Founded in 1997, Darioush is a top Napa Valley estate – with an unusual backstory. Owner Darioush Khaledi was born and raised in Shiraz, Iran, a literary city with a long history of wine production.
Indeed, there is evidence of the vine being cultivated in Shiraz around 2500 BC. This tradition continued until the Islamic Revolution in 1979, with around 300 wineries operating in Iran before alcohol was banned.
Darioush’s father was a hobby winemaker with a keen interest, instilling in his son a passion for the grape. Darioush emigrated to the US in 1977 to pursue life as an entrepreneur. He bought a failing supermarket in Compton, LA, in the late 1970s. Within 20 years, he owned 44 supermarkets, having invested in LA real estate when land was cheap. By the late 1990s, having sold his supermarkets and capitalized on his investments, Darioush was finally in a position to return to his home city’s heritage and realise his dream of making wine.
Darioush was a big fan of Bordeaux, so – along with his winemaker Steve Devitt – started looking for vineyards where he could capitalise on the ripeness of Californian fruit, while retaining cooler-climate Bordeaux influences. A man whose life has been defined by radical changes was not afraid to go against the fashion of high-octane, very ripe, highly extracted Californian Cabernets that were being produced in the northern half of the Napa Valley. Instead they sought out sites in the cooler southern end of the Napa Valley AVA (benefiting from the maritime influence of San Pablo Bay) and on Mount Veeder. Today they have 120 acres, spread over Mount Veeder, Oak Knoll and the Napa Valley AVAs.
While this style is more in vogue these days, since their inaugural vintage in 1997, Khaledi and Devitt have been led by their personal tastes, producing wines that effortlessly combine brilliant Napa fruit with an elegantly restrained, European sensibility.