Eric and Emily Hays, owners of Chate'au Davell, sat down with me for a chat in the winery's shady outdoor lounge and shared about their winery. They made an impression on me. Warm and easy going, the Hays make people feel welcome.
A journey into wine is often a series of events. For Eric, he first worked in restaurants and supper clubs. He then started working in the tasting room at Lava Cap Winery, working his way up to trying his hand at winemaking. Now, as winemaker for his Chate'au Davell wines, Eric's perspective, from the soil to the glass, is thoughtful.
Likewise, Emily's eco-friendly values are striking, and something she's brought to the union. She shared the story behind the tasting room and decor—all the items are re-purposed items, vintage pieces, or up-cycled pieces. The eclectic, casual décor of the outside lounge invites guest to kick their feet up and enjoy a flight or bottle of wine.
Emily's ethos on stewardship of the land and resources is demonstrated beautifully in the winery. She seems to care not just for her own family, but for others as well. Emily takes the family ethos of being a humanitarian a step further. She makes sure their bottles are made of recycled glass from California, and uses recycled paper for their labels. Other items purchased have been made in the USA. If they have to source items from out of the country, she seeks Fair-Trade products. Emily said, “It may cost more now, but buying cheap will cost us more in the long run.”
Eric shared, "The goal is to get out of the way of mother nature. Wine is made in the vineyard.” The Hays practice biodynamic farming methods with their organic Estate grapes. The wines are unfiltered and unfined, so the wines have a pleasing texture to them and are more natural. Here, tasters can enjoy wines with no dyes or chemicals added. Sometimes people avoid wine because it causes them to have headaches. But you won't find additives in Chate'au Davell's wines. They have many loyal fans since the wines are clean. Guests and friends have said they don't experience headaches with the Hays' wines.
On the Estate vineyard, the couple's Southdown sheep roam through the vineyards. Too small to reach the vines and grapes, the sheep fertilize the vineyards and eat the weeds, promoting healthier grapes. Eric and Emily then donate the wool to sewing guilds, and also use the wool—which is pest resistant—to insulate the wine cellar. The Hays also have a farm which grows over 40 types of heirloom tomatoes and other vegetables which they sell in season at the tasting room.
The feeling of family and nurturing are a warm theme. The winery is named after Eric's mother, Davell. Eric's favorite wine is his “Green Man” Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon. The picture is a self portrait and a nod towards being thoughtful stewards of the earth. Compatible, the “Gaya” red blend is a painting of Emily and Eric's tribute to mother earth. I think it also mirrors Emily's determined, yet gentle thoughtfulness with all that she uses and does.
As winemaker, there is variety to Eric's job. From field pruning, to being in the cellar, to time with guests. Every day hold something new to do. And he told me he loves what he does!
Eric is an artist, and the artist at the winery. You'll see paintings of their children, Charlotte and Auguste, along with other family members gracing the walls and the images decorating their wine bottles.
Being a smaller, boutique winery, Chate'au Davell's wines are unique.
Eric doesn't have to appeal to the masses.
The Hays can personalize their wines and surroundings, leaving an impression on guests.
The mood is lite and fun at the tasting room,
laid on a foundation of caring for our land and the world.
Rounding it out, my attention was captivated by the art and beautiful images,
and the kindness of their family.
A toast to your artful tasting jaunt in Camino and to those you love,
For more wine tasting in the Chate'au Davell neighborhood, visit my tasting at Via Romano Winery.
Join me at California Wine