Founders of one of Paso Robles, California’s most celebrated wineries, Georges and Daniel Daou have redefined the terms of where great American wine is derived and how it is made.
As children in Beirut and France, Georges and Daniel Daou were accustomed to daily family meals accompanied by wine. The brothers grew-up associating these wine-filled gatherings with conversation, civilization, connection and emotion—a romanticization that would ultimately lead them to the pinnacle of winemaking success. Memories of visits to their grandfather’s ancient Beirut olive groves also fed their rural wanderlust, making their eventual journey to Central Coast wine country nearly preordained.
Now as co-proprietors of Paso Robles, California’s DAOU Family Estates, one of the region’s most celebrated wineries, Georges and Daniel have redefined the terms of where great American wine is derived and how it is made. Vintage after vintage, the brothers have proven themselves in the most delicious, dramatic and age-worthy ways.
The brothers grew-up associating these wine-filled gatherings with conversation, civilization, connection and emotion—a romanticization that would ultimately lead them to the pinnacle of winemaking success.
Over the course of the last decade, DAOU wines have come to define and embody the category of world-class Paso Robles Cabernets, earning a devoted consumer and sommelier following, and sky-high scores from critics. DAOU Cabernet is the #2-selling Cabernet Sauvignon in the coveted $20-$30 premium category, a ranking that has inspired the rest of Paso Robles to increase their Cabernet acreage by 58% in the past decade. Soul of a Lion, the winery’s flagship Cabernet Sauvignon ($150) named in honor of Georges and Daniel’s father, is a vinous tour de force that has received stellar ratings from Robert Parker’s Wine Advocate (94-96), Jeb Dunnuck (96+), and Wine Enthusiast (96).
Raised in a family defined by resilience, their vinous success comes as no surprise. The boys’ idyllic Beirut childhood—steeped in Lebanese traditions of generous hospitality, family values, and faith—was turned upside down in 1973 when missile fire initiated the Lebanese civil war, striking the sidewalk in front of the Daou family home, and sending shrapnel through the house. When the war escalated in 1975, the boys’ parents made the courageous decision to move to France to give their children hope for a brighter future. Georges and David eventually made their way west, attending the University of California, San Diego as engineering majors. Upon graduation they made their mark by investing their family’s savings in their first extraordinary venture: DAOU Systems, providing integrated information technology (IT) solutions and services to the healthcare industry. After this successful run in tech, it was time for their long held winemaking dream to prevail.
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“Growing up in France and enjoying wine at the family table, we had some of our most profound conversations about our family’s past, genealogy and experiences our forefathers had,” said Georges. “These moments led to my interest in participating in the wine industry and my desire to impact others. So when my brother approached me with the desire to make wine, I felt that I was halfway there because half of the problem was to make it and the other half was to make it available. I knew that my experience and my zeal for consumer preferences would give us a chance to do this well, and I did not doubt that my brother would make incredible wine. we decided that this was the time for life to start over.”
The brothers spent eight years searching the world for the right location before landing in Paso Robles. They considered Argentina, France, Oregon and the Napa Valley, before stumbling upon Paso Robles, where they were surprised by the unexpected richness of the terroir. In 2007, the two acquired Hoffman Mountain Ranch, a historic property that would soon emerge as DAOU Mountain, a region that Georges initially called “an unloved dirt pile with breathtaking views.”
“After purchasing the property, I drove my car through a hayfield that was as tall as my side window, and all of a sudden, what appeared in front of me was the most beautiful painting I’d ever seen,” said Georges. “I discovered we had two parcels of which I wasn’t even aware. I had sort of a Bugsy Siegel moment when he saw Vegas and decided this was where he would build a paradise for adults. For me, it was at this moment that I knew we were going to make a paradise for wine lovers.”
Georges is the creative force behind DAOU. Daniel, as the expert winemaker, combines his training as an engineer with the touch of an artist. His goal to make true California First Growth Cabernet Sauvignons has made him the Central Coast’s ambassador of Bordeaux varieties. His secret to vintage after vintage of great wine is rooted in precision, passion, extreme viticulture, and the relentless pursuit of farming for flavor. Together, the two have realized an American dream and they are paving the way for the next generation of the Daou family to take over at DAOU Mountain.
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“The affection, love and respect we have garnered from the industry and from fans worldwide has been overwhelming,” said Georges. “It’s like we created our own garden and out of this garden grew a community. It’s been life-changing.”
DAOU Family Estates Tasting Experiences: 2777 Hidden Mountain Rd. Paso Robles
Discover DAOU Tasting Experience ($50/person): Savor a diverse flight of five wines representing DAOU Mountain.
DAOU VINEYARD EXCURSION ($150/person): This is DAOU’s most immersive tasting experience. The tasting begins with an off-road adventure across the mountain and through the vineyard with amazing mountaintop and vineyard ridge views. Guests are then guided on a walking tour of the tasting room grounds, where the stories behind the DAOU family journey and the history of this unique property are revealed. After the excursion, guests enjoy a tasting and charcuterie board. Four people maximum per group. Offered Monday – Thursday, 11:30am and 1:30pm.
The Patrimony Immersion. ($275/person): Patrimony Estate sits atop the Adelaida District overlooking Paso Robles. Guests are welcome, by appointment, for an immersion into the wine, philosophy and vision of the future estate. Curated pairings are offered by the award-winning culinary team.; 1-6 guests
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