Darioush Winery: Ultimate Guide [History, Wines, Winery Experience]
Treading the normal path isn't for everyone.
Darioush Winery is a prime example, developing vineyards in the cooler Southern Napa Valley and merging ancient and modern winemaking techniques to produce exquisite wines.
These qualities give Darioush wines a distinctive taste, aroma, and character, with each series and vintage standing out from the crowd.
Darioush Winery owns several vineyards for Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, Merlot, Syrah, Chardonnay, Pinot Noir, and Viognier.
This ensures there's a wine for all tastes, and like all good wineries, they offer great tasting experiences.
Join us below as we dive into a world of winemaking culture and craftsmanship, discussing everything you need to know about Darioush Winery.
The Story of Darioush Winery
The winery was founded in 1997 by Darioush Khaledi and his wife Shahpar, Iranian nationals with a lifelong love of wine and winemaking.
Darioush got his love of wine from his father, who made wine as a hobby. Images of his father growing grape varieties, crushing, pressing, fermenting them, and turning them into wine, inspired him to build his winery.
But the winery didn't happen quickly. Darioush went to college and became a civil engineer, during which time he met his wife, Shahpar.
Shahpar's sister sponsored Darioush to emigrate to the USA in 1976. With no English skills but sharp wit and a keen sense of business, Darioush made the USA his home and built a successful grocery chain with brother-in-law Parviz (Paul) Vazi.
The grocery store chain grew from one store into forty-one, hiring locally and selling products from Mexico to cater to the Hispanic community.
Shahpar's experience in fashion, retail, and business (she has a master's degree in Business Administration from Northrop University) assisted with this. Shahpar played a pivotal role in shaping Darioush's success in the USA.
Darioush set his eyes on building a winery following his success with grocery stores, with his journey taking him to the southern part of the Napa Valley.
Southern Napa Valley
Darioush and his family spent a great deal of time looking for a location for their winery, finally settling on land used for vineyards before.
The site of the Darioush Winery is on the defunct winery Altamura Winery and Vineyards, cultivated to produce different grape varieties.
Spanning 120 acres in Southern Napa Valley across Mount Veeder and Oak Knoll AVA's, the winery has enough space for Darioush and family members to produce grapes of several varieties that flourish in different microclimates.
Settling in the Southern Napa Valley was a bold move by Darioush, with the cooler climate being less popular with local winemakers. But the cooler microclimate lends itself to a wider variety of grapes, increasing the production potential.
The Darioush vineyards are located high atop Mount Veeder, stretching to the valley floor, providing growing conditions for different grape varieties.
Darioush and his team looked for opportunities in the wine market, finally committing to the Bordeaux-style of winemaking - blended wines.
The Bordeaux-style allowed the Darioush Winery to experiment with blends and produce unique wines. Darioush wanted wines to reflect the people's character behind them, honoring the skill and love they put into the work.
In addition to blended wines, they also produce the Signature Series, consisting of varietal (one grape) wines, including Merlot and Cabernet Franc.
A Family Committed to Quality
The Darioush family runs the winery, employing local workers to grow and harvest the grapes.
Skilled family vintners produce the wine, with production overseen by quality experts who assure every production stage.
The winery's quality culture is intertwined with the Darioush family's heritage. The story starts in the literary city of Shiraz - in modern-day Iran – where winemaking was seen as an artform far removed from brewing and distillation.
Infused with tradition, Darioush Winery uses modern winemaking techniques to produce wines that transcend the norm.
Luscious grapes, high-quality local fruits, hand-picked spices, meticulous production processes including hand crushing and pressing, and state-of-the-art machines have earned the winery a reputation for quality.
Over time, Darioush Winery became synonymous with fantastic wine and is considered a leader in the Bordeaux style today.
Their intersection of wine craft, art, Iranian culture, and time-honored traditions sets them apart.
A Range of Excellent Wines
If you want a bottle of wine worthy of the fanciest table, you can't go wrong with Darioush Winery - and there are plenty to choose from!
In addition to blends, Darioush produces the Signature Series with pure Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Shiraz, and five other varieties.
You can also pick up exclusive wine like the Sage Vineyard Series as a First Offering Member.
With many wines, the vintage is distinctive, with Darioush’s winemakers experimenting with flavors and blends to freshen things up.
The team is also known to change a vineyard’s soil, water, sunlight, and harvesting techniques.
For the ultimate experience, Darioush Winery also hosts experience days, where you can get an inside look and connect with wine and culture like never before.
The 2023 Darioush Wine Collection
Darioush's 2023 wine collection is split into the following releases:
- Sage Vineyard
- Darius II
- Late Harvest Shahpar
Two wines - Sage Vineyard, Darius II - are for members only, while other wines are on general sale in a limited number of cases.
The Signature Series is the most widely produced and is a good starting point for most wine lovers.
The Signature Series is Darioush's most popular wine series, consisting of wines found at boutique wine retailers globally. It includes the following wines:
- 2019 Cabernet Sauvignon
- 2018 Merlot
- 2018 Shiraz
- 2018 Cabernet Franc
- 2019 Pinot Noir, Russian River Valley
- 2020 Sauvignon Blanc
- 2019 Chardonnay
- 2020 Viognier
These wines are varietal, so they are 100% Merlot, 100% Pinot Noir, etc. They let each grape variety shine on its own merits.
You could say the Signature Series is Darioush Winery’s purest wine experience, with the quality of the grapes shining through more so than with blended wines.
Darius II Series
Sweet, savory, and herby ingredients give the Darius II Series a unique flavor profile made for Darioush personally.
It is a blend of 92% Cabernet Sauvignon and 8% Cabernet Franc, with notes of bay leaf, roasted coffee, candied violets, and plum. Black fruit and cassis flavors shine on the palate, with black truffles and licorice hints.
Each bottle highlights an ancient tradition in Persian art, adding to the exclusivity. The 2018 vintage is the current release, available exclusively to First Offering Members.
Sage Vineyard Series
Made in limited numbers for First Offering Members, the 2018 vintage is a blend of 30% Cabernet Sauvignon, 40% Merlot, and 30% Cabernet Franc.
Grapes from thirty distinct vineyard blocks on the Mount Veeder hillside produce a distinctive wine with a complex flavor profile. The latest vintage is 2018, with black plum and mulberry notes and a fruity, oaky flavor profile.
The wine is aged for 22-months in traditional French oak barrels, with each vintage modeled to rival the finest blended wines from France and Tuscany.
The Duel Series is an exquisite blend of Cabernet Sauvignon and Shiraz, perfectly balancing the spiciness of Shiraz with the minerality of Cabernet Sauvignon.
Duel pushes boundaries with unconventional blends, interesting aromatics, and exotic flavors. The 2018 vintage is a blend of 70% Cabernet Sauvignon and 30% Shiraz, aged for 20-months in 50% new-old French oak barrels.
The distinctive notes of tobacco smoke, spices, graphite, licorice, and stewing fruits make it a treat for the senses. Bold dark berry flavors on the palate give way to fig, oaky and smoky notes with a spicy finish.
The Caravan Series is a Right-Bank influenced blend produced from new and experimental vineyards, allowing Darioush's winemakers to develop bold flavors.
The 2018 vintage is 58% Cabernet Sauvignon, 20% Merlot, 14% Cabernet Franc, and 8% Malbec. It's smooth with a medium body, with decadent notes of spiced chai, currants, and red fruit, with plum, fig jam, and chocolate flavors.
Each vintage is comprised of a unique blend anchored in Cabernet Sauvignon. Youthful and bright, this wine is an ideal introduction to red wine blends.
Late Harvest Shahpar
Produced from grapes that grow once late in the season, Late Harvest Shahpar is a rare and highly prized white wine defined by sweet, juicy flavors.
The 2018 vintage is a 68% Sauvignon Blanc and 32% Semillon blend. The grapes are affected by the fungus Botrytis cinerea, which dries them out and produces a honey and apricot flavor. This only happens late in the season, so timing is critical.
Notes of pear, apple blossom, lemon oil, and a cream-like texture with citrus fruits on the palate give this wine series incredible depth.
It is aged for 17-months in a combination of new and old French oak barrels to create a smooth finish.
The Darioush Winery Tour Experiences
The Darioush Winery is as much a destination as a wine producer, attracting wine lovers from around the world with its beautiful location and famous wines.
Experience days let you take in the climate, culture, and history of winemaking in its purest form, and they are well worth it if you're in the area.
When visiting the winery, a concierge inside the main building or a greetings stand outside welcomes you. You will be offered a refreshment on arrival, and your experience will start at the allocated time following a brief introduction.
Several unique experiences include signature wines, light fare (Signature Mezze), and a "By Invitation Only" event with Darioush's exclusive vintages.
Tours of the estate include a trip to Darioush's wine cellar, where you can feast your eyes on some of the finest wines in the world.
Lovers of Persian food, cheeses, and olive oils are also well served at Darioush Winery, with food sourced locally and prepared by the Estate Chef.
Here's the low-down on the experiences available in 2023:
- Parties: 2-8 people.
- Price: $85 per person.
This tour takes you through the latest releases of Darioush's Signature wines with a Persian-influenced mezze plate. Guests will enjoy learning about the history of the Darioush Winery with an introduction to vineyards and winemaking.
The Signature Mezze is offered indoors or outdoors; indoor tasting takes place in an elegant tasting salon, while outdoor tasting takes place in a pavilion.
Fine Wines, Artisan Cheeses
- Parties: 2-16 people.
- Price: $100 to $125 per person.
If you adore pairing wine and cheese, this is the best Darioush experience for you. It includes a walking tour of the winery and tasting sessions with Signature Wines and fine artisanal cheeses from family farms worldwide.
The hard and soft cheeses paired with red and white wines deliver a taste sensation. A fantastic experience for 2-16 people.
Culture of Wine Experience
- Parties: 2-8 people.
- Price: $200 per person.
This experience takes you through Darioush's winemaking culture and heritage, spanning from the Zagros Mountains of Northern Iran to California.
You will taste exclusive wines like Signature Pinot Noir alongside fresh Persian-inspired food.
Discover the history of wine, the story behind Darioush Winery, and take in the breathtaking surroundings of the Southern Napa Valley – perfect for the culturally curious.
Sensory Sessions: An Olive Oil Experience
- Parties: 2-8 people.
- Price: $125 per person.
During this experience, you will sample Darioush small lot Signature wines alongside olive oils produced by local olive orchards in California's Yolo and Placer counties.
Small food bites prepared by professional chefs and a walking tour of the winery ensure a great afternoon.
This tour is perfect if you adore Californian olive oil and wines, with Olive Oil Expert Orietta Gianjorio guiding you.
Virtual Wine Experience
- Parties: 2-8 people.
- Price: By request.
Those who can't make it to Napa Valley can enjoy a virtual wine experience hosted by a Darioush ambassador and certified sommelier.
This private tasting session includes wines of your choice and an enlightening discussion about wine.
You will learn about Darioush's rich history and the story behind the wines with a personal, virtual tour of the Darioush estate and vineyards.
Special Events & Invitation Only Events
- Parties: 1-6.
- Price: £375 per person.
You can attend an Estate Dinner with a multi-course wine-paired meal offered for only a few nights of the year.
The menu is prepared by Estate Chef Sean Massey and paired with wines from the Signature Series for a sublime dining experience.
Or perhaps you want a private dining experience? You can attend a private dining experience with family and friends, with a price on request.
The Private Dinner is perfect for special occasions with a specially prepared dinner and wines.
Darioush Wine Club Membership
Becoming a Darioush Wine Club member is a ticket to early and exclusive access to new wines, including the Sage Vineyard Series and Darius II Series.
Members enjoy both small lot and large format bottles not sold anywhere else.
Stocking your cellar full of wines you love is the aim of the game with membership, but there are several more perks worth your time.
Membership brings together wine lovers through uncommon experiences, including complimentary wine experiences and barrel samples.
You get access to Estate Dinners and can book private dinners that are extra special.
Members are in the loop about new products and experiences, with exclusive information not found in the public domain.
Preferential pricing for experiences, access to Estate Dinners, and discounted shipping rates ensure value for money with a membership.
You can enroll online to pick your reservations, with prices calculated based on your wine selections.
Here are all the benefits of Darioush Wine Club membership:
Get access to small lot, library, limited production, and large format wines before anyone else, with many wines not for general sale.
You can pick the wines you are interested in and reserve them, ensuring access to each new vintage.
Flat Rate Shipping
Pay just $20 per package to California and $25 to other destinations. This includes all orders placed online and by telephone.
Enjoy access to Darioush’s Concierge Service, helping you plan your trip to Napa Valley and make the most of your wine experience.
Learn about new experiences, products, tastings, and excursions before anyone else, keeping you in the loop about Darioush Winery.
Portfolio Tastings are free for members with up to three guests, and the Signature Mezze experience is complimentary for parties of two.
Overall, First Offering membership is worth it if you adore Darioush wines and want complete access to the Darioush portfolio.
Many Darioush wines are not on general sale, so you need to be a member to try them.