There are few stories that embody the American Dream as much as that of the DAOU brothers, Georges and Daniel, owners of DAOU Vineyard & Winery. Located in Paso Robles, in the breathtaking Adelaida District, 10 minutes from downtown, DAOU’s dining terrace, European inspired furnishings and impeccable grounds have expansive views overlooking what is easily, California’s most gorgeous vineyard.
People of passion
As young children, Lebanese-born brothers Georges and Daniel left during Lebanon’s traumatic civil war and grew up with their family in France. Attending University of California, San Diego, Georges studied mathematics and Daniel became an engineer. One business success after another followed with the DAOU brothers ultimately selling a public company they created that provided hospital services which catapulted them to another financial realm granting them a new level of prosperity and freedom.
More business successes ensued. Was there anything the DAOU brothers could touch that wouldn’t turn to gold? Then in 2007 they bought what is now known as DAOU Mountain in Paso. Since then DAOU Vineyards have produced remarkable wines winning the highest accolades from major critics and they have created a magical tasting environment that pays homage to the terroir the brothers so clearly love.
In addition to great wines, an utterly enchanting setting and delicious food, what sets DAOU apart is quite simply, passion. Passion for their families, their employees, their friends, their community, the terroir they cultivate and of course, the fantastic wines they produce.
In early August, Master Sommelier Frederick L. Dame joined DAOU as its Global Wine Ambassador. One of the world’s most revered sommeliers, Dame’s expertise, dedication and devotion to great wines will propel DAOU to even greater heights. Without doubt, this coupling of DAOU and Dame will make oenophilic marital bliss.
On any given day, visitors to the DAOU Vineyard can enjoy wine tastings, culinary pleasures with divine pairing experiences during regular hours, or attend one of the special events that DAOU hosts, such as the after-hours Sunset Series with live music and featured wines.
DAOU’s Annual Gala
In addition to other remarkable events hosted in Paso and around the world by the brothers, for the past five years DAOU has hosted a themed Annual Gala at the Vineyard. This year’s theme was “Studio 54” following the concept of the famed, former legendary New York City nightclub of the same name. And what a Gala it was.
With 300 costumed guests and 185 staff and performers providing all manner of disco fever entertainment, there were talented musicians and highly skilled professional dancers. Also present, a few incredible add-ons such as a giraffe, pink pelicans, a white horse with the requisite beauty riding atop, aerial ring contortionists, and for those in need of channeling their inner toddler, a multi-colored rubber ball pit. It was a certainly a night to remember, all of which was planned, created and executed by the DAOU team led by wunderkind planner Christina Rivera-Glenn.
The Uber talented Estate Chef Cody Thomasson oversaw the continuous supply of delectable hors d’oeuvres and the elegant four-course dinner that commenced with poached lobster tail with micro cilantro and parsley lemon puree, followed with a braised short rib so tender, that a knife was mere table decoration. The cremini mushroom risotto made me nearly weep with delight, and in typical French fashion, this portion of the meal ended with a marvelous cheese plate.
Then came the desserts, or rather, the artistically displayed, almost-too-pretty-to-eat tables of anything a high-octane sugar addict could need, imagine or desire: from gourmet cupcakes to chocolate dobash lollipops to everything in between. This of course provided the requisite additional fuel for the fun night ahead of dancing under the stars.
DAOU and Rolls-Royce – a perfect union
Like last year’s DAOU Annual Gala – themed James Bond – this year’s Gala was also partnered with Rolls-Royce Motor Cars. So on hand near the Gala’s red carpet entryway were several 2018 Rolls-Royce models of the Phantom, Wraith, Dawn and Ghost.
For SUV aficionados desiring wheels as magnificent as the 3,100-carat diamond from which its name hails, the breathtaking Rolls-Royce Cullinan also made a luxurious debut. This automotive beauty is the brand’s first all-terrain, all-wheel drive machine and for adventurous types seeking luxury, is truly a sight to behold.
Possessing many of the same lavish accouterments as other Rolls-Royce models, such as lambs wool foot mats and massage seating, the Cullinan is even more extraordinary with its partition glass allowing for a separate passenger seating. Then there is the designer contrasting trimmed leather seating that seems more regal than ought to be legal.
Perhaps most impressive is its rear ‘Viewing Suite.’ Simply press a button and voilà, two leather seats magically appear in the rear with the requisite cocktail table – perfect for a bottle or two or three of DAOU wines. The wide-open, unobstructed and expansive views will make you dream of sporting one in the Serengeti, cutting loose in the Kalahari or simply puttering in pretty Paso.
The jewel of ecological elements
In a corresponding great American dream story, André Tchelistcheff was the son of the Russian Supreme Court Chief Justice before the Russian Revolution. André ultimately fled to France then arrived in the US in 1938. Pioneering modern viticulture, André became known as the “Dean of American Winemaking“ and the “Winemaker’s Winemaker.” He once heralded the Adelaida District – of which DAOU Mountain is a part – calling it the “[j]ewel of ecological elements.”
Not surprising then that the DAOU brothers became enamored by the unparalleled growing conditions of Paso’s Adelaida District. Just 14 miles from the Pacific Ocean and 2,200 feet above sea level, DAOU Mountain is a microclimatic marvel. Stretching 212 acres – with 120 under vine – DAOU is planted predominantly with Cabernet Sauvignon and Bordeaux varietals.
In discussing wine, contemplating oenological nuances or altering viticulture technology, winemakers who knew André often asked, “What would André have done?” If André were still alive, I am quite certain he would have come to DAOU Mountain and been thrilled at what the DAOU brothers have created and the remarkable, award-winning wines they have been so successful at producing.
Mesmerized by the views while sitting with a glass or bottle of one of DAOU Estate or Reserve wines, especially the 2015 Estate Soul of a Lion – 76% Cabernet Sauvignon, 13% Cabernet Franc and 11% Petit Verdot, given 93 by Wine Spectator – it becomes clear that something special and unique was created on DAOU Mountain.
The DAOU brothers’ distinctly evident passion and courageous, heartfelt vision matched with the magic of DAOU Mountain is a great and inspiring, truly American story of an American dream realized.
DAOU Vineyards & Winery, 2700 Hidden Mountain Rd., Paso Robles, California. Tel 805/226-5460.
Julie L. Kessler is a travel writer, legal columnist and attorney and is the author of the award-winning book “Fifty-Fifty: The Clarity of Hindsight.” She can be reached at Julie@VagabondLawyer.com