Doren Wines story
In the summer of 2009 my brother Jason bought a property in Kenwood, CA with a small 1/2 acre vanity vineyard attached. The previous owners had a gentleman’s agreement in place with a local winery to farm the vineyard, and take all of the grapes (along with many others in the valley) to blend into their Sonoma Valley Cabernet Sauvignon bottling. Since my brother bought the property in the middle of the growing season, both he and the winery owner agreed to keep things status quo for the 2009 harvest. The same farmer, Ben Calderon, had been caring for the vineyard since its very beginning and planted the vines himself back in 1999. Ten years later the vines looked healthy and vigorous.
As the calendar turned the page to 2010, the winery owner thought the hassle of farming this tiny parcel was more trouble than it was worth. My brother called me concerned “what do I do?” he asked…”let’s make some wine” was my reply….and in 2010 Doren Wines was born!
At this time I was working for a boutique wine distributor/broker in Northern CA. managing their Northern California business. We assembled a really stunning portfolio of wines and I was blessed to be representing the brands I did. I was working with some very amazing winemakers and grape growing families retelling their stories and presenting their wines to restaurants and wine shops all over Northern California. I had learned a bit here and there about winemaking from my years of collecting and drinking wine, numerous vineyard and winery tours, talking about winemaking process and theories all day long during my work days, reading technical sheets, books, magazines and blogs, but I had never actually made wine from grape to bottle myself. A few years earlier when I was in the restaurant business, I put together a couple of different blends that I bottled under our own private label, with help from a couple of winemakers that I had befriended - but that was about the extent of my winemaking experience. Those private label experiences did teach me about the project management of getting a wine from barrel, to bottle, labeled and out into folks glasses. While I never made wine before, I did know how to sell wine, at least those wines that I truly believed in. So many winemakers over the years had told me, that’s the hardest part. Winemaking is relatively easy when you take care of your vines and bring the best possible crop of grapes to the crushpad. I knew this well, so the first meeting I had was with the farmer, Ben Calderon. When Ben and I walked the vineyard, my goal was to learn his wisdom about the vines and dirt…I told him I wanted to convert immediately to organic farming principals. He was on board.
The inaugural 2010 vintage of Doren Cabernet Sauvignon was made at a state-of-the-art winery in Bennett Valley under the tutelage of Phillipe Melka and day to day hand of his assistant, Mark Mazzoni and aged exclusively in Phillipe's once used French oak barrels. When we bottled in late-summer of 2012, the Doren wine brand was now a reality!