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Daou: Two Brothers and a Dream

From War to Wine: The Daou Brothers’ American Dream

Life started idyllically for the Daou brothers, Georges and Daniel, in Lebanon, where they were raised to value family, history and culture. But on May 3, 1973, the first rocket of the country’s civil war struck their home, severing nerves on the face of eight-year-old Daniel and sending shrapnel into the lungs and liver of 12-year-old Georges, who spent 48 hours in a coma.

“I went to bed as a child, but I awoke as a man,” said Georges. The family escaped to France, where Daniel became enamored with wine at just 13 years old. But their struggles weren’t over. Daniel followed Georges to study engineering in San Diego, spending the family’s last dollars to earn degrees. It was a good bet—the brothers quickly built a fortune digitizing hospitals.

In 2007, Georges followed Daniel to a barren mountainside in Paso Robles where they believed the region and this particular site was ideal for growing Bordeaux varieties.

Today, DAOU Vineyards produces California’s most sought-after Cabernet Sauvignons, including the coveted Soul of a Lion, made in honor of their father, Joseph Daou. Family remains at the heart of everything the Daous do.

Journey to DAOU Mountain

Two decades ago, Daniel Daou told his brother, Georges, he wanted to plant a vineyard and winery in Paso Robles.  

“Paso Robles?” Georges asked. “Is that in Texas?”

Wine had been on Daniel’s mind since the age of 13 while living with their family in France, after they fled Lebanon’s civil war. While achieving success with Georges in the U.S. tech world, Daniel pursued winemaking studies, hoping one day to realize a calling to make the style of wines he grew up with.

Employing his engineering mind, Daniel scoured the globe for the place to plant his dream.

Atop the steep slopes west of downtown Paso Robles, he found a prominent 2,200-foot peak just 14 miles from the Pacific Ocean. Reliably cooler than Napa Valley, the land combined clay topsoil with a limestone substrate, ideal for Cabernet Sauvignon and its cousins. “This combination is really profound,” says Daniel.

When acquired in 2007, the land was barren but today, DAOU Mountain is a model of wine country hospitality with world-class cuisine, service, and epic vistas.

Making Paso Robles a household name remains central to their mission. Says Georges: “Our motto was always ‘Come to Paso, Live the Dream.’”

Soul of Soul of a Lion: Joseph Daou’s Legacy

Dense in the glass, structured by velvety tannins, layered with roasted fruit, toasted espresso bean and savory woodspice, the Soul of a Lion Cabernet Sauvignon by Daou Vineyards is the epitome of a fine California Cab. The annual bottling, which celebrates its 10th anniversary with the 2023 vintage, is the most meaningful for brothers Daniel and Georges Daou.

It is named for their father, Joseph Daou, who sacrificed the rich life he had built in Lebanon to bring his family to safety when civil war came to their doorstep—a missile literally struck the family’s home, nearly killing them.

Joseph left behind his successful business to move to France, where his affinity for wine piqued Daniel’s interest when he was just a teen. “I really cherish those times growing up in France when my dad would open a bottle of wine and give me a little taste to have with them,” says Daniel.

That fascination culminated after George and Daniel sold the networking technology company that Joseph helped to fund. In 2007, the brothers founded Daou Vineyards. Six years later, they released their first vintage of Soul of a Lion. “It’s our family, it’s our traditions, it’s our culture,” says Georges.