estled Halfway between San Francisco and Los Angeles and just a few hours’ drive from Newport Beach lies what for years was a well-kept secret among California pleasure-seekers. The central coast’s beauty is enhanced by abundant hot springs, orchards of every genus and, in and around idyllic Paso Robles, more than 200 wineries that create all manner of heavenly nectar.

The Paso Robles region is becoming especially popular with wine enthusiasts as artisan winemakers recognize the potential of the area’s earthly elements. “Entrepreneurs are looking for areas other than Napa Valley and Sonoma where they’ll have the ability to grow,” said Hayato Nogaki, food and beverage director at The Resort at Pelican Hill.® “Paso Robles offers an ideal climate, which is key to producing great wines.”

The Adelaida District is home to a host of mostly family-owned operations. In fact, many of these winemakers have formed a sort of umbrella family, celebrating their shared passion by educating, inspiring and encouraging one another. It is this sense of community, as opposed to the hustle-bustle of the world-famous wine regions up north, that attracts oenophiles and neophytes seeking to connect with viticulture through an intimate, sometimes hands on, experience. These adventurers will walk away with more than a delightful buzz; they’ll have gained a deeper understanding of, and appreciation for, the winemaking process.

While since the late 1800s Paso Robles has been a popular locale for grape cultivation in general, the area became known for its zinfandels and Rhonestyle wines, thanks in part to trailblazers like Justin and Tablas Creek. Winemakers newer to the region are demonstrating that the area is in fact capable of producing many varietals and, in so doing, are making a broader and more prominent impact on the California wine market.

It is here in the Adelaida District that brothers Daniel and Georges Daou purchased the historic Hoffman Mountain Ranch formerly run by André Tchelistcheff, a pioneer of California viticulture who envisioned the region as a prime winemaking destination. Having spent their formative years in the south of France, the Daou brothers became familiar with Bordeaux wines and, upon first realizing their dream of becoming winemakers in the American Southwest, set out to prove that Paso Robles could yield first-growth cabernet blends.

“Here we have the same soil profile as the right bank of Bordeaux: mostly clay with limestone subsoil,” explained winemaker Daniel. “This makes for an incredible minerality and also retains the water, allowing us to dry farm since the soil provides just enough moisture for the vines to survive and thrive.” Abundant sunshine, 2,200 feet of elevation and a constant breeze off the Pacific Ocean are also conducive to ripening DAOU’s grapes, while a climate that cools significantly overnight allows the fruits of the vine to rest, lending a beautiful complexity and depth to the wines.

“Average temperature during the growing season ranges from 84 to 85 degrees,” said Daniel. “This mimics the great Napa growing region of St. Helena, which we know has an incredible climate to ripen cabernet sauvignon.”

Today, visitors will find a robust array of wines in Paso Robles. Among those at the top of “best of ” lists is Adelaida Vineyards & Winery, which at 2,000 feet above sea level produces Rhones along with cabernet sauvignon and pinot noir. Closer to sea level, Broken Earth Winery is known for syrah and chardonnay, while Peachy Canyon offers up a nod to Paso Robles’ past with its refreshing zinfandels. DAOU winery’s cabs have earned accolades from aficionados around the world, and landed on Town & Country’s 2017 list of Best New Wine Vineyards.

The Daou brothers’ story begins in Lebanon, where as children they would visit their grandfather’s ancient olive groves (a local house-made olive oil celebrates this early tradition). Driven from their home by the civil war, Daniel and Georges lived in Paris before moving to the south of France, where the vineyards made them nostalgic for their homeland and inspired a future in winemaking.

But first they would attend university in San Diego and start a software company. With the means to “return to their roots,” they settled on Hoffman Mountain Ranch, which beckons visitors with breathtaking panoramas and a new wave of wine blends.

DAOU Winery Experience

Pelican Hill® guests who haven’t the time for land travel can now be whisked by luxury helicopter to DAOU winery for a wine-tasting adventure like no other. The specifics of the DAOU winery experience vary depending on the time of year, adding a unique perspective to each visit.

Upon arrival, guests enjoy a private vineyard and winery tour with a DAOU wine educator, who immerses visitors in the Daou brothers’ story and explains the “rare phenomenon” that creates the terroir ideal for producing rich and complex wines. Next up are intimate back-to-back tasting experiences. The first takes place in the barrel room, where fine wines age in French oak and special guests are invited to sip from the winery’s private reserves. In the formal tasting room, guests sample popular varietals such as the Soul of a Lion (a cabernet sauvignon and petit verdot blend) and partake in a seasonal culinary and wine-pairing celebration prepared by Estate Chef Cody Thommason.

“People love to just be here,” said Maeve Pesquera, senior vice president at DAOU. “We like to let them have privacy and time to enjoy the sunset and the view — with some extra wine, of course.”

“Paso Robles is an up-and-coming wine region in California, and DAOU winery is innovative and forward-thinking,” said Pelican Hill’s Hayato. “It’s important for us to celebrate local and sustainable partners, and one that tells a story. DAOU can provide a luxury experience like no other.”

Back at the ranch, as it were, Pelican Hill guests will find more than 200 superb and thoughtfully curated wines, including DAOU’s full collection, on the menu at Andrea. Many are available by the glass, providing a perfect encore to a Paso Robles tasting experience. And the view isn’t bad, either. One of Hayato’s favorite vantage points is the outdoor Terrace, where, while sipping a fine wine and admiring the sun as it slips silently past the horizon, one can celebrate a perfectly extraordinary day.

The DAOU Wine Country Insider Helicopter Experience is offered at $8,000 per person. For more information or to book a trip, please contact the Resort concierge at 949.467.5287.

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