Half the fun is getting there when you’re driving a Rolls-Royce Cullinan to Mammoth for the Daou Vineyards pop-up.
Written by Ottocina Ryan
The sunrise reflects in the snow white hood of the Rolls-Royce Cullinan, enhancing the whimsy of my early morning view, and my excitement for the weekend to come. The SUV glides along Highway 395 to Mammoth for a weekend of skiing and wine. This Sunday, February 13th, is the final day of the worth-the-trip-on-its-own Daou Lounge pop-up at McCoy Station, where the Paso Robles winery takes up residency each winter.
After driving a few hours, the seat massage activates. Rolls-Royce’s first AWD vehicle is equally opulent and capable. 80 mph seems like 30. Driving down any snowy dirt road that piques our interest feels like butter. The plush carpet, folding trays and screens in the rear seats, and spaciousness are reminiscent of a living room. Every aspect of the car is a testament to Rolls-Royce’s attention to detail. We feel secure, and special–a confidence that comes from being cocooned in the most prestigious vehicle we encounter on the six hour drive. The rare beauty, fittingly named after the largest diamond ever discovered, fuses 563 horsepower with the comfort of a stately home. The ultimate road trip car.
We emerge from the Cullinan’s coach doors and check into our Juniper Springs Resort condo. A one minute walk away (maybe two wearing ski boots), we pick up rentals at Eagle Lodge at the base of the mountain. The next day we hit the slopes early, and ski until lunch. Thanks to our Black Passes, we skip the lift lines, saving what looks like hours.
At noon we leave our skis outside McCoy Station, and walk past the crowds to Parallax, a restaurant exclusively for Black Pass members. We take our boots off and immediately divert our attention to the chef’s table, laden with everything from charcuterie boards, to roasted brussels and burgers, to carrot cake and macarons. We fill our plates and sit by the window. The Winter Olympics on TV has nothing on Parallax's panoramic views of skiers and snowboarders flying down the mountain.
Before returning to the slopes, we visit the Daou Lounge. It’s immediately clear that Daou is genuinely devoted to fostering delight and connection through wine. The space exudes Owners Georges and Daniel Daou’s passion for adventure and generous hospitality. For starters, the Lounge is staffed by the kindest people, pouring tastes of their Rosé and Cabernet Sauvignon. We kick back in Adirondack chairs and take in the view. A glass wall reveals the majestic mountain, adjacent to a black and white mural of their Paso Robles vineyard on Daou Mountain.
The purpose of the pop-up is to spark delight; you couldn’t buy wine if you wanted to. And you will want to. Awards and high scores are a given for every bottle Daou produces, from their perfectly dry and refreshing Rosé, to their Cabernet Sauvignon (which they’re most known for), to the Chardonnay and Petit Syrah & Petit Bordeaux blend from their Bodyguard line. The label’s namesake is their mom–she was like a bodyguard to the brothers during their childhood. Georges and Daniel grew up in Beirut, Lebanon, where a missle from the civil war struck just outside their home when they were 8 and 12. Shortly after, they fled to France. Through the hardships the brothers emerged successful and resilient.
After leaving France, the Daou brothers moved to San Diego, studied engineering, supported their entire family by building a tech company that they eventually took public, and went on to live out their dream of creating Bordeaux style wines in the Central Coast. At Daou Vineyards, everything is done with an intensity of purpose, from utilizing dry farming techniques to solar power. Since 2007, they have nurtured the vineyard and winery, enabling them to create activations, like Daou Lounge, that showcase their joie de vivre and incredible wines, all with a story so genuine you want to drink up every last drop.