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Considered the birthplace of modern winemaking and an amazing terroir for producing Cabernet Sauvignon, 2,300 foot DAOU Mountain stands tall in the Adelaida District of Paso Robles. Courtesy photo
Columns Taste of Wine

DAOU a beacon of fine wine in Paso Robles

Off to the west of the 101, in the Adelaida District of Paso Robles, about a half-day journey or so on the road from north San Diego, stands a solitary mountain of some 2,300 feet, producing magnificent Cabernet Sauvignon.

Everything about this mountain is so right for the highest quality Cabernet. When the brother team of Georges and Daniel Daou staked their claim after growing up in France with a love of wine, then achieving great success in America in academics and in the tech world, the dream of DAOU Mountain turned into the discovery of a lifetime. It did not come quickly. As a matter of fact, when the decision was made to pursue their vision of making the best Bordeaux French-style wines in the world, it took them eight years to find this location. Twelve years ago, DAOU Mountain was named and planting began at the pinnacle of what would become the largest wine country in California, Paso Robles. “It was wild country then and we struggled to quickly put up a single building to start making wine,” Daniel Daou told me.  “We were just 14 miles from the ocean and you could feel it. The calcerous lime soil had a very similar make up to what makes Bordeaux vineyards thrive. Our wines have lots of minerality and natural acidity. Over time, wine experts have applauded our efforts and now expect us to make great Cabernet Sauvignon. The American dream is still alive. We have challenged ourselves to produce wines that will rival the greatest. There is no question that we have the terroir. This terroir is naturally inclined to produce wines of extraordinary staying power. We spare no amount of imagination or technology in harnessing that power to make wines of dimension and elegance.”

At the recent Vigilucci’s Steak and Seafood Wine Dinner in Carlsbad, speakers included, from left: Daniel Brunner, regional sales manager, proprietor/winemaker Daniel Daou, both from DAOU Vineyards &Winery, and Matt Moore, general manager/wine director for Vigilucci’s.

Vigilucci’s Seafood and Steakhouse on the Coast Highway in Carlsbad was bustling on the night Daniel Daou came with his regional sales manager, Daniel Brunner, a former restaurant executive at Vigilucci’s.

Both had passionate words of praise for Paso Robles and their vineyard’s promise.

Vigilucci’s General Manager and Wine Director Matt Moore expressed his gratitude for the sold-out turn out and the experience of the four-course dinner with four elite wines from theDAOU collection. After introducing his family and several close Paso Robles neighbors, Daou spoke about his and his brother’s great adventure and the elegance of his DAOU wines.

This night he brought with him a Burgundian style 2017 Reserve Chardonnay, a 2016 Cabernet  Sauvignon, a 2016 Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon and the pinnacle of his success, the 2014 Estate Soul Of A Lion, a Bordeaux style blend made with 86 percent Cabernet Sauvignon, 10 percent Cabernet Franc and 4 percent Petit Verdot ($144.99). 

In the glass, the wine reveals a rich, deep complex bouquet of cassis, black currant, licorice, incense, ripe plums and a hint of vanilla. On the palate the wine is full-bodied, layered and complex, with a lengthy finish. The great structure will allow it to evolve for years to come. And to think it all began with the finish of a dream … on DAOU Mountain.  

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Wine Bytes

  • Holiday celebrations fill the calendar, starting with the Westgate Hotel downtown San Diego. Christmas Eve has the hotel offering a four-course Prix Fixe menu from 5 to 9 p.m. for $69 each. Christmas Day has a Holiday  Prix Fixe menu from 11a.m. to 9 p.m. for $69 each. Both are in the Westgate Room. Add $20 for bottomless house wine and Champagne. RSVP at (619) 238-1818.
  • Meritage Wine Market in Encinitas has a New Year’s Eve celebration from 6 to 8 p.m. Dec. 28with some great wine and bubbly. Join the Meritage crew to raise your glasses of farewell to 2018. Six selections for $30 per person, $20 for Club M members. Details at
  • Firenze Trattoria in Encinitas is planning a special New Year’s Eve dinner. Ring in the new year starting at 6 p.m. Cost is $75 each. RSVP at (760) 944-9000.
  • The nationally acclaimed Del Frisco’s Double Eagle Steakhouse, recently opened
  • on the waterfront downtown San Diego, has New Year’s Eve dining with its Super Premium Steakhouse Celebration. This is a four-course prix fixe menu at $195 per person featuring Del Frisco favorites including 45-day dry-aged prime rib strip, bone in rib eye and much more. Additional $50 each for specially crafted wine pairings from Wine Director Faith Fulginiti. Begins at 5 p.m. and runs all evening. Reserve at 619-272-5060.

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