Newest winery in Templeton Gap opens its doors

A new, remote Paso Robles winery opened its tasting room last weekend during the region’s harvest celebration.

“We must have had over 1,500 visitors,” said Georges Daou, who built Daou Vineyards & Winery with his brother and the winemaker, Daniel Daou.

About half of those visitors were invited. The rest wandered in during their Harvest Wine Weekend explorations. The annual Paso Robles Wine Country Alliance event highlights tasting and special events at member wineries.

At Daou, guests were greeted by a white onyx tasting bar that alludes to the limestone in the soil. The mineral, and the cool weather of the Templeton Gap, have made the hills of Adelaida attractive to winemakers for decades.

“We were really anxious to get this piece of land,” Georges Daou said. “We believe it’s the most beautiful region of California, and we believe the best wines will be made there.”

The brothers visited Paso Robles in 2006 and later bought 400 acres. They’ve planted 100 acres in grapes.

At elevations between 2,200 and 2,400 feet, the land includes a piece of the historic Hoffman Mountain Ranch. In the 1960s and 1970s, Stanley Hoffman earned international attention for his cabernet sauvignon and pinot noir grown there.

The winery’s closest neighbors are Adelaida Cellars and Twilight Cellars.

“Dr. Hoffman was a pioneer in starting that winery on the west side” of Paso Robles, Daou said. “He had a dream that we’re actually fulfilling.”

Originally from France, the brothers have worked as engineers in the tech industry. They also own biofuel farms and orchards that produce olive oil.

Their winery sells less than 10,000 cases a year, including cabernet sauvignon, zinfandel and several blends. Priced between $30 and $60 a bottle, Daou targets a premium market with national distribution through Southern Wine & Spirits.

The 8,000 square-foot tasting room that has just opened includes an area reserved for its club members. Restaurants that have served Daou wines include Ruth’s Chris Steak House, the Bellagio and Galatoire in New Orleans. “We’re a luxury brand, but we strive to keep our prices reasonable,” he said, noting that peers in many wine competitions are priced up to four times higher. “We are not for the masses.”

But the mountain-top winery in the Templeton Gap has been built to last, he said, and eventually to expand.

“We are not in this for a season,” Daou said. “We’re in this business for a lifetime. Down the road, we’ll add more grapes.”

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