Horrific news out of Napa today: yesterday afternoon, Dahl Vineyards owner and Napa Point Brewing co-founder Robert Dahl allegedly shot and killed a former investor, Emad Tawfilis, outside of his Yountville vineyard before turning the gun on himself. According to the Press Democrat, the two men were engaged in a longtime business dispute centering on a $1.2 million debt that Dahl owed to Tawfilis' Lexington Street Investments, which Tawfilis asserted had been used for businesses other than the one to which he'd made the loan. After a prolonged legal battle, the pair had been working on putting together a financial settlement.
Dahl and Tawfilis were apparently taking a break from hashing out the financial details of the agreement (with both of their attorneys on speakerphone, no less) when the violent incident occurred. The Napa County Sheriff's Office, which is not officially confirming either man's identity, received multiple calls reporting a shooting at the vineyard, with one from an undisclosed man saying he was in danger and a man was coming after him. Deputies who arrived on the scene witnessed a man armed with a handgun (presumably Dahl) chasing another, unarmed man (presumably Tawfilis) through the vines. Before they could reach the duo, the unarmed man had been fatally shot in the head; the assailant escaped in a black SUV, with Napa police and a CHP helicopter giving chase. A SWAT team was eventually able to corner the SUV in the wooded hills between Sonoma and Napa, and after approaching the vehicle, found the driver dead of an apparently self-inflicted gunshot wound.
Dahl, a former owner of a Minnesota chemical manufacturing business who moved to the Napa area six years ago, was a "a new wheeler and dealer, and he wanted to play big in the Napa Valley, and I think there were visions of grandeur," Lewis Perdue, whose Wine Industry Insight had closely followed the Dahl-Tawfilis legal dispute, told the Press Democrat. Dahl's first attempt at a Napa venture, the Napa Point brewery, shuttered a few years after opening; the vineyard, his most recent venture, opened in 2013. There's no word as of yet regarding Dahl Vineyards' future; Tawfilis' attorney, David Wiseblood, and Dahl's attorney, Kousha Berokim, both expressed shock and horror at the killings. "It's just awful," Wiseblood told the Chron. "It's senseless and tragic. It's a sad way to see lives ruined and ended."