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The MotoDoffo Collection and Doffo Winery

Father and son Marcelo and Damian Doffo have a passion for wine and vintage Italian motorcycles.

| September/October 2017

  • The MotoDoffo collection.
    Photo by Joe Berk
  • Marcelo Doffo, patriarch, rider, racer, collector, and winemaker extraordinaire.
    Photo courtesy Doffo Winery
  • Oscar Colacilli (the cousin who sparked Marcelo’s interest in riding) in Los Surgentes, Argentina, with a 75cc Altino.
    Photo courtesy Doffo Winery
  • A 175cc 1959 Ducati F3 production racer. There are only 12 of these motorcycles in the United States.
    Photo by Joe Berk
  • A 1959 125cc Ducati twin-cam GP.
    Photo by Joe Berk
  • The 1962 125cc, 2-stroke Vicentina that started it all for Marcelo has an Italian engine in an Argentinean frame.
    Photo by Joe Berk
  • Marcelo’s 1985 Mike Hailwood Ducati Mille resides in his living room.
    Photo by Joe Berk
  • A row of scooters, yet another highlight.
    Photo by Joe Berk
  • A VADIM 250cc race bike with a Seeley frame.
    Photo by Joe Berk
  • The Gilera Saturno, proudly displayed in Marcelo’s living room.
    Photo by Joe Berk
  • The MotoBarrel Room veranda, framing the Doffo Winery vineyards with classic motorcycles.
    Photo by Joe Berk
  • Damian Doffo in the restoration and racing shop.
    Photo by Joe Berk
  • A selection of Doffo wines.
    Photo courtesy Doffo Winery

This is a story about Marcelo and Damian Doffo, a father-and-son team with a passion for vintage Italian motorcycles and fine California wines. With admirable characters, vintage motorcycles (and lots of them), vintage motorcycle racing, a motorcycle museum, fine wines, and an epic story spanning three continents, what’s not to like? In our two-wheeled classic motorcycle world, it just doesn’t get much better than this.

It all started more than a century ago when Marcelo Doffo’s grandfather, Bernardino, immigrated to Argentina from Italy. Bernardino Doffo settled in the Pampas region of Argentina and farmed wheat, corn and cattle. Marcelo grew up on that farm, taking in the agricultural arts and his shared Italian and Argentinean heritage. Times were different: There was no electricity or running water, and people got around with horses and old cars. That changed in the early 1960s when Argentina started importing Italian motorcycles. Motorcycles quickly became a dominant form of transportation, and there were soon no fewer than three dealers in young Marcelo’s hometown of Los Surgentes, Cordoba, Argentina.

To say the Argentines (and in particular, the Doffos) were enthusiastic about motorcycles would be an understatement. Marcelo’s cousin had a motorcycle and his uncle, who owned a dealership, built a dirt race track, and Marcelo’s family bought their first motorcycle, a 125cc Vicentina. As Marcelo explains it, the Vicentina’s fragile frame required a rider with good welding skills. Marcelo used the Vicentina for going to work, school, dances and on dates. Ah, to be a young Italian motorcycle rider …

Motorcycle racing was in the town’s blood, and when Ducati displayed a 175cc Sport at the local race track, Marcelo remembers feeling as if he were seeing a nave spaziale (a space ship). The Ducati had it all: candy-apple red paint, gold stripes, chrome, noise, speed — and style that just wouldn’t quit. The hook was set. We all have had that first magical encounter with a motorcycle. For me it was a 1957 Harley-Davidson Panhead parked outside a restaurant in Pennsylvania. For Marcelo Doffo it was a Ducati 175 Sport in Los Surgentes.

Coming to America

Marcelo immigrated to the United States in 1975. He had worked as an automotive body repairman in Argentina specializing in welding (the experience with the Vicentina served him well). He sailed through job interviews in the U.S. for similar positions by answering “yes” to every question; it was the only English word he knew. After a succession of body shop jobs, Marcelo started buying, repairing and selling auto wrecks one at a time, and that led to opening his own repair business. In the 1990s Marcelo visited a great-uncle in Italy who created handcrafted wines, and he decided that’s what he wanted to do. Marcelo purchased an old farm in Temecula, California, and that led to the birth of the Doffo Winery four years later.

During all of this, Marcelo’s love of motorcycling never waned. He drifted away from motorcycling as family and work intervened, but his interest was rekindled when he bought and restored a basket case Harley-Davidson. After the restoration, he rode the Harley to Hollister, California (made famous in 1953’s The Wild One starring Marlon Brando), and found that the Harley and the Harley lifestyle were not a good fit. Marcelo sold the Harley, but the restoration bug had bitten hard. The next project was a frame-up restoration of a Ducati Bronco, and that motorcycle was the seed that grew into the MotoDoffo Collection.

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