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Daniel Dawson

I moved to Napa Valley in 1992.
I was three years out of college and still finding my ultimate place in the gustatory universe. Napa in 1992 was a great food and wine destination (with great changes to come) and it seemed like the right place to find my calling (and I had a good friend in Napa with a couch to crash on). At the time, my dream was to be a restaurant chef and owner.

Flashback for a moment. Prior to 1992 I...

  1. Was born and raised in Eureka, California. First restaurant jobs were there, most notably Red Lion Inn Dining Room Captain (full polyester uniform-NICE).
  2. Went to University Nevada Las Vegas for Hotel/Restaurant Management. This was in the Runnin’ Rebels Basketball Heyday.
  3. From Vegas moved to San Francisco and apprenticed under the chef at The Olympic Club.
  4. Moved to Davenport, Iowa (Quad Cities) for an extended vacation from the west coast, if you will. I moved back west, to Napa, in just over a year.
My Napa career started at All Seasons Restaurant and Wine Shop. From server I moved to wine merchant and that is where I learned my craft. I left All Seasons to take my most sexy job, becoming the first-ever sommelier for The French Laundry. (When asked what it was like, I honestly say “the experience gets better the further I distance myself from it.” That said, I promote and endorse the restaurant completely.) Then Dean & Deluca for a year before a couple other gigs…this was my “what the heck am I going to do with my life?” period.

Somewhere in this gray zone I decided to create, build and open Back Room Wines.
Opening day was August 10, 2002.

It’s been a mighty fine run. Business has been good from Day One and with hard work, imagination and guts is now REALLY GOOD. We moved from a 970 square foot location, also in Downtown Napa, to our 2500+ square foot wine shop/wine bar space in June 2008. I’m happy with the move. From Day One it’s been a fighting, smart and miniscule team of two: me and one colleague. Now it is Chris Foster, who many of you now know.

My private life has had major, wonderful changes in my ten years at Back Room Wines. In 2003 I met my true love, soul mate and wife-to-be Holly Krassner. We married in 2008. We live in Napa-a ten minute bike ride from BRW. We have a girl, Talia Jeanne, who is almost two years old. Here they are-----> 

I’m very lucky to have a good business and enjoy what I do. I guess you can say that my life-balance comes from liking what I do so much. Since I do it SO MUCH, you gotta rationalize, right? My hobbies are on the back burner as, between work and family there is not much time for anything else. There are more chapters in my story to come. For now, I enjoy each and every page of this chapter to the fullest. 

Daniel Dawson
November 2013

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