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DAOU: Where Everything Is Selected to Achieve the Highest Quality

Winemaker Daniel Daou and his brother built the magnificent DAOU winery on top of DAOU Mountain in the western hills of Paso Robles, not for the sheer beauty of the place, but for its potential to achieve their vision of making world class Bordeaux style wines. “The terroir here is unique; it may be the only place on the planet you’ll find the calcareous clay soil of Bordeaux and the climate of Napa all in one place,” says Daou.

“We take a very different approach to winemaking here, we tend to be minimalist and try to present as much as we can a pure expression of terroir, so we shy away from tartaric additions, tannin additions, and sugar additions. Part of that process is to make sure we have a gentle pump that will allow us to move the grapes, move the must, and move the juice without damaging the wine.”

Ten years ago, DAOU tried out several different pumps to find one that could handle the many long hours of harvest and be gentle enough to not damage the grapes. They only found one that would do the job, the Francesca® pump.

“California is hot, so you’re often forced to harvest before you have 100% brown seeds. The last thing you want to do is crack these seeds open because it can release bitterness into the wine, and it can really affect the quality,” explains Daou. “Same when it comes to bruising the skin. I don’t mind cracking the skin open, but you don’t want them smashed. The Francesca is kind of amazing, when we process the grapes, we can put the whole grapes into one end, and they come out whole in the other. It’s a very, very gentle pump.”

The fruit from DAOU Mountain is hand-picked, then sorted both by human eye and cutting-edge optical technology to ensure the highest quality fruit. They use only 100-percent free run juice and initiate fermentation with native yeasts cultivated from the estate. Careful treatment of the grapes is essential to achieve the natural balance and texture Daou strives for. He says, “If you’re ending up with mush then you have a hard time finishing the fermentation, the yeast doesn’t digest the sugar, you get all kinds of problems. I’ve seen pumps do that, I’ve seen pumps that just shred everything.”

The gentle movement of fruit, wine, and juice was the main reason for selecting the Francesca, but other features like the barrel filling mode, pressure sensors, pressure transducers, run-dry timer, and pump-over mode play an important role in making the winemaking run smoothly and efficiently.

“The pump-over mode is very helpful,” says Daou, “my guys don’t have to use their watch, they just set the timer on the pump, and when the time is up, it stops.”

DAOU sometimes processes grapes for twelve to fourteen hours per day, non-stop, and they rely on the pumps to keep going. Daou was impressed by the reliability of the pump. “When I first got these pumps I started thinking, surely they’ll start failing left and right if we beat them up fourteen hours a day for two months, but they didn’t, they just work. These pumps are rock solid.”

Having equipment that allows for smooth and effective operation is important for the quality of the wine, but when something does fail, Daou values having a supplier that is always ready to help. “I love working with ColloPack! They understood our vision from day one. Craig, the president, has been very helpful. In the last ten years, I probably called him twenty times on a Sunday or Saturday night, and every time he picks up the phone and says ‘how can I help you?’”

Daou believes any business needs to focus on two of three facets to be successful: price, product, or service. “For our winery, we pride ourselves on great product and great service; we’re one of the most expensive wines in the region, so clearly we’re not going to compete on price. I feel ColloPack is the same, they have a great product – actually, they come close to having all three – but I’m not after price, I’m after great service and great product.”

DAOU has continued to add to their line of Francesca pumps over the last ten years and are now up to 27, more than any other winery in the world, and they also have three DIEMME presses from ColloPack Solutions.

“Growing up in Europe, maybe I think a little differently, we’re not transaction oriented, we’re relationship oriented. If we work with somebody, and we have a good relationship, we don’t go somewhere else just so we can get something for a dollar less because we’ve invested in the relationship,” says Daou.

“Because we focus on making the highest quality wine, we want great service, and we want a great product.”

In addition to Francesca pumps, ColloPack Solutions’ comprehensive processing and packaging equipment product lines offer top quality state-of-the-art equipment for virtually every major step in the winemaking processes. For more information, contact ColloPack Solutions, call 707-258-3940, or email aaiken@collopack.com.

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