Unconventional Excellence: The Avant-Garde Wines of Mo Ayoub

Mo Ayoub takes hospitality seriously: Instead of welcoming wine enthusiasts into a tasting room, he welcomes them into his living room where he pours them a flight of his highly-coveted Dundee Hills wines. 

Upon entering his home, they’ll be greeted by panoramic views of his vineyards in the Dundee Hills. He produces 2,000 cases a year, depending on the growing conditions of Mother Nature. He’s built Ayoub Wines slowly and intentionally – focused on quality and staying in the Dundee Hills rather than expansion. “I love the charm and the vibe of Dundee,” he says. “From the very beginning, I knew I wanted to be here.”

Though Mo gave 32 years of his career to engineering, it was the interplay of food and wine that always held his heart. “I’ve always loved cooking, which came from my mother,” he reminisces. “And it was my passion for food that led me to my passion for wine.”

As a little boy, he remembers standing next to his mother in the kitchen, watching her cook. Years later when he left Lebanon to escape the war and earn his education in engineering, he jumped into food again – this time in his own kitchen. “I was by myself,” he remembers. “I started cooking and inviting my friends over, and they loved the food I made. I started trying new recipes, exploring new restaurants, and slowly developed my passion for the interplay of food and wine.”

(Go here for Mo’s incredible Roasted Rack of Lamb with Shawarma Spices Recipe)

At one point, he paused his engineering career to attend the Culinary Institute of America, later cooking at the storied Galileo restaurant in Washington D.C. After re-entering his engineering career, he spent time in the Silicon Valley and later moved up to the Portland area, where he explored the Willamette Valley’s wine country every chance he had. 

Mo purchased his own property in the Dundee Hills in 2000 and planted his vineyard shortly after. He crafted his first vintages in 2004, continued expanding his vineyards within the AVA, and after a decade and a half of working fulltime as an engineer and just as many hours running his winery, he decided to dedicate himself fully to Ayoub Wines in 2016 when he built out his on-site winery where his garage used to stand. 

Unafraid to do things differently, Mo prides himself on growing the only Cabernet Franc in the Dundee Hills. “It’s a beautiful wine,” he says. “I hit it right out of the park on the first release.” He also grows Syrah and expects the vines to flourish in the increasingly warming weather. His vineyard is named Avant-Garde because he believes it’s ahead of its time.

From Lebanon to New York to San Francisco to the Dundee Hills, Mo’s journey has made one thing clear. “Wine is my love,” he says. “You have to be passionate about wine if you’re going to make this your life. And I’m proud of my wines. I’ve done my best and put my heart into everything I’ve done.” 

For collectors and connoisseurs, Ayoub Wines offers an unparalleled experience. Tastings are by appointment only and can be scheduled via their website.

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