Darioush Khaledi came to the U.S. from Iran, seeking opportunity and a way to fulfill his entrepreneurial drive. Originally trained as an engineer, he made his fortune building K.V. Mart, one of the largest family-owned grocery chains in California.
Despite his major success, wine was always in his heart and soul. His first memory of wine dates back to age six, when his father took him to the family cellar where he himself made wine. This close, personal connection, plus his broader link with more than 7,000 years of Persian wine history lead Darioush to become a lifelong collector and wine enthusiast.
In the beginning, it was Bordeaux that captivated him — back in the 1970s and ‘80s, California was just beginning to garner the attention of collectors. It wasn’t until the late 1980s, on a trip to Napa with his wife, Shahpar, for their 20th wedding anniversary, that he tried wines from the valley. In an instant he was hooked, and he immediately began searching for properties to buy. In 1996, Darioush met Steve Devitt, a fifth-generation Californian whose family owned vineyards in Sonoma. A fan of cooler-climate wine, Steve persuaded Darioush to look toward the southern end of the valley at a time when the focus was further to the north. Eventually, Darioush purchased the property where the winery now stands. Soon after, Steve Devitt came on as winemaker, a role he maintains today.
The winery is located in the Napa Valley AVA, just south of Stags Leap District and not far from the Atlas Peak and Oak Knoll AVAs. From the Silverado Trail, you can’t miss the ornate gates and columns — the whole estate is built to resemble ancient Persepolis. It took six years to design and build, and no expense was spared. The majestic property is a tribute to Darioush’s homeland and is a celebration of his and Shahpar’s love of culture, art, and wine.
The property includes three different estate vineyards totalling 120 acres. Thirty-three acres surround the winery, including the prime Apadana block, the oldest planting, which sits on the southeast corner of the property. It is planted almost entirely to Bordeaux varieties, with a little Shiraz as well. The 22-acre Sage Vineyard is located on the steep slopes of Mount Veeder, between 1,800-2,200 feet. The volcanic and mineral-rich soils there are planted with Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Cabernet Franc, Malbec, and Sauvignon Blanc. Rounding out the Darioush holdings is the Ashley Vineyard in Oak Knoll, where the cooler climate and fog intrusion lends itself to planting Viognier, Sauvignon Blanc, and Chardonnay, along with Merlot, Cabernet Franc, and Shiraz.