Vintner Profiles is a post series that puts a spotlight on one of our East Bay Vintner Alliance winemaker members.
In 1996, the husband and wife winemaking team of Michael and Anne Dashe founded Dashe Cellars. Focused on crafting exceptional single-vineyard wines, Dashe Cellars blends the two winemakers’ combined 40-plus years of experience. Drawing on this wealth of experience, the Dashes create vineyard-focused wines that capture the complexity and character of top vineyards throughout Sonoma County and beyond. Anne and Michael met in 1994. Sharing several personal and professional interests, the couple spoke early in their relationship about the prospect of founding a winery. Together they have complementary advanced degrees in enology from the University of Bordeaux and the University of California at Davis. They founded Dashe Cellars the same year they were married, and produced their inaugural 1996 Dry Creek Valley Zinfandel. For the wine’s label, they chose a playful image featuring a monkey riding on the back of a fish, a metaphor for two unique creatures traveling together on a journey.
Dashe Cellars portfolio includes excellent, zinfandel, riesling, cabernet sauvignon, petite sirah and riesling. To create these wines, Michael applies traditional and ‘natural’ winemaking techniques, including small-lot fermentation, the use of indigenous yeasts, and little-or-no fining or filtration. To moderate oak influence, the winery’s barrel program incorporates large-format oak vessels including 900-gallon foudres and 120-gallon puncheons, as well as older traditional French barrels. During blending, Michael and Anne work side-by-side to achieve a synthesis of French and American winemaking.
Their downtown Oakland-based winery is located just off historic Jack London Square.
About Michael Dashe, co-founder and winemaker
At the age of fifteen, Michael Dashe discovered his passion for the science of fermentation when he reconditioned an old refrigerator to begin making his own handcrafted beer. From selecting his own hops and malts, to studying the art of brewing, Michael loved the process. By 1978, as an undergraduate studying biology, with an emphasis on plant physiology, at the University of California at Santa Cruz, Michael’s fascination with fermentation had guided him to begin making his own small batch wines. Learn about Michael here.
About Anne Dashe, co-founder
When speaking of her upbringing in Brittany and her love of wine, Anne Dashe says simply, “In France, you don’t come to wine, wine comes to you. It is always a part of life.” As a child, Anne followed her nose, intrigued by different smells. From the mustiness of old books, to the leather and blackberry of classic Rhône red wines, Anne discovered that she connected emotions to different aromas.
Fascinated by nature and plant physiology, in 1987, Anne traveled to Bordeaux to study biochemistry and science. There, she found herself torn between her desire to make wine, and her interest in becoming a perfumer. After two years of rigorous scientific studies, Anne took an internship at Château La Dominique in Saint-Emilion, and quickly fell in love with the workings of the small winery.
“I was inspired by all the layers of the process,” she says. “It appealed to my desire to make things. From the chemistry of the wine, to the selection of the corks and the design of the label, it required such a diversity of skills. But most of all, I discovered how passionate I was about blending wines. It was a revelation. It was then that I knew I wanted to study enology.”
Anne received her national diploma of enology from the University of Bordeaux in 1991. Eager to pursue opportunities outside the French system that often favored the children of winemaking families for hands-on winemaking positions, she moved to California. Learn more about Anne here.
Their fruit is often sourced from Dry creek and the Alexander Valley, and receive organic grapes from Mendocino.
Do you have a preference for any specific varietals? If so, why?
There is hardly a wine I have not enjoyed making. Pinot noir — love to drink but not make.
What makes Dashe Cellars wine unique?
Native yeast fermentation. A lot of experience with European wineries. We try to keep in mind the balance and complexity that we see as European in style. Taking advantage of California fruit. Also we are a husband and wife duo.
What is about the East Bay that you’ve chosen to make it the home for your wines?
Kent Rosenblum gave me an opportunity in Oakland. Oakland is supportive and glad we are there. It’s hip and edgy. The spirit of Oakland has changed in the last 5 years and it’s exciting.
Learn more about Dashe Cellars at (510) 452-1800, located at 55 4th Street , dashecellars.com