We are a small, boutique Sonoma winery producing Syrah, Grenache, Pinot Noir, Chardonnay, Roussanne and Viognier. We have elected to prize quality over all other factors. Simply put, we think wine should taste great — with every vintage and every grape, this is our ultimate priority and our greatest motivation.
We believe that the best wines are not made but discovered. We take pride in harnessing the greatest qualities and natural variations in a vineyard and a variety. We make wine with patience, embracing the mystery of what nature gives us.
Joe Donelan, Founder: Joe began his journey of wine discovery in the 1980s, led by an inspired sommelier at Toppers Restaurant on Nantucket. His love of wine soon led him on a journey to California, where he established a wine business that is now called Donelan Family Wines. For Joe, exceptional wines gives all of us a personal connection to the land, to nature and the people who make it. He personally calls all new customers and hand-writes thank you notes for each order, whether it’s a single bottle or ten cases.
David Milner, Winemaker: David was born and raised in Northern California in a suburban town known as Fairfield. While David was attending Sonoma State University, his roommate worked for a local winery and would bring home wine to taste almost daily. This exposure to wine allowed David to discover its qualities and “ignite the spark.” He was surprised at how much there was to learn, and from then on, he was hooked. The fermentation bug bit David while he was taking an undergraduate brewing class. He continued to hone his skills over batches of home brewed beer with a few friends, and it left David looking for a new challenge. He had a stint in cheesemaking, but wine would eventually become his real passion.
For us, identifying a top-notch vineyard is like hearing a great song for the first time. It’s immediately identifiable. It has no blue-print for duplication. It won’t let go of you. In a word, it is genuine.
From these extraordinary vineyards, we produce compelling wines year after year, doing our best to read their cues and allow their terroir to shine. The map below illustrates the depth of our obsession. From the cool-climate, redwood fringed Perli Vineyard in the Mendocino County AVA to a collection of wild sites we love in the Bennett Valley AVA, our journeys across Northern California have been exhaustive — but they have been so worth it.
Obsidian Vineyard: Named after the black volcanic glass in the bedrock beneath the vines, our estate vineyard is one of the most unique in California. Here, the vines grow on a steep perch above the Franz Valley floor in the Knights Valley. While Obsidian is one of our warmest sites, it is also our most free draining soil, which leads to extremely low vigor, tiny berries and a flavor concentration that is nothing short of ethereal.
Richards Vineyard: What the Richards Vineyard has taught us is that, sometimes, the best thing we can do as winemakers is step aside and let terroir do the heavy-lifting.
Walker Vine Hill Vineyard: Our last vintage from the Walker Vine Hill Vineyard is the final step in its long journey with Donelan Family Wines. This bittersweet ending finishes on an incredibly high note, leaving no cliffhangers. The 2013 Walker Vine Hill is evidence of our growth in winemaking, from identifying the unique attributes of a vineyard to understanding optimum pick dates and how to treat each lot in the cellar.
Kobler Family Vineyard:In the heart of the Green Valley of the Russian River Valley, this vineyard grows Syrah and Viognier that create gorgeous and savory offerings.