Restaurant Review: Yamashiro in Hollywood

Restaurant Review: Yamashiro in Hollywood

Yamashiro

Dining with a view

Living in Southern California, it’s easy to lose sight of the thing called Hollywood—for those in the know, it’s not a place, its a street, not a pretty street either. Film studios are in fact, spread out across the area, only one in actual Hollywood—”and yet, the notion remains—”the idea of Hollywood, the history of a town, like any town, that became larger than its reality through shear imagination and luck. Welcome to Hollywood! The landmarks are many: the Sign, the Chinese Theater, The Walk of Fame, The Griffith Observatory, The shapely Hollywood Bowl. There are even some iconic restaurants, Musso & Frank Grill, Pinks, The Frolic Room and of course, Yamashiro. Perched on a hilltop in Hollywood, Yamashiro is a remnant of another time, yet vital to the survival of that idea we call Hollywood. Built in 1911, it has been featured in many Hollywood films and Huell Howser paid a visit in 2001. It has its stories, most notably, the ghost of a weeping woman, who haunts the bridal room and whose silhouette has reportedly been seen in the upstairs windows. In 1955, director and producer Fayette Thomas Moore committed suicide in his car outside the restaurant, and if that’s not enough, the ashes of previous owner Thomas O. Glover and his wife are buried in the inner courtyard. It should also be noted that Bonanza actor Pernell Roberts actually owned the property turning it into apartments in the 50s. It is a large area, and derives its names from a Japanese word that in this case means “mountain castle”. There are layers: a large golden Buddha (600 years old), a pool, a terrace, rounding walks with a stunning vistas are to be found and enjoyed here. This is quite unlike any place in Hollywood. It is a restaurant, a restaurant in the time of social distancing, a restaurant lucky enough to have always had outdoor dining, and is currently thriving. It has changed hands more often than a manicurist at rush hour, but its essence has remained. In August 2012, the Yamashiro Historic District was added to the National Register of Historic Places. According to the National Park Service, the Yamashiro Historic District includes “nine contributing buildings, sites, and structures on the estate property.” All good news.

So it was on a warm, late August night, the trip up the hill, past the the Magic Castle, the other side of the famed Art Deco complex, High Tower, we find ourselves at Yamashiro. It is near sundown, dusk, and the lights of the city emerge like lights on water, shimmering in the twilight. You can walk though the gardens of the restaurant, visit the very large, golden Lucky Buddha. We are admonished to not sit on Buddha, but he may receive our coin and wishes. People dining create an arc southern arc of the restaurant; it is a romantic hotspot for couples. We are seated in the garden area which has been used in many a Hollywood film, notably Memoirs of a Geisha. When asked about celebrities, we were told that Jennifer Lopez frequents as do a host of other celebrities who enjoy a rare, private dining experience in a romantic setting.

The drinks at Yamashiro are unique. One can experience Double Happiness, which is a drink composed of Tequila, Mezcal, pineapple, Rhubarb syrup, Lime, absinthe bitters. Exotic? Yes, Appetizers served run an interesting gamut of Sushi pizza and mango pureed Crab Cakes. Yamashiro recently welcomed a new executive chef, Valerri.  She welcomes us with a custom platter featuring ALL of the appetizers with SoCal spelled out—the menu is a curious fusion of foods and one senses it is Wagyu cheeseburger that is luring in the young. Coupled with a seating in the immaculately social distanced Zen Garden, we are served essentially everything from the kitchen. You know you’re in Hollywood as the occasional helicopter flies over. Everything is a complement to the previous serving. The sun has dipped into the West, the dark skies above Hollywood reveal a few stars—we are thankful for places like Yamashiro remaining to remind us of the legacy of a place, a place called Hollywood. 

Welcome to Yamashiro

The entrance to Yamashiro is a grand—the gardens await you

Good Luck Buddha

The ceremonial Summer House was placed just below the top of the hill as a resting place for guests who were climbing the stairs. The antique Buddha seated there became so popular with guests, a sign hangs from a post to warn visitors, “Do Not Climb On Buddha.” Buddha now faces west as a sign of good luck and prosperity.

Sushi Pizza

Sushi Pizza Yellow Tail, Salmon and Tuna Sashimi on a floured tortilla with truffled cream.

Our Special Platter

When the platter that had a handwritten SoCal on it arrived—we were happily surprised at how quickly Chef Vallerie turned it around.

Drinks Anyone?

With a wide variety of cocktails, wines and spirits, it’s easy to want to try them all—NOT recommended, but you take your pick of  from The Koan Collection which is Pisco, home-made grape chai cordial, chardonnay, lemon, pimiento bitters (for those who like drinks with information a koan is a paradoxical anecdote or riddle, used in Zen Buddhism to demonstrate the inadequacy of logical reasoning and to provoke enlightenment.) The drink featured here is Kobayashi  featuring El Tesoro Reposado Tequila, home-made Hibiscus cordial, lemon, ginger beer (“Kobayashi” is the secondary antagonist of the 1995 film The Usual Suspects. He is the enigmatic lawyer and right-hand man of the mysterious crime lord Keyser Söze). Someone is having fun naming these drinks.

Meet  Chef Vallerie

Born in her grandfather Ramiro Bayangos’ bakery in San Nicholas Philippines, Chef Vallerie learned the craft of baking the best breads and pastries in town. Raised by both her grandparents, she spent most of her childhood in the kitchen.No matter what profession Chef Vall took up, she was always drawn to the kitchen—from cooking to baking. They were always a great source of healing and therapy for both herself and her loved ones. Even when her daughter experienced the harshest forms of bullying growing up, Chef Vall’s macarons always brought a smile to her face.Seeing the joy a simple treat could bring to her daughter’s life, Chef Vall decided to enroll in professional training for baking and culinary, hoping to share her love and joy with others.What started as a way to bring joy to her family and loved ones, including volunteering at school and charities, Chef Vall’s love for the culinary arts has expanded to managing five restaurants, including leading as Executive Chef at Yamashiro Hollywood.As a mom and experienced chef, Chef Vallerie loves sharing her grandfather’s love through her cooking baking at home and professional. Especially her desserts Love Bites Pastries by Val, which was inspired by her grandfather’s treats he affectionately referred to as “my little love bites for you”.

“It may sound cheesy,” states Chef Vallerie, “but I really love my job! I feel like a kid in a candy store just staring in awe at everything this place has to offer.” The new menu features the traditional offerings and some delicious updated delights. “I have always drawn to the kitchen—from cooking to baking. This has always been a great source of healing and therapy for both myself and my loved ones,” further states Vallerie.Chef Vallerie is leading an expert kitchen staff along with a dedicated group of servers and mixologists that are taking extra precautions to make the dining experience memorable and safe, while the city continues to navigate the pandemic. As the facility has reopened, Chef Vallerie is proud to be a leading female executive chef at this iconic restaurant. Along with the new offering, Yamashiro boasts an outdoor dining experience with sweeping vistas of Hollywood and beyond that few restaurants can offer. “We are excited to enter this new chapter in the restaurant’s history,” states the Yamashiro ownership. “The Hollywood Hills and our existing patronage is in for a culinary treat.” Yamashiro has an extremely long history in the Los Angeles area as a leader in the high-end dining experience. “This announcement is the delicious delight that Los Angeles has been waiting for.”

The View from Here

Hollywood does not have the great views that cities like New York or San Francisco possess—it takes an extraordinary clean day to actually see the ocean, but we have our views. Yamashiro looks Southwest which gives you a view of downtown, central Hollywood and yes, on a clear day, the ocean.

Plan a visit

ADDRESS

1999 N Sycamore Ave, Los Angeles, CA 90068, USA
PHONE +1 323-466-5125

Yamashiro is open for dine-in service. Open for dinner every week from Tuesday to Sunday for dinner and also Brunch on Sunday. 

DINELA – SEPTEMBER 1 to 18
OUTDOOR SEATING AVAILABLE!

Niki Smart: A Woman of Many Voices

Niki Smart: A Woman of Many Voices

Not many book launches begin with the author singing one of their own compositions, but that’s how the Helter Shelter book launch kicked off last weekend. Author, songwriter, (and our very own managing editor here at SoCal Magazine), Niki Smart and friends delivered an enjoyable hour of song, discussion and a reading from her latest memoir, Helter Shelter. Moderated by award-winning journalist, editor, speechwriter and author, Gus Silber (who brought thought-provoking interview questions) and hosted by Stephen Francis, creator of the famous comic strip, Madam and Eve, the book launch touched upon a variety of topics including the process of writing autobiographical literature, songwriting versus writing a memoir, and the realities of working at a Crisis Intervention Shelter for emotionally disturbed teenagers which is where Helter Shelter takes place.

The good news is that the book launch was recorded. Feel free to take a look!

Lost Angeles: The Photography of  Paul Jasmin

Lost Angeles: The Photography of Paul Jasmin

It is with great pleasure that the Fahey/Klein Gallery announces the new exhibition dates for Paul Jasmin: Lost Angeles, a selection of works celebrating Jasmin’s long career and the gallery’s first exhibition by the legendary Los Angeles photographer.

Paul Jasmin’s photographs are a dreamy tableau that takes the viewer on a journey of seductive beauty and erotic ennui. Lost Angeles highlights the last 50 years Jasmin has spent photographing L.A.’s young dreamers. Jasmin’s images eloquently mirror the mythology of the city in the vulnerability and intangible cool of his subjects. There is life in his portraits of smiling girls and strong and frail men – and the never fading love for the Los Angeles street scenes. There is a nostalgic myth of a splendid and ideal aesthetic, stopped and caught forever.

“Each one reminds me of a time in my life, a place or a person,” Jasmin explains. “The old and the new.”

Paul Jasmin has had a long career as a fashion and art photographer. He was born in Helena, Montana and in 1954 left to begin an incredible journey that would take him to Paris, Morocco, New York, and eventually “the city of dreams”, Los Angeles. Paul had been an illustrator, a painter, and an actor before picking up a camera – at the urging of his friend, Bruce Weber.

Jasmin’s images of real and imagined dreamers evoke a sensual and glamorous ideal while firmly rooted in reality. His Editorial work appears in Vogue, Teen Vogue, GQ, Details, V Magazine, V Man, Vogue Hommes, W, Nylon, Interview, Mr. Porter, APC, Ron Herman, Bergdorf Goodman, Saks, and Nordstrom. Paul Jasmin lives and works in Los Angeles where he teaches at the Art Center College of Design in Pasadena, California. Paul Jasmin’s photography books include the much-acclaimed Hollywood Cowboy (2002) and its follow up, Lost Angeles (2004). In December 2010, Steidl/7l published Paul’s third book, California Dreaming.

September 24, 2020 through December 31, 2020

Opening Reception – *By Appointment Only*

Thursday, September 24, 2020, 10am – 5pm

Trending: WorkAways  Take Time Out while Staying Tuned In 

Trending: WorkAways Take Time Out while Staying Tuned In 

WorkAway (def):  1. The unique opportunity to take advantage of an extended travel window, working and playing remotely from a new destination/location. 2. The chance to learn/explore a new culture/way of life 3. Redefining your life balance in a new context.

Quarantine fatique is real and staycations are so last month. With many Californians working and learning remotely, a new concept, the “WorkAway” may provide welcome relief from unprecedented amounts of time at home.

Elevate Destinations, a luxury travel company with an altruistic footprint, is organizing stays for a month or more in vetted destinations that provide the services and systems clients and their families need to thrive.

Designed as a welcome hiatus from life at home, a WorkAway package includes custom accommodation, recreational touring and any educational and medical options that might be required. 24/7 concierge assistance is available upon request.

Elevate’s initial WorkAway destinations include Barbados and Mustique in the Caribbean, Belize, Croatia, Hawaii and Kenya.

“So many folks are yearning to get away but need guidance about health and safety protocols.  As a trusted travel advisor, we can provide that and introduce clients to a spectrum of possibilities as they look to take advantage of working and learning remotely,” says Dominique Callimanopulos, Founder of Elevate Destinations. “This is a unique window for many clients to immerse in a new culture or landscape.”

Since 2005, Elevate has facilitated bespoke trips to Africa, Asia, Central and South America and Europe and is drawing on its rich network of global travel partners to curate WorkAways for clients looking for a change of scene.

For more information, visit https://elevatedestinations.com/custom-trips/workaways/

Father’s Day

Father’s Day

In America, you would have to give Sonora Smart Dodd credit for the creation of the holiday that has come to be known as Fathers Day. The first Father’s Day was celebrated June 19, 1910, in Spokane, Washington. Although observance of the holiday faded in the 1920s over time, the idea of Father’s Day became popular and embraced across the nation. In 1916, President Woodrow Wilson sent a telegraph to Spokane praising Father’s Day services. William Jennings Bryan was another early admirer of the observance. In 1966, President Lyndon B. Johnson signed a presidential proclamation declaring the third Sunday of June as Father’s Day. In 1972, President Nixon established a permanent national observance of Father’s Day to be held on the 3rd Sunday of June each year. And here we are—ready to celebrate greats Dad’s everywhere. While going to his favorite steakhouse may not happen, giving the good gift can be a cause for celebration.

FOR THE DAD WHO LOVES MOVIES

Bang & Olufsen has the bar in luxurious cinematic experiences with the launch of the Beovision Harmony 88-inch TV – Bang & Olufsen’s most luxurious and immersive TV experience that features not only the world’s first 88-inch 8K OLED TV, but also the largest OLED screen ever created from LG Electronics. Beovision Harmony was first revealed at Milan Design Week in 2019, and presents a meaningful combination of art and technology, where the TV folds down into a sculptural shape when not in use. The two-meter-wide Beovision Harmony TV, with an 8K resolution, delivering four times more detail than 4K TV and 16 times more than HDTV, it is designed to deliver stunning picture quality, upgraded performance and artificial intelligence-enabled features that brings movies and sports to life like never before imagined. As for the sound, along with the pre-installed three-channel sound system and built-in dual subwoofer, the TV is compatible with Bang & Olufsen’s speaker program, allowing one to connect up to eight wireless Beolab speakers for true 7.1 surround sound. Colorways: Natural Oak Wood, Fabric, Smoked Oak and Walnut.

88” | $49,000

FOR THE DAD WHO LOVES AN ADVENTURE

With a refined, compact design, the new Beosound A1 offers the best music experience to date. Punchy, True360 omnidirectional sound makes this speaker the natural center of attention, while the Multipoint feature lets two devices connect and control the tunes. The durable Beosound A1 is waterproof and completely resistant to dust and sand. From the beach to the bathtub the music will keep playing wherever you bring it – or accidentally drop it. Pick a song, check the news, or organise your day without moving a finger. Beosound A1 now fully supports Alexa Voice Assistant. With music playing at normal listening volume, there’s no need to raise your voice to be heard. Colorways: Grey Mist and Black Anthracite.

FOR THE DAD WHO LOVES TO PARTY

Beoplay A9 is a one-point music system and contemporary design icon with powerful sound and customizable design. Beoplay A9 fills any room with detailed Bang & Olufsen Signature Sound thanks to its powerful 480-watt digital amplifier system. Built-in room adaptation adjusts the sound perfectly to its surroundings, so you can experience your music the way the artists intended. Like a piece of furniture can place Beoplay A9 in a corner, out in a room or hang it on a wall with the optional wall bracket – the built-in room adaption switch ensures that the your speaker always sounds as good as it looks. Colorways: Black, White, Anthracite/Dark Oak, Bronze Tone and Brass Tone.

FOR THE DAD WHO LOVES WORK AS MUCH AS HE DOES MUSIC

The over-ear headphones deliver Bang & Olufsen Signature Sound with advanced ANC. The acoustics are expertly tuned by our sound engineers to deliver rich and powerful listening experiences. Transparency Mode lets you hear your surroundings, when you need to for 25 hours of playtime. This time with a dedicated button for voice assistant (via Google Assistant). This feature lets you manage your life on the go. Simply press and hold the dedicated voice button and your assistant is ready for you. The elegant over-ear cushions wrap your ears in soft lambskin and adaptive memory foam for an ultra-comfortable fit, even during extended use. Polished, anodised aluminum and genuine cowhide leather complete our most luxurious design yet. Colorways: Anthracite (limited edition) Grey Mist (limited edition), Matte Black, Argilla Bright and Peony (limited edition).

$500

Let Dad slip into this...

Paul Stuart Footwear

Heath Velvet Slip-On

The footwear of Kings and Princes everywhere — this is like walking in Cashmere.

 

$275

The Sweet Smell of Success

Here’s fact: you are going to return to public life at some point and you want to make an impression. Have you ever been in a elevator and someone is wearing something that immediately says, yes! Likely it would be Tom Ford’s Noir Extreme. And if that’s enough to convince you, the florid copywriting should do it: “Noir Extreme is an amber-drenched, woody oriental fragrance with a tantalizing heart. Incredible notes of coriander, black plum, black fig, patchouli, and leather evoke pure, seductive masculinity, while the addition of black truffle makes this daring scent extraordinary.” oh my.

 

 

$104

Here Comes the Sun

You will totally be inspired by just the bottle alone. Simply magnificent and enchanting, Rey Sol Anejo has found a way to bottle sunshine. Founded in 1886 by Don Delfino Gonzalez, the master of this Tequila empire ages its Tequila in French oak barrels for a minimum of 5 years in order to bring out the most pleasant flavors of caramel, vanilla, and spice to tantalize the pallet. It’s a little bit of sunshine on the tongue, which is what you will find, starting with the uniquely designed, smiling sunny bottle. This bottle sells for $400 each.

$400

The Quarantine Diaries

The Quarantine Diaries

What have you been doing? Have you discovered a secret talent, a new joy that you can share with the world? We are looking for creative stories of how people have been dealing with shelter-in-place. Submit stories and images to [email protected]

The Adventures of Brad: A series

The Adventures of Brad: A series

BRAD first caught our eye on facebook as he traveled about the city during a time of lockdown. Dressed only in his blue speedo, Brad has become a staple for those familiar with Wendy Krueger, who posts regularly on the adventures of Brad. We reached out to Wendy to get some insight into Brad, the man:

Where is Brad originally from? Brad is from Waukesha, WI. He came to LA to party but found a deeper meaning in life with his best friend, Chad.

What sign is Brad? He’s definitely an Aries! Adventurous daredevil.

Where does Brad get his bathing suit? Brad has his swim suits custom-made. In his old life, he wore suits but since moving to LA, he only wears speedos.

Brad has a fine physique—what gym did he attend before the lockdown?  Brad doesn’t go to the gym. His workout is being in the outdoors and occasionally lifts wine glasses. He has a natural six pack and came in a six pack of friends. Brad, Chad, Mitch, Cody, Josh, Ryan.

We look forward to the next adventures of Brad and wherever his speedo will take him.

Concept and Photos by Wendy Krueger

Tips to Present a Better You

Tips to Present a Better You

More than ever, we are communicating online—via Zoom, Skype, Viber, even FaceTime. While reality is a good thing, it can always be improved upon. We reached out to legendary Los Angeles photographer John Skalicky for some tips on how to make ourselves look better in the time of lockdown.

While we wait it out…

While we wait it out…

The New Pope: Set design, art direction, costume design are all remarkable in this new HBO series.

As we all have a lot of time on our hands, here is my list of things to watch: The New Pope (and the old series, with Jude Law) If you love art, design, costumes, dialogue with flair, religion, pomp and ceremony with a lot of naked bodies, this is your series. Often over-the-top. this series by director Paolo Sorrentino (The Grand Beauty) is a series with a grand vision of things. In the New Pope, his theme appears to be a great concern for the lost amongst us—children with defects, the lost parents of those children, a dwarf nun, drugs, nudity, the politics of the church all get scrambled into one great nine-week series. You don’t need to back to the older series, just understand that Jude Law was the young Pope who had a stroke and has been in a coma, while laconic John Malkovich comes into the picture as Sir John Brannox, a man with a taste for great clothes while his politics run in the middle (the middle way) and his own unhappiness informs nearly all his decisions. There are gay priests, lesbians, drug addicts, werewolves and dancing nuns—it doesn’t get much better than this. The final episode, the Ninth Episode rises above the usual final series ambiguity—all the questions are answered, yet remain shrouded in mystery nonetheless: The last scene is Jude Law wearing a small white bathing suit heading into the ocean, he pauses, he winks at the camera. We are left with people in their rightful places, Cardinal Voiello has appropriately risen to a higher station, Sofia Dubois has taken a lover, the bad people are in jail, and a child has become a pain in the ass

The Prime Video, Hunters created by David Weil and produced by Jordan Peele plays games with some serious issues.

Hunters: a little hard to take seriously when in one scene you have the Nazis using Jews as a pawns in a very real game of chess in concentration camps and in the next, you are treated to a Marvel Comic portrayal of a group of Nazi hunters. This doesn’t happen often but then it does—as in the short game show sequence called “Hate the Jew” its last question is why we hate the Jews—the answer is, “because they’re Jewish.” Nonsensical and ridiculous it still never fails to compel further watching—and they may be its best promotion—it has audacity. It also has Al Pacino doing Al Pacino, but with a Yiddish accent. Logan Lerman, has and remains a fine actor as he heads into adulthood. Other standouts are Josh Radnor as Lonny Flash, Dylan Baker as Bif Simpson (a delicious if not completely absurd role) and a special nod to Greg Austin who plays Travis Leich, a very scary, threatening presence that seems right at home in the world of today. A very special award-winning performance is rendered by Carol Kane as Mindy Markowitz—rarely has loss been so sensitively portrayed. Needless to say, this show is about something that actually did happen in America, Operation Paperclip, and it answers that nagging question we all have had: where did the Nazi scientists go after the war?

The Hulu/FX Network show DEV: why is the daughter a statue? This and other existential questions are asked.

Screening recently is the compelling series, DEV, on Hulu and FX networks. Written and directed by show creator Alex Garland (of Ex Machina fame) this series takes us to a northern California quantum computer company called Amaya. Ponder this: a quantum computer company. Yes, this show gets heady, it gets complicated: it’s a love story, a murder mystery, a suspenseful corporate spy espionage story, a philosophical look into what is “determinism”, what is time, what is past and so on. So, it’s light stuff, and it moves, speaking of time, rather slowly. But it has a sensational Sonoya Mizuno (also in Ex Machina), Nick Offerman, Karl Glusman and the terrific Jin Ha, who played Annas in 2018’s live version of Jesus Christ Superstar on television.

This is show not without humor—for example, in one scene, we are treated to a blurry version of Arthur Miller screwing Marilyn Monroe and a short discussion on why progress in human nature always ends in porn. Fair enough. My own suspicion is that this about time travel, reality and not to give too much away, I think we will see the important events unfold in the golden room where all the quantum things take place.

The Great Expanse shows us that the future, everyone will be beautiful.

The Great Expanse: Hundreds of years in the future, things are different than what we are used to after humans have colonized the solar system and Mars has become an independent military power. Rising tensions between Earth and Mars have put them on the brink of war. Against this backdrop, a hardened detective and a rogue ship’s captain come together to investigate the case of a missing young woman. The investigation leads them on a race across the solar system that could expose the greatest conspiracy in human history. Starring Steve Strait—a beauty of an actor, tall, lean, loves to show his 12 pack, and like nearly every character on this show, has full lips. Can get a little confusing with so many story lines, there are a lot of characters, but as the series develops it gets better and better.

Off to a slow start, but we all await the “Paint it Black” moment in this unique series.

Westworld. A new season, a new setting, some new cast members and somewhat difficult to get into. Maybe for those us in Los Angeles, seeing that MacArthur Park and The MacArthur building as shooting locations takes us very far from the dystopian world of the West in the previous shows. It also begins to have a Blade Runnerish quality. It’s early, it’s too soon to know where it’s going, but we apparently have time, a lot of time to spend, catching up.

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.

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