Founders of DWC, Cornell engineer Lou Damiani (specializing in energy conservation) and Phil Davis (a logger by trade) both grew up in Hector.
Lou had a long time interest in wine making and originally went to school for food science before switching into engineering. In the mid nineties he returned to studying winemaking in a serious way and mentored under Phil Hazlitt for a number of years. In 1996 Lou wanted to plant his 1st vineyard of Cabernet Franc and Merlot and went to his old friend and college mate Phil Davis who was a long time viticulturist. The two of them threw themselves into the project and the following year Phil pulled out a hybrid vineyard and planted Cabernet Sauvignon, Pinot Noir and Merlot. The two friends and partners soon started making some good wines from the Finger Lakes region from local vineyards and when their vineyards started producing in 2003, the next step was taken of making some world class red wines. The journey has never slowed down and they have included many varieties of grapes and types of wine, always striving for excellence and expression of the unique terroir of the Finger Lakes region. Lou was the head winemaker from inception in 2003 until 2011 when he helped to train Phil Arras to continue and improve the tradition at Damiani Wine cellars.
In 2007 they hired Glenn Allen as Business Consultant. After working together over the course of the following year Lou and Phil asked Glenn to join them as partner. Since then, DWC has expanded both the winery operations and the properties that DWC now owns and operates.
Today, DWC has four main vineyard sites, with approximately 40 acres of land under vine, and a new tasting room that hosts an event space as well as their retail outlet.
Phil grew up in Philadelphia and moved to the finger lakes in 2003 to attend Cornell University, where he studied philosophy and political science. After taking a class on wine appreciation, he was bit by the wine bug and resolved to go back to school for winemaking, but before he could make it to California he was hired by Damiani Wine Cellars in 2009 as the assistant winemaker and decided to try out learning on the job. After several years as assistant, Phil became the head winemaker in 2012. He also runs a small mobile wine bottling company, providing bottling services for several small local wineries. He lives in north Hector with his wife Erin, his two kids Rhys and Gwen and their two dogs, Maggie and Molly.
Michael A. Cimino has been a certified sommelier with the Sommelier Society of America since 1993. He was sponsored by Iron Chef winner Peter X. Kelly, from the famed Xaviar’s Restaurant Group. In February of 2000 the New York Times hailed Michael as a “master of accommodating guests and selecting wines.” He went on to speak at WOR Radio’s annual Taste of New York alongside celebrity chefs Lydia Bastianich and John Halligan.
Following the fall of the Twin Towers Michael founded a restaurant consulting company, Cottage Views, and Cottage Views School of Wine. As a consultant to several high profile establishments he was awarded the Wine Spectator Award of Excellence and Wine Enthusiasts’ Award of Distinction for his contribution to the wine programs for Glenmere Mansion, The Park Steakhouse, and The Lighthouse on the Hudson.
The lectures Michael gave at Cottage Views School of Wine have been compiled into a short book for entry level culinary students “A Beginner’s Guide to Wine.”
Few people know that Michael is also an ex-musician, radio host, and music historian. He has authored the authorized biography of Joey Molland – “Badfinger and Beyond,” and has had many articles published in various music trade magazines.
A native of Hector, Jared got his first start in the wine world working summers for his uncle (Phil Davis) in the Davis’ Vineyards during high school. Following college at SUNY New Paltz and stints traveling and volunteering domestic and abroad, Jared returned to Hector to work his first harvest in 2010. In 2013 he was brought on officially as the assistant winemaker, a role he has expanded on ever since. Jared spends his free time traveling, sailing and admiring Lady Seneca. His favorite wines are the Lemberger and Gewurztraminer.
Brandy, born and raised in the Finger Lakes Region, began her immersion in the local wine industry in the late 90’s when she worked briefly for Lamoreaux Landing in the vineyard, and for a season at the former Finger Lakes Champagne House. After working retail, she joined Daminai Wine Cellars full time at the beginning of 2014 and quickly ascended to Shipping Manager. In her spare time she enjoys making and selling jewelry from stones she harvests from the Finger Lakes. Another of her many passions is involvement in the fight to change public opinion about Pit Bull Terriers and other Pit type breeds. She adores her own sweet boy, Arkham, who happens to be an excellent ambassador for his breed!
Originally from northeastern PA, Cheryl retired from a career in educational administration and relocated to Seneca Lake to be closer to family. Her previous experience at a prominent Pennsylvania winery made her a shoe-in for the Damiani staff. She says, “I love my new life, the people, and the lake!”