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Dominus' winery is the first project realized in the United States by the design architects, Jacques Herzog and Pierre de Meuron. Based in Basel, Switzerland, they are well-known for their numerous European projects, including in London the Tate Gallery's new Bankside facilities. The architects were also amongst the three finalists for the Museum of Modern Art's new museum in New York.

1997 is the first vintage of Dominus to be produced at its own winery. Its previous thirteen vintages were crushed and aged at a nearby facility. Set back in the vineyard, the dark green basalt rock building integrates into the landscape. It is a linear construction 140 meters (462 feet) long, 25 meters (82 feet) wide and 8 meters (27 feet high). The exterior is composed of walls of gabions, which are essentially galvanized baskets containing stones. Commonly round retaining river banks or earthwalls, this application as a building’s exterior facade is unique and provides protection from the scorching heat by day and the cold at night. The baskets have no 'mortar' and the spaces between the rocks act as a 'filigree,' allowing the passage of natural light into the rooms during the day and artificial light to radiate out at night. 



The site has had a long history since the first vines were cultivated here in 1838. In 1946, the legendary Niebaum family descendant John Daniel purchased the Napanook property as part of the Inglenook Estate. When Daniels sold Inglenook in 1964 he kept this site. In 1982, the world famous Château Pétrus owner Christian Mouiex fell in love with Napa Valley during his studies at UC Davis. In 1983 he became the joint venture partner of the Napanook estate, along with John Daniels’ daughters Robin Lail and Marcia Smith. In 1995, Christian Mouiex became the sole proprietor of the estate.

Dominus Estate Dominus is the proprietary red wineproduced in the heart of Napa Valley by Christian Moueix and his team. Since 1983, our goal has been to express the unique terroir found at the historic Napanook Vineyard. Dominus has become known since its first release for its complexity and earthy character, which pay tribute to the Napanook terroir. Christian Moueix truly believes that producing a wine begins in the vineyard. For that reason, each vintage is unique with different varietal blends reflecting the vineyard and climate conditions of that particular year. Respecting the terroir, Christian Moueix began his career in Pomerol, where merlot is the dominant varietal grown.



The Napanook vineyard encompasses 134 acres, 102 of which are presently planted to Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc and Petit Verdot.  Its gravelly clay loam soils gently slope 3-10%, ensuring natural drainage.

Located in the narrow valley drive separating the upper and lower valley of Napa, the vineyard on the foothills of Mayacamas Mountains receives the cool evening air that rises through the valley, while also benefitting from the equally cool breeze that escapes from the upper valley in the early morning. This helps the grapes to keep their freshness and acidity levels high. The estate is farmed without any irrigation (dry farming), which is highly risky and a very uncommon practice in Napa. With this practice Christian Mouiex is looking to have the rootstock dig deep into the ground, thus increasing the stress on the vines and generating more concentrated and mineral-rich grapes. There is a great focus on caring for the vines individually. The vineyard has 27 individual blocks that are operated separately. Two weeks before harvest the grapes on the vines are washed, in order to remove all dirt and dust. During the harvest the row of vines are harvested in two phases – firstly the side where the grapes are exposed to sunlight, while the shaded area follows soon after. The first sorting of grapes is carried out in the vineyard. It is the practices of the vineyard, with its 27 blocks of various varietals, that creates the complexity that is evident in the final wine.

Dry farming is the foundation of our comprehensive approach to viticulture. It produces balanced vines with deep connections to the land and complex wines expressing their terroir.

A proactive practice which depends on experience and constant observation, dry farming:

  • Harnesses water naturally present in the soil.
  • Motivates vines to grow deep roots, connecting them to underground water and minerals.
  • Fosters vine strength by promoting the density of its wood.
  • Increases resistance to drought and disease.
  • Conserves water, an increasingly precious natural resource.


Sorting: Thorough cluster sorting by hand and optical sorting of berries.

The winemaking is considered to be a tool that helps the land to express its purest qualities. Fermentation takes place using inoculated yeasts, after the cold-maceration. Gentle pump-overs delicately extract aromas, color, tannin, and reveal the personality of each lot. After the fermentation the must is pressed with extra care to avoid any austere compounds. The ageing barrels are steamed and soaked before being used to get rid of the smoky and toasty aromas caused by barrel toasting. Hand-racking barrel to barrel every three months using the esquive.

Ageing: 12-18 months in 15-40% new French oak barrels




Inside information

By 1991, the wine had become well established and a classic Bordeaux-style label replaced the artist series. Napanook is on the west side of the Napa Valley facing the town of Yountville. At the foot of the Mayacamas Mountains, it is located between the valley floor and the hillside. Historical records show that in 1836 George Yount, who gave his name to Yountville, planted the first vines of the valley on the location of Napanook vineyard, before selling the land in 1850 to Charles Hopper. Since then, Napanook has had several owners. Christian Moueix fell in love with the valley and its wines while studying at U.C. Davis in 1968 and 1969. After many years of searching the ideal vineyard location, in 1982 he entered into a joint venture with Robin Lail and Marcia Smith, John Daniel's two daughters. This was the birth of Dominus, and its first vintage was harvested in 1983. Since then, Christian Moueix has worked to restore the unique character of the original vineyard. He became full owner in 1995.



“I was fortunate this year to stop by Dominus before the blends had been assembled, so I had the opportunity to taste the 2013s variety by variety with Christian Moueix and Winemaker Tod Mostero. The harvest took place between September 9 and 26, quite early by Dominus standards. Like many Napa Valley winemakers, Mostero identifies the lack of late-season heat spikes as one of the signatures of the year. Mouiex is one of the most outspoken critics of irrigation in Napa Valley, a position that by definition places extreme importance on the age of vineyards. That is evident in two Cabernet Francs in this tasting. The first, from vines planted in 1994, is terrific, while the second, from vines planted in 2010 is much more bombastic and less finessed. Both Petit Verdots are insanely beautiful. Of course Petit Verdot is a blender, but one has to wonder what happens with the leftover juice after the blends for Dominus and Napanook are created.


The four Cabernet Sauvignons are all distinctive. Block 7 A/B boasts exotic aromatics and a feminine, sleek personality. Block 24N is much more explosive, but it is Block 6N, where the oldest vines on the property are planted, that is the most impressive. Here the sensation of tannin is totally covered by the pure depth and resonance of the fruit. There is a lot to look forward to at Dominus.”

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