Dan Duckhorn of the Duckhorn Wine Company Talks with Food and Beverage Today

Dan Duckhorn is among the finest at his craft. We were fortunate
to sit down with the man behind Duckhorn Wine Company.

 


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In This Issue

Off The Vine

Duckhorn Wine Company

Watch This Duck Fly!

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The man himself, Founder Dan Duckhorn
D

uckhorn Wine company is located in two beautiful areas of wine country, Napa Valley where Duckhorn Vineyards and Paraduxx reside, and Goldeneye in nearby Mendocino County's Anderson Valley. Duckhorn Vineyards is responsible for world class Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon, and Sauvignon Blanc. Paraduxx produces a Zinfandel, Cabernet Sauvignon blend from its rocky soil, and Goldeneye excels in Pinot Noir from the cool climate of Anderson Valley.

It's a Family Affair

Dan and Margaret Duckhorn co-founded Duckhorn in 1976 with a focus on Merlot. After enjoying Merlot from the St Emilion and Pomerol regions of Bordeaux, they decided to concentrate their wines on the seductiveness of this underutilized grape. While most growers planted Merlot on clay soils in the south, Dan suggested growing Merlot on rocky hillsides, choose better clones and to utilize better trellis systems to grow and produce better wines. During this time most wineries were producing blockbuster, in your face, Cabernet Sauvignons so the soft pleasing Merlot was a great change of pace.

Control Pays Off

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A Duckhorn tasting

They implemented a philosophy to follow to keep their wines consistent year after year. They started off by keeping yields down to three to four tons per acre, instead of the six tons per acre the grapes produce, using different growers from around Napa, and paying a higher price for their purchased fruit. They gained more control over the end product by paying a higher price. They could control more aspects of the vineyard, when to pick, as well as they would sort in the fields, and at the winery. They were allowed to take over the vineyard towards the end of the season to ensure proper treatment to the grapes, giving them more control. Back at the winery, each lot is fermented separately to manage quality, and the final product.

The Secret's in the Land

Duckhorn's Napa Valley Estate has seven properties totaling 175 acres of vines. Each property has distinctive character in the soil to produce the variation of flavors. In 1995, the first Estate Merlot was produced. In 1997, the Estate Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon was introduced.

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