We make money from advertisers and affiliate partners. As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases.
DAOU Soul of a Lion

I am always on the lookout for unique wines from different regions of the country. In fact, this is somewhat of an obsession for me to the point where I would often pass an opportunity to try something that the "wine snobs" rave about to try something more unique from a lesser-known wine region. While I have a deep appreciation for classics from the world's renowned wine regions like Napa and Bordeaux, there's something truly exciting about discovering new expressions of wine in less traditional locales.

One of my absolute favorite places to visit for California wines is Paso Robles and while it is hardly a secret for Calfiornia wine enthusiasts ... it is still off the radar for many folks back east who only think of Napa when it comes to fine California wines. Well ... guess what ... I have a new favorite source for the best California cabs ... DAOU Vineyards' Cabernet Sauvignon has stolen my heart!

Key Takeaways

  • DAOU Vineyards, founded by the Daou brothers George and Daniel, is known for producing exceptional Cabernet Sauvignon wines.
  • Their unique production methods and sustainable practices contribute to the rich flavor profiles of the wine.
  • DAOU Mountain's terroir is unique in part due to its high phenolic output resulting cabernet sauvignon wines sturdy tannin structure and enhanced color stability.
  • The wine's complexity and diverse pairing options make it a favorite among wine enthusiasts.
  • A visit to DAOU Mountain offers an immersive experience with curated tastings, vineyard picnics, and stunning sunset views over the vineyards.

daou vineyards

Paso Robles Is One Of My Favorite Destinations For Fine California Wines

Whenever I'm in search of fine California wines, Paso Robles is my go-to destination due to its rich agricultural history, diverse viticultural areas, and an array of varietals and vintages.

While each of California's principal wine regions has its own unique personality, I feel like Paso is special since it sits right there in Central California. It is a region that, until recently, has escaped the "big money" that has transformed Napa, Temecula, and parts of Sonoma, too. However, like Sonoma it still remains a place where many owners are still actively involved in the winery operations and you can sometimes meet them in the tasting rooms and learn some inside secrets about how they produce some of the world's best wines.

One thing that does make Paso special though is that while you have a flat(ish) open area to the west that gets extremely hot during the summers, you also have a more mountainous region to the east that keeps things cooler. In between there you have some amazing rolling hills that are among the most picturesque vineyards found anywhere in the state.

This middle ground area is where DAOU is located, alongside some of our favorite Paso Robles vineyards, including Opolo and Adelaida Vineyards.

Two Brothers From Lebanon founded DAOU

While there is nothing wrong if you simply enjoy a bottle of "California Red Blend" found on your grocery store shelf, for me, wine is as much about the artistic expression of the winemaker as it is merely about tasting good. This is something that a lot of new wine drinkers don't understand when they wonder why I would buy a $50, $100, or more expensive bottle or spend thousands of dollars to travel to experience a fine wine in person. 

California is and continues to be a cultural melting pot that draws the best people in the world to come here and contribute their talents. This rings true for DAOU as well.

Georges and Daniel Daou emigrated from Lebanon and later lived in France where their dream of one day owning a vineyard was born. After a successful career revolutionizing healthcare infrastructure and taking DAOU Systems public, the brothers sold the company, moved to Paso and started to pursue their dream.

Today, their Lebanese heritage, steeped in the family legacy, is interwoven with their unassailable passion for winemaking. This personal story, along with the unique mountain terroir, has come together to create some of the best Cabernet Sauvignon in California ... and frankly, among the best in the world based on our taste of a few bottles that they sent us to provide a taste of what makes them special.

Unique Phenolic Output Makes Uniquely Excellent Wines

DAOU Mountain is located in the Adelaida District, one of Paso's 11 different sub-appelations and is located along the coastal Santa Lucia Mountains at 2,200 feet above sea level - the perfect spot for growing Bordeaux varietals.

In the world of winemaking, it's the distinctive phenolic output that sets DAOU Vineyards' Cabernet Sauvignon apart, creating some of the finest wines you'll ever taste. The magic lies in the unique terroir expression, driven by high phenolic content. This impacts not just the wine quality but also its aging potential. Here's why:

  1. Phenolic Impact: Higher phenolic levels mean more tannins, boosting structure, mouthfeel, and color stability.
  2. Aging Potential: These wines age gracefully, thanks to their sturdy tannin structure.
  3. Terroir Expression: The high phenolic output lets the vineyard's unique characteristics shine through.

These outcomes result from DAOU's scientific advancements in phenolic management. It's a reflection of their dedication to excellence, crafting wines that truly stand out.

brothers georges daniel of daou family estates release the 10th anniversary vintage of soul of a lion

Soul of a Lion 10th Anniversary

The 2020 vintage of their flagship wine celebrates a decade since the debut of Soul of a Lion, DAOU's unparalleled masterpiece. It stands as a testament to the brothers' unwavering commitment to crafting the finest Cabernet Sauvignon from DAOU Mountain's unique terroir. This tale unfolds with two brothers, their cherished father, a legacy of brave pursuit of innovation and quality ... all wrapped up in a bottle ... Soul of a Lion.


Winemaker's Notes:

The 2020 vintage unveils a captivating blend of black cherry, mulberry, and Oregon blackberry scents, complemented by nuances of leather, cigar box, and dark chocolate. Accents of desert sage and crème de menthe enhance the opulent fruit profile. On the palate, it is smooth and lush, brimming with flavors of currant, cassis, black raspberry, and ripe cherry, alongside fig and baking spice hints, all grounded by earthy notes of dates and truffle. Mature, well-developed tannins contribute to a dense, velvety texture that's harmoniously balanced with limestone minerality and refined oak. The prolonged finish offers enduring flavors of blackberry, plum, and espresso, finished with a hint of white pepper. This wine is built to last, promising a graceful evolution over the years.

Varietals Composition:

  • Cabernet Sauvignon: 81%
  • Cabernet Franc: 13%
  • Petit Verdot: 6%

Aging Process:

  • 22 months in 100% new French oak barrels

Alcohol Content:

  • 15.2%


  • 97 points from Wine Enthusiast
  • 95 points from Robert Parker’s Wine Advocate


acacia productions daou bottles dani

2021 Reserve Seventeen Forty

The 2021 DAOU Reserve Seventeen Forty, inspired by Saint-Émilion classics, leads with Cabernet Franc, balanced by Merlot. It boasts an opaque ruby-purple color, signaling depth. Its bouquet mingles violets, blueberry, dried sage, and bay leaf with earthy truffle, woodsmoke, and charcuterie nuances. The palate is greeted with a rich burst of black currant, chocolate, cigar box, and oak, supported by vivid tannins and acidity, culminating in a long, well-defined finish.

The 2021 vintage is the result of meticulous vineyard management by winemaker Daniel Daou, utilizing both DAOU Mountain and select Paso Robles AVAs. The year began with a dry winter, interrupted by a significant February storm, and a brief, beneficial July rain. Despite summer heat waves, cooler temperatures from mid-August through harvest ensured optimal ripening, leading to low yields of small, concentrated berries, indicative of potent, long-lasting wines.

the daou team commenced the harvest season with their annual bell ringing ceremony lead by winemaker daniel daou


The Lebanese brothers behind this hidden gem have crafted some of California's most intriguing Cabernet Sauvignon. With as quickly as Paso Robles continues to gain notoriety, now is the time to visit the area for a wine-tasting tour. On the other hand, you can also find DAOU wines online through their wine shop, which is distributed nationally. This is absolutely a fabulous example of a wine that brings everything to that table that we love about California and I know you'll love it as much as we have.