A special to Paso Robles Press

The Daou brothers, Daniel and Georges, continue to rack up high scores from U.S. wine critics as producers of distinctive wines at their Daou Family Estate in Paso Robles’ Adelaida District and for offering an unparalleled wine experience to visitors.

Anna Daou with Father
Anna and Daniel Daou
Photo courtesy: Daou Family Estate

Now get ready for Daou Sisters – Katherine, Lizzy and Anna Gabrielle – Daniel’s daughters, poised to follow the family’s lineage. Although they all started working on the premise of Daou Family Estate, the sisters continue their responsibilities from different locations. Currently, Lizzy, 27, is in Portugal; Katherine, 30, in San Diego; and Anna, 24, the youngest of the trio, is based in Paso.

In a phone conversation with Daniel, I asked if he had a vision for his daughters or did their involvement grew organically?

“My vision for them is to follow their vision,” Daniel replied. “Follow your heart and passion. I’m here to support you.”

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When Lizzy started at the winery, Daniel recalled, “I was impressed,” so he put her in charge of winemaking operations. After working the 2017 harvest, Lizzy decided to explore other regions and gather experience. 

“’I want to fly my own wings,’ she said,” noted Daniel. “I don’t tell my kids what to do.” As for Anna, “She’s always been an outdoor girl, so I’m not surprised,” commented Daniel on her love for vineyards.

Whether following their passion or their father’s guidance, the three sisters are committed to their work. They are spread out geographically yet remain in touch, interacting on their various duties “thanks to  Zoom and FaceTime,” mused Anna, when I met her at Daou estate. 

It’s  a crisp spring afternoon and we are seated at the scenic terrace overlooking the lavender-dotted landscape surrounded by well manicured hillside vineyards.

“We did some replanting recently and I sent some videos to Katherine which she posted on social media, said Anna. “Then I reached out to Lizzy and got ideas from her. “We are interconnected and rely on each other.” 

The sisters take on different aspects of the business complimenting each other’s workload. With her love for chemistry, Lizzy’s calling was in winemaking. Katherine transitioned from fashion and found her niche in social media marketing. Drawn to agriculture, Anna took the role of vineyard manager.

The sisters grew up in San Diego along with two younger siblings, Joseph and Julia, and the family moved to Paso while they were all in their teens.

Tall, blonde and blue-eyed Anna looks like a cover girl yet she’s comfortable getting her hands dirty in the vineyards. “I always loved agriculture,” Anna remarked. After obtaining a degree from Cuesta College, she worked in all aspects of the winery, from sales meetings to cleaning barrels. “But always loved the vineyard,” said Anna, who also serves as co-manager for Daou’s Reserve program.

Daou vineyards 1
Daou Mountain
Photo: Mira Honeycutt

Anna looks up to her father as the role model watching his interaction with growers and wine industry professionals. “I learned the work ethic from him and how to love the vineyard.” Also uncle George has been an influence too. “I learned the business side from him.” And their mother Robin inculcated the importance of family values, she said.

Soaring to 2,200 feet elevation in the rolling hillsides of Adelaida District, Daou Mountain estate is planted to 120 acres of predominantly Bordeaux style varieties. In addition to this estate, the Daou family acquire another property nearby on Adelaida Road. 

Anna and her vineyard team were getting ready to start planting on this  70-acre Gabrielle’s vineyard the week we met. Located on Adelaida Road, the vineyard is managed by and named after her, Gabrielle being her middle name.

“That’s my little paradise,” Anna mused. The new plantings will be Bordeaux varieties including one called arinarnoa (a new variety officially approved by Bordeaux wine council to be used in Bordeaux style blends).

Katherine Daou
Katherine Daou
Photo courtesy Daou Family Estate

Drawn to the fashion industry, Katherine graduated from Fashion Institute of Design & Merchandise in San Francisco. She moved back to San Diego to work in retail including Nordstroms, then decided to launch her denim line, Daou Denim, manufactured in Los Angeles. But ten years in the fashion left her unfulfilled.

“I felt the industry too shallow,” Katherine said in a phone conversation from San Diego. “Your passion should always be your career and you should put your heart into it.”

At age 25, Katherine was on a path of self-discovery. She couldn’t ignore the inner voice and decided to quit the profession. “Dad was so supportive and invited me to the winery,” she reminisced. “I’m super grateful.”

With her set of skills, Katherine transitioned to building a digital community as Daou’s Social Media Manager and Brand Ambassador in 2019.

I asked Katherine about the current digital landscape which is inundated

with both positive and negative noise. Her approach, she answered is to maintain authenticity.

I recall meeting Katherine a few years ago and was instantly taken by her soulful presence. It’s this sincerity and authenticity that she draws on while building Daou’s digital community. “I’m taking my knowledge and making it approachable for the millennial generation and trying to nurture current consumers and future.”

While Daniel has been a strong role model, Robin instilled a sense of mindfulness in her. “She is incredibly thoughtful and kind and has a sense of humor,” Katherine expressed.

Lizzy Daou 1
Lizzy Daou
Photo courtesy Daou Family Estate

Currently located in Portugal, Lizzy and I communicated via emails. I recall meeting the petite brunette a few years ago when she was the director of winemaking operations at Daou. At the time she had her imprint on the Daou reserve cabernet sauvignon while venturing out with her own Elizabeth Daniel cabernet sauvignon which was produced from Daou estate and El Pomar district fruit.

At the time of our tasting the wine was going through malolactic fermentation yet it was luscious with a lively complexity.  The one-time-only 2017 vintage was a limited production of 250 cases, available through the winery’s website.

Lizzy discovered her love for chemistry early on and enrolled at the University of California San Diego (UCSD) to pursue her interest.  She had no intentions of joining the family business then until she tried Daou wine with her sister Katherine.

“I fell in love,” she noted in her email. “I remember texting my Dad telling him that I discovered this passion for wine and he was thrilled.” Daou Family Estate is renowned for its hallmark rich and complex  cabernet sauvignon and Bordeaux style blends, with flagship wines such as Soul of the Lion and Patrimony.

Within a few months, Lizzy transferred to Cal Poly to study Enology. “Since then, I really haven’t looked back, I know that this is what I am meant to do,” she continued. After one year at Daou, she spread her wings to other wine regions, from Napa to Europe to hone her winemaking skills.

Last year Lizzy worked harvest in Burgundy and is ready for 2021 harvest in Bordeaux this year. “I hope to take all of my knowledge and experiences I’ve gained and one day bring them back home to Paso.”

For the past three years, Lizzy has been studying in the prestigious European Erasmus Master’s program. “I have had the chance to study at three amazing European Universities and learn from the old world,” she noted in her email.

Erasmus is a program that gives students access to various European universities. So Lizzie was able to attend University Rovira I Virgili in Tarragona, Spain; the Institut des Sciences de la Vigne et du Vin through the Université de Bordeaux; and Universidade do Porto in Portugal.

Daou bottles outdoors
Daou Wine
Photo: Mira Honeycutt

While the sisters respect and complement each other’s sectors, challenges can arise.

“Emotionally we rely on each other but things can get stressful,” Anna offered. It all gets ironed out over a glass of wine, she noted.

Said Katherine: “Be mindful of how things affect the family. Dad always says, ‘Family is not something you betray but nurture.’” Then on a practical note, she added: “At the end of the day we understand there’s a business to be run.”

Distance notwithstanding, the tight-knit Daou family stays connected via Sunday group chats. “Zoom keeps us together,” mused Anna.

Story published in the May issue of Paso Robles Magazine