KATIE GRASSINI, CEO & BRADLEY LONG, WINEMAKER - GRASSINI FAMILY VINEYARDS
All the wood in the winery is reclaimed antique fir, having been milled from timbers discovered recently in the Columbia River. The timbers were used in the late 1800s to move materials downriver to lumberjack camps. These same reclaimed timbers were used to build the handcrafted bar in our tasting room in the Wine Collection of El Paseo in the historic Presidio Neighborhood of downtown Santa Barbara.
The entire winery and vineyard is solar powered and the water used for irrigation is from the estate’s well-fed lake. Additionally, all water used in the wine production process is reclaimed and used to irrigate all of the landscaping surrounding the winery. With a constant eye towards sustainability, both history and the future will be served.
"Patience is a Necessary Ingredient of Genius."
The vineyard management works tirelessly and closely with our winemaker to ensure that every vine in the vineyard gets the kind of personal attention that will allow each precious berry to ripen to perfection.
High-density planting, vine crop reduction and hand-training and careful timing of the pick come together to produce the soft tannins and overall balance of the structure, vineyard acid levels, beautiful aromatics, and an elegant mouthfeel in the resulting wine. Each lot from the different vineyard blocks is then fermented separately in small batches to ensure proper fermentation temperatures. As in the vineyard, patience in the wine caves pays off. Both red and white wines are allowed to spend leisurely and generous amounts of time in barrel in order to mature and reach the sought-after balance. When all goes well, our wines accurately express the unique character of this special estate and those who work there. In the Cabernet-based wines, this approach results in the inherent power and richness of the Cabernet grape being balanced with the finesse and elegance that define its character. In the whites, all of this work is intended to capture the typical freshness and liveliness of the Sauvignon Blanc grape and balance it with concentration and depth.
HAPPY CANYON – THE HEART OF SANTA YNEZ
Northwest of Santa Barbara lies the 40-mile-wide Santa Ynez Valley. At the valley’s eastern edge is the appellation Happy Canyon, an area blessed with warm days and cool marine influences with few variations. Nestled on ridge and valley, as the quintessence of this rarified wine-growing region, is where you will discover Grassini Family Vineyards and Winery—a tranquil refuge where all the conditions necessary for great wine happily converge. The location is just inland enough so that a north-south mountain range blocks the Pacific coastal breezes, preventing them from cooling the canyons. While certain grape varieties need substantial warmth during the day to mature, all vines benefit greatly from respites provided by cool nights. The combination of the extreme temperature swings between day and night make Happy Canyon unique and ideal for growing Cabernet Sauvignon and Sauvignon Blanc grapes to optimum ripeness and quality.
Some believe terroir makes the wine. When the Grassini Family decided to plant vines on the property the family had owned for decades, they called upon Jeff Newton and Larry Finkle, the talented creators of Coastal Vineyard Care, to help them realize their dream. The vineyard would be placed in the best, and most experienced, of hands. Ben Merz, the vineyard manager, provides daily direction to the entire team. Ben planned and planted the vineyard in 2002.
Vineyard foreman Manuel Cardoza and his dedicated crew do all the heavy lifting that makes it all possible. Manuel and his crew planted every vine on the estate and it is their dedication that has helped create one of the vineyard jewels of the renowned Santa Ynez Valley. In keeping with the Bordeaux tradition of the estate, Cabernet Franc, Merlot and Petit Verdot varietals complement the Cabernet Sauvignon and Sauvignon Blanc. In fact, unique Cabernet clones, tended by hand, enhance the exceptional wines produced on the estate.
DANIEL DAOU - WINEMAKER & CO-PROPRIETOR, DAOU VINEYARDS & WINERY
Daniel and Georges Daou are committed to producing collectible, world-class Bordeaux style wines to rival those of the most respected appellations in the world.
Their appreciation for quality wine was nurtured throughout childhood, in France, where their father enjoyed good wine with every meal. Daniel and Georges came to appreciate great wines as young adults, and their passion for the fruits of the vine has grown stronger with every passing year.
Georges & Daniel Daou: A Little History
When it came time for college, the two brothers set sail for San Diego, California to attend UCSD, where they graduated with degrees in electrical and computer engineering. After college, the enterprising brothers formed DAOU Systems, where they developed intranet technologies for the medical industry. In less than ten years, the company became one of the top five IPO’s in the country. Throughout the years of building successful technology startups, Daniel never lost his appreciation for wine and his desire to produce it. He began to intensively study winemaking and viticulture, working with great winemakers and learning everything he possibly could about the fine points of producing premium wines. He and Georges soon began a new professional venture that was far closer to their hearts than the technology industry: crafting world-class wines that married the elegance of the French wines they had grown up with, and the concentrated flavors of California wines.
In 2007, Daniel and Georges’ search for the perfect terroir led them to the west mountain Adelaida area of Paso Robles in California. There, they found land that had been part of the historical Hoffman Mountain Ranch Vineyard; land that fit their very strict criteria. They wanted the kind of terroir that could grow Cabernet Sauvignon and other red varietals to rival those from the world’s best wine appellations. The combination of high elevation, cool marine influence, southeast and southwest sun exposure, and high-concentration calcareous-lime soils was exactly what they were looking for. As an added bonus, the one hundred acre property had over seventy farmable acres, making it one of the larger vineyard sites in the Adelaida region.
The property, now nicknamed DAOU Mountain, has expansive views of the luscious countryside. On a promontory rising above the valleys and canyons of this bucolic landscape now stands a stunning, Spanish Colonial style winery and tasting room. At the heart of the winery hangs a bell, dated 1740, that was recovered from a monastery in Spain. This beloved, beautifully painted iron piece was forged before the founding of the United States.
In the golden, oak-studded hills of Paso Robles’ acclaimed west side, not far from William Randolph Hearst’s magnificent castle, there is a man with a Homeric vision. His name is Daniel Daou and he is devoting his life and every imaginable resource to creating, first and foremost, a Cabernet Sauvignon that rivals the very best in the world. Gracefully perched atop a stunning promontory at 2,200 feet, the DAOU Spanish Colonial style winery is embraced by a tangible serenity. Hawks wheel and bank while the all-day sun caresses close planted rows of lush, emerald green vines. The 100 percent calcareous soil makes no sound as it parses out nourishment and only a gentle breeze flows up through the Templeton Gap from the Pacific Ocean. The quiet is bewitching; you want to lay down roots here, just as the seven-year-old vines have done. But the sense of peace belies the serious industry at work on this 212 acre estate. No effort is spared to create the luscious varietals and blends that flow from this limited production winery. This kind of synergy happens rarely: superlative climate and terroir, super intensive vineyard culture, and cutting edge viticultural practice. You’re more likely to find it in Bordeaux than Central California. Coupled with the infectious passion and gracious, family style hospitality of the Daou brothers, Georges and Daniel, the result is pure magic. The kind of magic that comes in a bottle.
ABOUT DANIEL J. DAOU - WINEMAKER & PROPRIETOR
You could say that all of Daniel Daou’s aspirations for his ideal vineyard and winemaking experience have been reached. The confluence of geography, climate, viticulture, and opportunity has allowed him to become the winemaker he always wanted to be. Winemaking is far more than just a job for Daniel. It’s a highly contagious passion, particularly for Cabernet Sauvignon, that is reflected in his wines. Although his prime motivation is passion, his background as an engineer informs his every decision as a winemaker. Daniel goes to extraordinary lengths, such as employing methods only used in producing first-growth Bordeaux, to ensure that his wines are balanced with nonintrusive tannins to provide structure for the full bodied fruit while the wine matures, first in the barrel and later in the bottle. In the vineyard, he walks a fine line by letting the grapes struggle, yet never crossing over to the point where the vines would shut down.
Often, friends and fans of his wines describe Daniel as a man both charismatic and passionate, yet always ready to listen to others. He is seen as a committed member of the community whose drive and resources will take Paso Robles to a whole new level. For Daniel, putting his cherished family name on the bottle means everything. What’s inside the bottle must warrant that privilege, so every day he thinks about how to ensure the level of excellence he expects from his wines.
“It's rare to have all the elements needed to achieve perfect balance and ripeness in a terroir. We found all these elements on our mountain and work hard to capture that magic from vineyard to bottle” – Daniel J. Daou