Luxury Life & Style - (Page 18)

WINE ENTHUSIAST AN INTERVIEW WITH DARIOUSH KHALEDI F or Darioush Khaledi, a passion for wine started not in Napa Valley or the vineyards of France, but in his native Iran. Born in Shiraz, a winegrowing region, he received early exposure to the winemaking process. As a boy, he would sample barrels of his father’s homemade wine, inspiring an instant love affair with the vine. By the time he was a young adult, he had already become a devoted collector of fine vintages. In 1976, Darioush abandoned a successful career as a civil engineer and immigrated to Los Angeles, settling with his wife, Shahpur, and two young children in the South Bay. Essentially “starting over” in his new home, he purchased a failing grocery store and transformed it over the years into one of the most successful independentlyowned grocery chains in the country. Seeing a ripe opportunity to transition his enthusiasm for wine into a profitable business, and to fulfill a lifelong dream, he began a dedicated search to find the perfect location for a winery of his own. After several years of scouting, he purchased a vineyard in the Napa Valley along the coveted Silverado Trail. What began as a temporary tasting room on the site has since expanded into a 22,000-square-foot visitors’ center and winery, aptly named Darioush. Employing the talents of Santa Monica architects Ardeshir and Roshan Nozari, the winery’s design stays true to Darioush’s Iranian roots, evoking the architecture of ancient Persia with a clean, contemporary twist. In fact, the building itself is surrounded with travertine cladding, a yellow stone quarried near historic Persepolis and exported to Napa. With six fountains, a colonnade, a 150-seat amphitheatre, 20-foot wall of water and beautiful Italian furnishings, the was the first place I saw, and I remember thinking, “if I move here, THIS is the place I’d like to live.” We bought a house two months later and started a grocery business with my brother-in-law. It was March 1977. We bought a small store in Torrance and kept all of the inventory and people because we had no idea how to run a grocery business. Today our company, K. V. Mart Co., has 22 stores from San Diego to Santa Barbara and over 1400 members in its family. Palos Verdes has been our home for 31 years. TK: Someone told me there was a good story about how you first developed a taste for wine. When was that? DK: (Laughing) I was six years old when I first tasted wine. My father made wine as a hobby for personal consumption. I remember climbing onto his big clay barrel. I couldn’t reach the wine, so I dropped a towel down and drank the wine from the towel. That was my first experience with wine. It was later, of course, when I learned how to properly drink and to appreciate wine. I developed a passion for it and was able to travel and to study it. I became friends with some of the chateau owners and participated in the harvests. And I always had a dream of one day owning my own winery. TK: I know that you have had a lifelong love of Bordeaux and its wines. When did you discover Napa? DK: It was 19 years ago that I first visited Napa. I was with Shahpur. We were on the terrace of the Auberge du Soleil Hotel, and we had a breathtaking view of the valley below us. We had never tasted any Napa wine and were ready to try one. I didn’t know what to order, so I ordered the most Photo courtesy of Brett Ascarelli. grand setting provides guests with a rich and comfortable environment to enjoy their wine. His 95 acres are planted with cabernet sauvignon, shiraz, merlot, malbec, petit verdot, chardonnay and viognier. The Nozari design team also built the breathtaking Palos Verdes Estates home Darioush shares with Shahpur. Luxury Life & Style Publisher Todd Klawin visited Darioush at his South Bay residence to drink and talk wine and to uncover the businessman’s secrets of success. Todd Klawin: Darioush, for those familiar with fine wines, your name has become synonymous with world class quality and award-winning Napa vintages. But, you haven’t always been in the wine business. Set the stage for our readers. What is the story behind the story? Darioush Khaledi: When we first came here from Iran, 31 years ago, my brother was living in Redondo Beach. It was me, my wife, Shahpur, our four-year-old daughter, Sally, and our four-month-old son, Kashy. The next morning he took me for a drive around the area and onto Palos Verdes. It 18 Luxury Life & Style September/October 2007

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Editor's Note
Carte Blanche
Feature Home
Artist Profile
Out & About
From the Cellar
Healthy Living
Luxury Life & Style Real Estate
On the Market
Vacation Properties

Luxury Life & Style