“Failure is not an option.”
These are words that Mike and Anne Dashe lived by in 1996 when they decided to get married and start a winery together. The two met, married, and produced the first vintage of Dashe Cellars wine the same year. Since that time, Mike and Anne have been committed to creating wines using traditional and “natural” winemaking techniques from fruit that captures the unique character of vineyards throughout Northern California.
Their journeys began on separate continents, crisscrossing through Bordeaux, New Zealand, Napa, a short stint through Southeast Asia, and finally the San Francisco Bay Area.
Michael Dashe - Co-founder and Winemaker
Mike fell into the world of fermentation at age 15 when he reconditioned an old refrigerator to brew his first batch of beer.
“I was making beer, not drinking it.” (Whatever you say, Mike.) “I stumbled upon a pamphlet, literally stapled together, about home brewing written by some big-bearded guy on the East Coast. No one I knew was making their own beer, at that time. From a scientific standpoint, I fell in love with the idea of being able to transform something through a natural process.”
[more]While pursuing his undergraduate degrees in biology and environmental science in the late 1970s at the University of California at Santa Cruz, Mike continued to foster his interest in fermentation by working part-time in the cellar at Roudon-Smith Winery. Though he made a brief detour writing video game manuals for Atari, Mike ultimately decided to return to his love of wine in 1985 by enrolling in the Master’s Enology Program at the University of California at Davis.
The following year Mike worked as an intern for Napa's respected Schramsberg Wine Cellars. In 1987, he completed his degree and took an intern position in the cellars of Far Niente.
Eager to learn about wines and winemaking in other parts of the world, Mike took a position working as an intern in New Zealand’s Cloudy Bay winery. While there, he wrote a letter to Château Lafite Rothschild explaining that he was planning on traveling to Bordeaux during harvest and asked for a position at the renowned estate. He hadn’t heard anything by the end of harvest, so he decided to travel through Indonesia, Malaysia, and Thailand. It was in an American Express office in Bangkok that Mike received word from Gilbert Rokvam, the Technical Director at Lafite, that they would love to have him for the 1989 harvest.
Mike returned to United States in 1990 after working 4 months at Chateau Lafite-Rothschild, studying Rothschild’s traditional methods for developing wine intensity, complexity, and tannin management during fermentation. He was quickly offered a position as the Assistant Winemaker at Ridge Vineyards, where he worked with renowned winemaker, Paul Draper. It was during his tenure at Ridge that Mike refined his skills in gentle, minimalist-style winemaking, and, from Draper, learned the art of blending, rather than manipulating, the fruit. In 1995, Mike was placed in charge of Ridge’s Lytton Springs winery in Dry Creek Valley. The following year, in partnership with his winemaker wife, Anne, he began crafting his own wines under the Dashe Cellars label.[/more]
Anne Dashe - Co-founder
Anne grew up in a fishing village on the coast of Brittany in France. She knew early in life that she wanted to work in science, but had no desire to sit at a desk working a 9-5. While attending the University of Bordeaux, she found herself torn between becoming a perfumer or a winemaker. What ultimately put her over the edge? When a professor told Anne that she’d never get in to the school’s enology program because she was a woman.
[more]Prior to starting her coursework in enology, Anne took an internship at Château La Dominique in Saint-Émilion working harvest, and quickly found herself running the day-to-day operations in the cellar. In 1991, after two years of studies, she received her National Diploma of Enology from the University of Bordeaux. After graduation she decided to move away from the French world of wine—which too often favored the children of winemaking families—and moved to California for a job with Chappellet Winery in St. Helena.
“What I saw in Napa was a complete 180 degree change from what I had seen in Bordeaux. Instead of the bonsai-like manicured vines I had worked with in France, winemakers in Napa were so open. The 1991 harvest was an amazing time in the Napa Valley.”
After Chappellet, Anne took a position as research enologist at RMS Brandy Distillery in Carneros in 1992. In her five years at RMS, she learned the science of distillation, and the complex process of extracting key aromas and essences, while helping to develop new products, including a pear liqueur and several brandies.
In 1996, after getting married, Anne left RMS Distillery to focus full-time on Dashe Cellars.[/more]