Having shifted from electrical engineering to winemaking, Georges J. Daou, founder and owner of DAOU Vineyards and Winery in Paso Robles, California, has followed an unusual path. Here, we learn how the Lebanese entrepreneur has achieved his goal of creating wines of unfathomable purity.
You attribute DAOU vineyards’ great wine to precision, passion, and viticulture. How would you describe your relentless pursuit of farming for flavor?
At our core, we’re constantly working to reinvent the criteria for where and how great Californian wine is produced. We continually demonstrate our abilities and our tested methods. This mountain’s natural treasures have been present for countless years from its slopes’ physics to the soil’s chemistry, to the mountain’s wild beauty. But to discover the full depth of this terroir, one needs a strong sense of imagination to make wines that reflect the earth and embody our families’ love of each other. My brother and I are fully committed to this quest, which we want to share with our visitors.
What can you tell us about your and your brother’s pursuit of the American dream. How did it all begin?
Before founding DAOU in 2007, my brother and I suffered great loss in our family — our mother, father and sister passed away within the same year — which led us to experience a massive emotional pain. We were searching for a new life and had always dreamed about living in the countryside, as it reminded us of our heritage and childhood.
When we lived in France, we used to drink wine and have meaningful discussions at the family table about our family’s history, genealogy and experiences. We loved wine, especially my father; it was always part of our family life. These moments inspired us to take the big gamble and acquire Hoffman Mountain Ranch, a historic property that would soon become the DAOU Mountain.
How do you remain true to your favorite quote “If it’s in the way, it is the way” when it comes to your business?
My brother, Daniel, and I believe in the power of disruptive innovation. We’ve never been afraid to follow our instincts with an enterprising spirit that is often lacking in the wine establishment.
When we began researching the wine industry, we learned that it is very segmented and that great wines were expensive and unaffordable for many people. We set out to create wines that a true wine that would astonish connoisseurs while still being affordable and remarkable.
It was a real challenge at first. People knew Napa and Bordeaux, while Paso Robles remained relatively unknown. Despite that, we decided to follow our intuition and invest in a terroir that would allow us to make wines that would rival the finest wines of the world.
Theory and practice don’t always match up, but in the case of our terroir and our winemaking vision, they did, and the consumers loved the results. People were excited about the wines, the taste profile and the value they were getting. We knew that we were on the right path. Everything fell into place like a constellation of stars aligning. In the end, the only thing that matters is the consumers’ opinion.
Do you have any new projects in the pipeline?
Absolutely, we are innovative wine producers. We focus on anticipating consumer preferences, which are dynamic and ever changing. There are no limitations, as far as we are concerned. According to consumers, we remain a bunch of ordinary people who have come together to be extraordinary. Whatever consumers love, we love too.