cooling trend snapped the heat wave ensuring that the fruit achieved optimal ripeness. The result was our latest harvest ever on the mountain, reaching all the way into the third week of October. The long hang time yielded the deepest color and concentration we have seen from our estate. The tannins are silky and beautifully integrated. We feel that the 2017 wines will rival the best ever from DAOU Mountain.

DAOU VINEYARDS & WINERY | Family owned and operated, DAOU Vineyards & Winery is committed to producing collectible, world-class wines to rival the most respected appellations in the world. DAOU Mountain’s combination of remarkable geology, microclimate, a 2,200-foot elevation, and steep slopes gives it a terroir described as “a jewel of ecological elements.” As stewards of this beautiful terroir, our goal is to make fine wines that honestly and accurately reflect the potential of the estate.

VARIETALS | 79 % Cabernet Sauvignon, 14% Cabernet Franc, 9% Petit Verdot BARREL AGING | 22 months in 100% new French oak ALCOHOL | 14.7%

Wine Education

There’s more to wine than just drinking it—here are some interesting facts:

A single bottle contains:

750 ml of wine which is 25.6 ounces made from 2.4 pounds of grapes (39.0 oz) and is enough for four to five glasses.

A case of wine is a dozen 750 ml bottles or 307.2 ounces total, which comes from 30 pounds of grapes.

One standard oak barrel of wine holds 295 bottles of wine (or 59 glasses) made from 740 pounds of grapes which works out to approximately to 24 cases wine.

An acre of vineyard land can give the grower five tons of grapes (greatly depending on variety, farming practices and location) which will give you 797 gallons of juice or thirteen and half barrels, which is close to four thousand bottles of wine.

Valentine’s Night!

Valentine’s Night!

Chocolate, gifts, an exchange of cards—it must be Saint Valentine’s Day. But wait—this festive holiday has some dark roots: Historians believe Valentine’s Day actually began in Ancient Rome as a pagan fertility festival called Lupercalia, with the celebration dedicated to Faunus, the Roman god of agriculture, and Roman founders Romulus and Remus. According to History.com, the day was celebrated with activities that included sacrificing animals and whipping women with animal skins until they bled, signifying their fertility. But that’s all behind us now, we even buy our pets a Valentine’s treat! For most us, we head out for a dining adventure to share with the one we love. We have assembled a small selection of our favorite places this day or any other for your consideration.

Tempo Cantina

 

Modern Mexican Cuisine. Pictured here is MAYAN GRILLED SALMON served w/ saffron rice, roasted veggie, grilled pineapple, lime crema, avocado purée, achiote sauce! There’s enough goodness here to make any heart melt.

Address: 12056 Paramount Blvd, Downey, CA 90242
Reservations: opentable.com
Phone: (562) 321-9600

The Stanton DTLA

The former Bottlerock location is now home to The Stanton DTLA. A corner side seat to the activities on Hope and 11st, The Stanton offers up some great vegetarian dishes such a Brussel Sprout salad and Housemade Meatballs. Dinner entrees range from Lobster Linguine to Lamb Bolognese. With an excellent wine selection at hand, the appropriate romantic lighting, and seating both in and out, this is the place for a romantic downtown Valentine.

 

The Stanton DTLA

1091 S Hope St. Los Angeles CA 90015

https://www.thestantondtla.com/

[email protected]

 

 

Off Vine

Since 1989, Off Vine has been serving a wide range of hearty California favorites with regional American influences. Yes, the food is very good, but let’s recollect for a moment—this is located in the heart of Hollywood, in what is now a bustling area of many restaurants, shops, theaters and bars. Rendezvous by the fireplace, enjoy a comforting,  hearty meal in the vine-wrapped outdoor garden, or perhaps a celebration with all your friends and family in one of their private rooms. If you are looking for that special zone romantic, this is one of your best bets.

 

VALENTINE’S DINNER AT OFF VINE

Date: 2020-02-14
Time: 5:30 pm-9:00 pm
Price: $ 80.00 (Per Person, Not including Tax, Gratuity & Beverage)
To reserve your exclusive seat please call: (323) 962-1900

The Art of Wood

The Art of Wood

The art of making furniture is universal—it is a craft, an ancient craft that requires patience and a profound knowledge of wood. Japan is nearly 70% forest, which has provided an ample supply—dating back 1,300 years. Perched in the retail epicenter of Hollywood and Highland is Japan House, an oasis of creativity and calm.  It is there that we found this current exhibit with a display of beautiful woodwork seen here for the first time.

JAPAN HOUSE Los Angeles is proud to announce the exhibition “HIDA | A Woodwork Tradition in the Making,” which brings Japanese woodcraft from its spiritual homeland of the Hida region of Japan to Los Angeles for the first time. On display from January 16 through April 12, the exhibition invites visitors to discover the legendary craftsmen of Hida and their design legacy today, embodied in the work of century-old furniture maker Hida Sangyo Co., Ltd. Select items on display include a chair designed by the late Sori Yanagi utilizing wood-bending techniques native to Hida and part of the permanent collection at the Victoria & Albert Museum, London; and a branch spoon created by Ibuki Kaiyama utilizing a traditional chiseling technique.

Located in the center of the country in Gifu Prefecture, the Hida region became known for its woodworking traditions and skilled artisans 1,300 years ago. This fame continues today through innovative design and sustainable use of the region’s forests, particularly the iconic cedar tree, in everything from contemporary furniture to fragrant aroma oils.

The furniture maker Hida Sangyo Co., Ltd was founded in the region in 1920, and for nearly a hundred years has prioritized four core principles: Forest, Human, Time and Craft. Engaging all five senses, the exhibition guides visitors to experience these themes for themselves: coexistence with the forest (Forest), consideration of inherent human needs (Human), a legacy cultivated through time (Time), and a continuous refinement of craft (Craft). Displays will highlight regional specialties such as Hida-shunkei lacquerware, Ichii wood carving (Ichii itto bori — Japanese yew carving), and mageki (wood bending), as well as materials, prototypes, and products developed by Hida Sangyo and its frequent collaborations with some of the world’s top contemporary designers, such as Enzo Mari and Sori Yanagi.

The exhibition will also spotlight where tradition meets technology and innovation, such as Hida Sangyo’s revolutionary wood compression techniques with cedar. This sustainable domestic wood is typically too soft for long-lasting furniture, but in the Hida Sangyo factory, cedar is compressed and strengthened for use in durable chairs, tables and flooring imbued with cedar’s subtle scent. As a business leader, Hida Sangyo’s success has also influenced a community of other manufacturers to stay in, or migrate to, the Hida area, furthering the time-honored mastery of the region’s woodcraft.

Exhibition Credits:
Presented by JAPAN HOUSE Los Angeles
Exhibition contents provided by Hida Sangyo Co., Ltd.
Exhibition and Graphic Design | Daigo Daikoku
Planning and Production Assistance | Intertrend Communications, Inc.
Content Contribution | Historical Archive Office, Takayama City Board of Education

For more information on all programs, please visit https://www.japanhouse.jp/losangeles

Photography by Takaya Sakano

Art Comes to LA!

Art Comes to LA!

Superfine! Art Fair is returning to the Magic Box @ The Reef in DTLA for its second LA edition, February 6 – 9, 2020. Throughout the four-day fair, visitors will have the unique opportunity to meet and connect directly with 60+ top local and international artists, collectives, and galleries.

In true Superfine! fashion, visitors will be greeted by a welcoming environment, affordable price points (works starting as low as $100!), and the crème de la crème of emerging contemporary artists. Be ahead of the curve and not only discover, but take home tomorrow’s top artists today.

In addition to thousands of affordable, original works of art starting at just $100, explore the LA fair program and experience experimental performance art, cutting-edge art films, and innovative installation art.

for tickets and event information:

https://superfine.world/superfine-la-art-fair-tickets

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