Dominus Winery - Vineyards, Winemaking, Best Wines (2024)

by Anthony Zhang

Want to know more about the wines crafted at the Dominus Winery before you get one for yourself?

This famous Napa Valley winery makes some of the finest Bordeaux blends more affordable than some of the cult Cabernet Sauvignons from the region. Part of its appeal is that the wines are made by one of France’s best winemakers in one of California’s most renowned vineyards.

How are these wines made? What makes these wines so unique and sought-after?

In this article, let’s explore the Dominus Winery (or Dominus Estate.) We’ll find out how a member of the esteemed Moueix family became its sole owner, about the Napanook vineyard, its viticulture, and how the exquisite wines are made. 

We’ll also tell you our favorite wines from this winery and show you the easiest way to add this wine to your collection

Further reading

A Quick Intro To Dominus Winery


The Dominus Winery is located in Yountville and nestled within the Napa Valley near San Francisco (USA.)

This stunning winery is currently owned by Christian Moueix, a French winemaker who fell in love with Napa County while studying viticulture and enology at the University of California.

Interestingly, the Moueix family also owns Belair-Monange (Saint Emilion), Ulysses (Napa Valley), Chateau Petrus, Trotanoy, and several prestigious estates in the Pomerol region. 

This Californian wine estate produces Bordeaux style blends using Cabernet Sauvignon, Petit Verdot, and Cabernet Franc grapes. The three wine styles are Dominus, Napanook, and an entry-level red wine, Othello.  

Let’s first look at how the son of the famed wine merchant Jean-Pierre Moueix came to settle in the Napa Valley. 

Also read: Spoil your guests with a Scintillating Sangria at your next event. Or let the indulge in these exotic bottles of Chianti Wine!

A Brief History Of Dominus Winery 


The first vines of the historic Napanook vineyard were planted in 1836 by the founder of Yountville. After a few ownership changes, the Inglenook Winery owner, John Daniel Jr, bought the estate in 1946.

After Daniel’s death in 1970, his daughters, Robin Lail and Marcia Smith, inherited the Napanook Vineyard and the winery.

In 1982, they entered into a partnership with Christian Moueix, who wanted to establish a winery in Napa Valley after a recommendation from Robert Mondavi. 

Christian Moueix was also in charge of the Chateaux Petrus production and was president of Libourne Merchants, Établissements Jean-Pierre Moueix, at the time. 

In 1995, Lail and Smith sold their shares for the Napanook vineyard to Moueix, and he became the sole owner of the estate. He chose the name “Dominus” or “Lord of the Estate” in Latin to emphasize his commitment to the land. 

The Dominus Estate Winery

In 1996, Mouiex enlisted Swiss architects Jacques Herzog and Pierre de Meuron (Pritzker Prize Winners) to design a winery for the Dominus Estate. This was the first project in the US for the Swiss pair, which opened the door for them to complete more stunning projects in New York, Miami, and more. 

The exterior walls are constructed using Gabions (cages containing basalt rock.) This design by Jacques Herzog and Pierre de Meuron protects from the heat and allows natural light to shine throughout the day.

The Wine Styles From Dominus Winery

The Dominus Winery specializes in two wine styles for each vintage. Cabernet Sauvignon dominates both styles and blends, but they have notable differences. 

Let’s take a look. 

1. Dominus Estate


The Bordeaux style Dominus Grand Vin is a blend of Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, and Petit Verdot. This wine has earthy qualities from the older vines that are typically dry-farmed. 

This Cabernet Sauvignon dominant wine style typically has a fantastic aging potential of 20+ years and an accurate representation of its exceptional terroir. 

2. Dominus Napanook


This style is a blend of Bordeaux varietals that are selected for their superb fruity characteristics. It is not as sought-after as its Grand Vin counterpart, but it is ideal for dinner or casual drinking. 

Although this style is meant to be enjoyed in its youth, with its lively fruit, great acidity, and lighter structure, it could last up to 10 years. 

3. Dominus Othello


This is an early-drinking Bordeaux blend with aromas of red fruit, silky tannins and a beautiful brightness.

Dominus Winery: Vineyards And Viticulture


Dominus’ vineyard area is 44 hectares and split into 14 blocks. There is still some phylloxera-resistant St. George rootstock from when Inglebrook winery owned the vineyard. 

The grape varietals cultivated on the estate are Cabernet Sauvignon (87%), Petit Verdot (8%), and Cabernet Franc (5%.)

The Napanook vineyard has volcanic terroir and draining soils that are perfect for growing the Bordeaux varietals. The resulting wine is a refined expression of its terroir.

Let’s look at some of the viticultural practices of the Dominus Winery:

  • During the colder seasons, precise cane pruning is done in each vineyard to ensure cluster spacing for optimal ripening.
  • Natural water sources (rain and underground supplies) are used via a dry farming regime.
  • Grapes are rinsed 10 to 15 days before harvesting to remove dust and enhance grape varietal purity. 
  • The handpicked (harvested) grapes from the vineyard are transported in small harvest baskets to preserve the integrity of the clusters. 

Let’s take a look at what happens after the grapes leave the vineyard.

Winemaking Techniques At Dominus Winery 


The Dominus Winery and Estate wines are made with great balance, complexity, and purity.

To preserve the grapes’ character, winemakers practice minimal intervention and restraint throughout the Dominus winemaking process.

  • Fermentation takes place according to the lots where the grapes were harvested. 
  • Clusters are hand-sorted using a grape berry selection system. 
  • They use the gentle pump-over technique (clear juice from the bottom poured over the top) to get the aromas, tannin level, and color. 
  • The winemakers use a vertical wine press at a low pressure to release components from the grapes’ skin delicately. 
  • The juice is extracted, and barrel to barrel racking occurs in 100% French Oak. Sediments are removed during the wine aging process. Egg whites are also used at the Dominus Winery to eliminate impurities. 

The winemakers are incredibly careful with every vintage that comes into the winery, and it shows in the fantastic wines they produce. 

Ready to get a bottle for yourself?

The Best Wines From Dominus Winery To Buy In 2024

Here are just eight of our favorite options from the Dominus Winery. 

1. Dominus Estate Vertical Collection, Napa Valley, USA


This collection of Dominus Estate wines is the perfect gift for a red wine lover! It features some of the best vintages from this winery. 

Enjoy the amazing aroma, flavors, and tannins of the spectacular 1994 vintage and take a tour through the exquisite 1999 vintage.

Price of Dominus Estate Vertical Collection: $2426

2. 2017 Dominus Estate Christian Moueix, Napa Valley, USA


One of the young Dominus wines - this gorgeous deep purple-black wine has a stunning bouquet of potpourri, forest floor, crushed rocks, licorice, and Ceylon tea. More aromas of black currant cordial, mulberries, and chocolate-covered cherries present themselves as the wine breaths. 

This full-bodied wine has an impactful palate and intense flavors of blue and blackberries backed by plush tannins and long-lasting earthy notes. 

Price of 2017 Dominus Estate Christian Moueix: $470

3. 1994 Dominus Estate Christian Moueix, Napa Valley, USA


This proprietary red wine has knockout aromas of Cuban tobacco, tar, earth, cedar, bacon fat, game, and leather. 

On the palate, this wine is lush and sweet and offers incredible flavors with great depth. The finish is superb, with a velvety texture, building tannins, and magical persistence. 

Price of 1994 Dominus Estate Christian Moueix: $448

4. 1991 Dominus Estate Christian Moueix, Napa Valley, USA


This gorgeous Napa Valley Cabernet has complex aromas of currant, preserved plums, leather, chocolate, and dark spices. 

On the palate, this sweet wine is thick, dense, and intensely flavored. It has fine tannins, super-ripe notes, and an extremely long finish. 

Price of 1991 Dominus Estate Christian Moueix: $433

5. 1991 Dominus Estate Napanook, Napa Valley, USA


The 1991 Napanook is a beautiful, mature Cabernet Sauvignon from California. This wine’s aromas are a stunning mixture of black cherry, blackberry, dried herb, and earthy notes. 

This wine has a lush texture, smooth tannins, and flavors of ripe fresh fruit that are sweet and fresh on the palate. 

Price of 1991 Dominus Estate Napanook: $388

6. 1994 Dominus Estate Napanook, Napa Valley, USA


Only 8000 cases of this rich wine were produced. Even though the blend is mostly Cabernet Sauvignon, the wine has a deep purple color and a bouquet of jammy black fruit, smoke, spice, and truffle scents. 

It is full-bodied on the palate, smooth, and exhibits no hard edges as its acidity, tannins, and ABV are beautifully balanced with the flavors of ripe fruit. 

Price of 1994 Dominus Estate Napanook: $364

7. 2013 Dominus Estate Othello, Napa Valley, USA

2013-Dominus-Estate-Othello-Napa Valley-USA.jpg

The 2013 Othello from the Dominus Winery is only the third wine of its kind. And it has impressive aromas of lavender, vanilla bean, and chocolate. 

While this wine will do great in a cellar for a few more years, it already embodies the true essence of a Napa Valley Bordeaux blend wine. This full-bodied wine has amazing juicy and rich flavors of blackberries and blackcurrants. 

Price of 2013 Dominus Estate Othello: $50

8. 2012 Dominus Estate Othello, Napa Valley, USA


This wine is a true Napa creation that showcases the Moueix finesse. 

It has complex aromas of pepper, cassis, and a slight menthol edge. This wine has fine-grained tannins that lead to an amazing mineral finish. 

Price of 2012 Dominus Estate Othello: $46

Should You Invest In Wines From Dominus Winery?


With their impeccable winemaking standards and exotic flavors, Dominus wines frequently get high scores from wine critics. The 2013 Dominus vintage enjoyed the perfect 100 point score from James Suckling, Robert Parker, and Antonio Galloni

These wines are also great to keep in your cellar for 20+ years. Some of the vintages, like the Dominus 1983, could last for 50 years or more. 

The limited annual production (7500 to 12000 cases in total) has helped also with steady price appreciation over the years. 

  • The price of the 1991 Dominus Estate Christian Moueix went up by 32% from $365 in July 2020 to $482 in Jan 2021.
  • The 1984 Dominus Estate Napanook also performed incredibly well during the same period, with a 105% increase from $121 to $249.

Note that Dominus wines are as coveted as the Napa Valley Screaming Eagle bottles, which, on the other hand, easily command thousands of dollars per case.

This wine also has performed exceptionally at auctions. For example, at the 6th Annual Napa Wine Auction, a 3-imperial lot of Dominus Wine (1983-1985) fetched $13,500.

But how do you get your hands on a bottle of this divine wine from the Dominus Estate? 

The easiest wayto get your hands on a bottle of investment wine is by using a wine investment company that will help build a portfolio with your wine investment goals in mind.

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Christian Moueix produces some of the most magnificent red wines in Napa Valley each year. 

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