Dos Lagos Vineyards was founded by Tom and Marcie Dinkel in 2007 when they released their first vintage. Both are passionate about wine and before starting Dos Lagos nurtured a dream of owning vineyards. Their first date was at the Hess Collection Winery in Napa and Marcie remembers watching and being inspired by their video on winemaking. Tom went to De La Salle (the football powerhouse high school in Concord) and every year for four years his class attended retreats at Christian Brothers Winery (the property and winery that eventually became Hess Collection).
While living in Healdsburg (neighboring Sonoma County) they began a search for vineyard property. They wanted good vineyard terroir, especially for red varietals but didn’t have a specific part of the valley in mind. Then one day Marcie received an email about a piece of property high on Atlas Peak that they had looked at previously – which was re-listed at a lower price. They quickly jumped at the opportunity and purchased the property in late 2006 (already planted with existing vineyards).
Their property is 22 acres of which 5 acres are planted to Cabernet Sauvignon. Two separate vineyards, each about the same size are located across from each other. This vineyard location is about 1650 feet above sea level and is above the fog line on most days. This part of Atlas Peak is on a ridge and their vineyard is located in a saddle – the fog often creeps up right to the edges of their property.
At this elevation there are dramatic differences in climate versus the valley floor. During the winter months they are often 7-10 degrees cooler than the valley floor during the day and temperatures can certainly reach freezing at nights. In the summer however, its usually much warmer during the morning than the lower elevations – and while the sun is out here and its 85 degrees – you can drive to the valley floor and its 20-30 degrees cooler. Shorts and t-shirts are the norm at the vineyard whereas a jacket is needed merely 15 minutes at the lower elevations away where everything is still socked in fog.
Their are also two ponds, or “lakes” if you will on the property. Upon deciding on a name for the wine the initial thought was to use the French words for “two lakes” (Marcie is fluent in French) but during pronunciation tests on family, non French speakers often mis-pronounced the words. Ultimately they chose “dos lagos” which means two lakes in Spanish.
Despite such a small vineyard there is a diversity of micro climates, water penetration and depth of soils. Atlas Peak is known for its tufa rock – a hardened volcanic ash and its no different here. The top soil in much of their vineyard is measured in inches rather than feet and a white hardened tufa “cap” shows through to the surface in select areas. Its rocky here and the vines struggle – the perfect recipe for low production and fruit that produces concentrated flavors.
Immediately after the Dinkel’s purchased the property there was a meeting of the Atlas Peak Association. Being the “new kids” on the terroir block they found much needed answers relating to vineyard management and winemaking from some of their neighbors. Especially helpful was neighboring vineyard and winery, Bialla who recommended their vineyard manager, Hector Lopez. Needing a winemaker Hector recommended Robert Foley; Hector works closely with Robert and manages a number of vineyards that Robert makes wine from. Robert has made each of their vintages.
Robert Foley has left his mark on a number of Napa wineries over the years. In the 1970’s he worked with Joe Heitz at Heitz Cellars. Later he was founding winemaker at two fairly well known Napa wineries – Markham and Pride Mountain. Today Robert consults for a number of small premium producers in the valley – he built a winery on Howell Mountain several years ago and its there where he makes not only his own wine, but the Dos Lagos wine.
The 2008 vintage initially shows nice earthiness, crushed rock – a dustiness if you will. This persists but as the wine opens moves more to the background revealing the fruit. Black fig, red currant and blackberry show – the nose keeps evolving nicely given time. The blackberry continues through to the palate showing along with black currant and black cherry flavors. The finish shows well structured tannins but not exceptionally dominating – rather are complemented by the concentrated fruit. Notes of mocha linger on a very long finish.
Dos Lagos is certainly one of the smaller producers in the valley with an annual production hovering only around 200 cases of one wine, their estate Cabernet Sauvignon. With such a low production distribution is very small; the wine is available through their mailing list and from very select locations nationally including parts of Texas and Florida.
Collectors and serious wine enthusiasts may request an appointment for a vineyard tour. For more information and to join their mailing list visit: www.doslagosvineyards.com