Grapes of Wrath: A tale of money, wine and murder in Napa

It was a business deal right out of a Hollywood movie. An investor in a Napa Valley winery ponied up $800,000 cash in an effort to make a fortune in the wine business. What he didn’t realize then was that he was investing in his own murder.

“He shot me! He’s coming after me in his truck,” investor Emad Tawfilis shouted to a 911 dispatcher as he triemod to outrun Robert Dahl through the California vineyard.

As California’s wine country begins to rebuild after wildfires that tore through it last fall, Tracy Smith and “48 Hours” investigate the unlikely showdown between Tawfilis and Dahl that gripped the region three years ago.

Robert Dahl, left, and Emad Tawfilis

It’s a case that exposes the unusual relationship between Dahl, an entrepreneur drawn to the glamour of the Napa Valley wine scene, and Tawfilis, a wealthy Silicon Valley businessman willing to turn over his nest egg – in cash stuffed in a gym bag – to the entrepreneur with big plans.

“Money is intoxicating… and when you mix money and wine, I think you get intoxicated to the second or third power,” says Lew Perdue, a tech entrepreneur and wine writer.

Dahl and Tawfilis both wanted to be in the lucrative wine business. That didn’t work out as planned. The deal wasn’t as it seemed and led to mistrust and a lawsuit. What followed was a story of ambition, greed and stunning deception that unraveled in the same fields both men thought would make them richer.

What went wrong between these two millionaires? What led to murder in the vineyard?


Police dispatcher: We have a male saying, “Help me! Help me!” … be advised the subject’s saying that he has been shot again twice now … there’s other people on the scene…

It was a showdown between millionaires Robert Dahl and Emad Tawfilis

KPIX: Wild details of a shocking murder in the Napa Valley. …A bitter money dispute ends in an execution-style shooting. This all started at Dahl Vineyards on Solano Avenue…

They were a couple of ambitious wine lovers who wanted to be in the business and own their own vineyards. But it ended in murder.

So “48 Hours” came to Napa Valley to figure out what happened, and what we discovered is really interesting. It turns out that no less than four people thought that they could have ended up targets of the killer, too.

Dawn King | Private investigator: It could have been me running through that vineyard ducking bullets.

Lew Perdue | Wine writer: I was probably number one on his list to kill.

Francine Knittel | Friend…

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