Doffo Winery Temecula Wine Experience
Visiting Sister Jan and Bro-in-law Bill in SoCal, they took us to Temecula Valley to experience the wine region there. I was not prepared for the dramatic large modern winery estates there - how large they were, and how new they were. Nor was I prepared for the breadth and depth of wine offerings.
At exit Highway 15 lies the old historic town of Temecula to the west, and head east, inland out Rancho California Road and one passes fifteen large modern wineries with another dozen off the side roads. Continue out to Glen Oak Road and loop back on De Portola Road and you'll pass another dozen plus estates.
Founded in 1997 by Marcelo Doffo, he draws on his experiences growing up as a youngster working on the family farm back in
Marcelo immigrated to the United States in the mid-1970's and eventually
opened an auto body shop, in Orange County, where he also collected and restored vintage motorcycles.
In 1997, he visited the old country in the northern region of Turin, Italy and discovered that like every good Italian, his great uncle still made wine the old fashioned way, in his basement. Marcelo returned home anxious to try his hand at winemaking, creating his first batches in his garage.
He continued his crafting wines and by 1997 he had expanded his knowledge and developed his skills as a winemaker, and was awarded the silver medal from the Orange County Wine Society.
Based on this success, that same year he
purchased fifteen acres of an old cattle ranch in rural Temecula, California, complete with an
historic one-room schoolhouse. The schoolhouse reminded him of a similar
place he attended as a small child in Argentina. Some Doffo labels feature a simple image of the old historic original school house
that once sat on the original property, which has since been removed.
Marcello attempted to restore it but was unable to gain cooperation and
requisite permissions from the county authorities.
Marcelo prepared the soil and installed trellises and irrigation lines and planted his first vines of Cabernet Sauvignon and Syrah with a small percentage of Petit Verdot and Cabernet Franc. He released his first vintage wine four years later, and called it “Mistura.”
Over the ensuring years Marcello was joined by son Damian, and his daughters Brigitte Doffo-Cartaya and Samantha in planting with other varietals and establishing a hospitality center for marketing, promotions and special events.
Marcelo adheres to the philosophy that good wine making begins in the vineyard. From hand-planting each vine to the meticulous viticulture tending the vines, Marcelo, his son Damian, and their crew take great care to produce the best fruit achievable on their estate.
Doffo Winery produces small batches of wine in comparison to many other wineries in Temecula Valley, and the attention to detail that this affords results in intensely rich fruit and bold, complex wines.
Damian grew up working the farm and vineyards. In the early days making wine in the backyard, Damian helped out by washing bottles for 10 cents apiece. Working closely alongside his father, he eventually developed into a promising winemaker, developing a sophisticated palate in his years as Marcelo’s assistant winemaker. With his father’s teaching, his knowledge expanded to include all aspects of owning and managing a winery and vineyard. After graduating from Cal Poly Pomona, and an initial career in corporate sales, Damian returned to the winery as General Manager.
Today, in addition managing Doffo, Damian sits on the Temecula Valley Winegrower’s Association Board of Directors and helps guide this coalition of winemakers.
As the winery has grown, they have established an exceptional visitor experience. Marcelo’s daughter, Brigitte Doffo-Cartaya, serves as Tasting Room Director, managing the wine tasting experience. Marcelo’s daughter, Samantha, serves as Events Coordinator and has turned Doffo Winery into a destination in Temecula Valley, hosting weddings and other private events.
Touring the vineyards, we had the privilege meeting Marcello who was working in his automotive workshop where he spends his time these days, having turned the winery and vineyards business operations over to the next generation.
Sal took us on an extensive tour of the property estate and every vineyard describing the vines, varietals, and techniques employed in grooming, irrigating and managing.
Our estate tour was then followed by a tour of the barrel room, storage facility and then a wine tasting back at the hospitality center.
We tasted their Reserve and Library flight of premium wines served with their charcuterie and cheese plate with some fresh fruits. Their Library and Private Reserve wines are packaged in premium heavy glass bottles with painted labels.
Our tasting flight:
- Doffo Vineyards "Paulina" Brut Sparkling Wine
- Doffo "Concreto" Temecula Valley Malbec 2015
- Doffo Private Reserve Temecula Valley Petite Sirah 2018
- Doffo Private Reserve Temecula Valley Syrah 2016
- Doffo Private Reserve Temecula Valley Cabernet Sauvignon 2018
- Doffo Private Reserve Temecula Valley "Mistura" 2018
Doffo Vineyards "Paulina" Brut Sparkling Wine
Winemaker Notes: "Brut made from a Chardonnay with just a touch of Muscat. Perfect for a hot day! The Paulina Sparkling was named after Marcelo's mom. Salute Nona!!"
Straw colored, medium bodied, light refreshing spritz with notes of citrus, stone fruit and hints of peach.
RM 88 points
These wines generally were complex, with concentrated forward round fruits. Doffo produces these wines with meticulous care and attention to detail in the vineyards and in the production and aging of the wine. They are testament to the importance of terroir and the distinctive suitability of a site and how that place manifests itself in the fruit, and the ultimate blend of the wine.
In summary, these wines exceeded my expectations for each label. I was not expecting Bordeaux and Rhone varietals. However, they defy the ultra-premium price point they are asking - from $95 to $150 for these Private Reserve labels. I felt they lacked the finesse, polish, balance and elegance of wines commanding these premium prices. Perhaps their entry level and mid-tier estate wines provide better QPR's (Quality-Price-Ratios). We did not find one standout favorite inspiring label.
Doffo "Concreto" Temecula Valley Malbec 2015
Barrel: Concrete fermented and aged 20 months in 1st use medium toast Garbellotto Italian Cask
Composition: 100% Syrah
Barrel: Aged 48 months in 100% 1st use American oak
Doffo Private Reserve Temecula Valley Cabernet Sauvignon 2018