DAOU Stories

DAOU Mountain

Georges and Daniel Daou set forth to find an unrivaled terroir for producing Cabernet Sauvignon, a quest that led them to a place of foretold greatness: DAOU Mountain. Decades earlier, renowned wine making authority, André Tchelistcheff hailed the mountain as "a jewel of ecological elements."

Hoffman Mountain Ranch

Tchelistcheff was a Russian enologist who became America's most influential post-Prohibition winemaker. He revolutionized Napa Valley wine making by concentrating on high-quality California Cabernet Sauvignon aged in small French oak barrels. Known affectionately as “Maestro” and “the dean of Americans winemakers,” Tchelistcheff mentored a long list of legendary California winemakers.

In 1961, Dr. Stanley Hoffman, a Beverly Hills cardiologist, moved his family to Paso Robles to follow his dream of becoming a winemaker. He hired André Tchelistcheff as a consultant, and together, they developed the Hoffman Mountain Ranch vineyard and winery, the first gravity-flow winery in America and first commercial-scale winery in Paso Robles.

Then known as Hoffman Mountain Ranch, the property produced notable wines and was widely considered the birthplace of modern winemaking in Paso Robles. However, its full potential lay unfulfilled for more than 30 years. When Georges and Daniel acquired the original Hoffman Mountain Ranch property, they completely restored the original redwood winery preserving a vital part of Paso Robles history. The torch that Tchelistcheff and the Hoffman’s lit a half century ago passed to the Daou brothers along with the responsibility to fulfill the mountain’s long-held promise.

A Jewel of Ecological Elements

The most beautiful expression of wine comes from terroir. In simplest terms, terroir is soil and climate. Great wines require exceptional terroir. DAOU Mountain is created from a very rare soil, calcareous clay. This soil, famously found in Saint-Émilion and the right bank of Bordeaux, is composed of clay with a calcareous and limestone subsoil perfect for growing Cabernet Sauvignon and Bordeaux varieties. This is the soil Georges and Daniel sought when they searched around the world for their dream vineyard.

DAOU Mountain rises 2,200 feet in elevation in the hills of the Adelaida District on the west side of the Paso Robles AVA. With its steep mountain slopes of up to fifty-six percent, DAOU Mountain rises dramatically above the Coastal Range with breathtaking views from the highest winery on the Central Coast of California. The mountain is cooled by the Pacific Ocean, fourteen miles away, and gentle breezes that flow over the Templeton Gap.

Warm, temperate days and cool nights guarantee even ripening and vine balance every year.

“We have, arguably, the most perfect climate in the world to ripen Bordeaux varieties and Cabernet Sauvignon.” Daniel Daou

The terroir of DAOU Mountain yields harvests of fruit with extraordinary phenolics, small berries with intense flavors, aromas, and deep colors from a low skin-to-juice ratio. Georges and Daniel promise to fulfill this mountain’s destiny of becoming one of the world’s greatest vineyards.

A final aspect of terroir is the human touch. Daniel's touch shapes every wine from ground to grape to glass. He has the greatest respect for this mountain and the resources it contains, and he shares that respect with his team. Every vine on the Mountain is touched by hand at least five times each year—hand-pruned, fruit dropped, every vine hand-picked. Daniel’s wine making philosophy reveals the purest expression of DAOU Mountain. The sum of all of these elements of terroir is wine of unparalleled power, grace, and character.

"It's important to note that we didn't buy a winery 12 years ago. We bought dirt; no wells, no vines, no buildings, no power, no tasting room. Just dirt.⁠ But we did bring passion, imagination, hard work, and energy to unlock the potential that was there to begin with."

Georges Daou, Proprietor