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WINE AND FOOD WEDNESDAY
10/23/2013
Wednesday Warblings
Sometimes, Just A Feel Good Wine Story

Believe it or not, amidst all the rushing around at harvest, the selling of wine all over the country, the public relations, the bottles to the critics and the entrances into the wine competitions, and the reportage that brings all these goings on to us nearly on a play by play basis, we forget that there are also some really nice, heartwarming stories in wine country. And today, we would like to tell you about one of them.

In the early days of the California Wine boom that followed the local renaissance that had been building slowly for the three decades plus Post-Repeal of Prohibition, wineries began popping up everywhere. Where there might have been 400 producers of various qualities of wine in the sixties, most of which were barely every day quaffers and too many of which were jug wines or wines of jug wine quality masquerading as table wine, all of a sudden there were first hundreds and then thousands of new names on the California wine roster.

One place, which had known grapes for decades but which rarely got mentioned in the press of the day was on in Paso Robles. In those days, Paso was a sleepy little agricultural ghetto in the middle of farmland. Barely, an urban influence in sight. Today, it is comes equipped with fine restaurants and boasts its own brewpub. And what Paso also has these days is wineries. For sure, there were a few, but it took persons of vision for the new day that was coming to California wine to help unlock the Paso image.

Into the melee, insert Dr. Stanley Hoffman, a Los Angeleno cardiologist and his wife Terry looking for the makings of an out of town place that offered a quieter life. Enter also a big patch of land high in hills west of Paso Robles. We are talking the early 1960s for the emergence of this dream into the first phases of reality. Up there on the mountain, on a site that had been one of those old-fashioned wineries left over from an earlier era, the Hoffmans set up roots, and over the next decade decamped for a permanent life in Paso Robles. The property became known as Hoffman Mountain Ranch, and, from its early days, it had set about to make top-quality varietals. Its mid-70s Pinot Noirs were among the best rated of the day, and if you asked the reason why, it was mountain vineyards and limestone soils.

But the story turned sour for the Hoffmans as disputes among investors ultimately forced them out and eventually led to closing of the winery. And this story might not have the happy ending that it today enjoys were it now for the Daou Brothers, Daniel and George, whose medical software company became big time and the brothers were bought out for the kind of money that could set up a new winery anywhere.

Anywhere, it turned out was the old Hoffman Mountain Ranch. There is something about good wine sites that just keep inviting people back. And the Daous have come back with the kind of energy that only the fully committed, like the Hoffman’s, could muster. Just last week, the Daous celebrated their second anniversary of their official opening (although their wines do go back a bit earlier), and they invited Stanley and Terry Hoffman back to the property. The old Hoffman Mountain Winery building has been restored and will be a part of the Daou production facilities.

Stanley Hoffman is often accorded the title “Godfather of modern winemaking in the Central Coast”, and even the Wine Spectator has said as much. Today, Dr. Hoffman and wife lead a quiet life in their Central Coast second home, and all around them, the wine industry they helped revitalize is coming to life in a most robust and amazing way.

The Daous brothers and their winery, although new to area, are already among its most aggressive and progressive proponents. Their wines have been top-notch and not just by local measures, but on a statewide basis with varieties that span from full-bodied reds to amazingly deep whites. It is a certainly a winery worth a special visit as the pictures seen at http://www.daouvineyards.com/Gallery/Gallery-Winery attest. And true to the Dauo philosophy of honoring the land they have chosen, they have joined in honoring the Hoffmans who earlier proved the quality that was possible from the site.


 

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