2013 Walker Vine Hill Vineyard


This last vintage of Walker Vine Hill Syrah is bittersweet, ending on its highest note yet. Over the years, we have learned how to approach every block of this nuanced site – some as small as two rows. In 2013, we made fourteen distinct lots, like variations on a theme, kept separate to draw out each component of Walker Vine Hill, and thus, producing the most honest and dynamic version of this beloved wine.

The 2013 Walker Vine Hill is driven by an extremely seductive nose with chocolate-covered blueberries, currants, and clove. The palate is densely constructed with velvety tannins and a long, full finish. The distinctive color, unique to the site, lingers on the glass like a rock star waving from the stage one last time on a farewell tour.

997 cases produced

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Video Terroir

Robert Parker

2013 Walker Vine Hill Vineyard


Located just west of the heart of the Russian River Valley, Walker Vine Hill is another Russian River vineyard surrounded by Pinot noir and Chardonnay. The secret of the vineyard seems to be the small hills on three compass points that form a bowl opened toward the east. This shelters the property from some of the cool air of the Russian River, raising the temperatures enough throughout the season to produce a wine with a core of blue fruit.

Syrah Tasting Notes

Robert Parker

2013 Walker Vine Hill Vineyard

Tasting Notes

The 2013 pulls the best traits from each vintage of Walker Syrah’s history at Donelan Wines: 2008’s richness, 2009’s acidity, 2010’s purity, 2011’s spice and 2012’s structure. The final blend is driven by an extremely seductive nose with chocolate covered blueberries, red currants, and clove unfolding on the nose. The palate is densely constructed with velvety tannins and a long, full finish.

Terroir Past Vintages

2013 Walker Vine Hill Vineyard

Past Vintages


From the heart of Pinot Noir and Chardonnay country comes Walker Vine Hill Syrah, a standard-bearer for fruit-forward, New World Syrah. The cool Russian River breezes in 2012 delayed ripening until the end of September, allowing the vineyard to show its characteristic blue fruit at a modest 13.7% ABV. Richness pairs with acidity to make an age-worthy contrast.

After years of experience with this site, we have come to understand each block individually. In 2012, we fermented seven different wines from Walker Vine Hill, with varying degrees of stem-inclusion and oak regimes, maximizing the intricate layers within the vineyard. The backbone of the 2012 Syrah is the original 20-year old planting, providing vivid blueberry and focused structure. Other blocks strike distinct yet harmonious chords – a younger parcel with smaller clusters lends concentration; yet another adds spiced plum – exotic in a Syrah. The result is a cuvée within a single vineyard, adorning a seductive Syrah with a sophisticated veil.



Consistent with the selective vintage of 2010, the 2011 is possibly the most elegant vintage to date, due to the cooler temperatures and slow ripening of the vineyard. While the wine is structurally similar to the 2009, the wine’s nose is closer to the 2010 and 2008.

100% Syrah fermented 45% whole cluster and aged 24 months in French barriques (30% new), blueberry and fresh plum emerge immediately from the glass. This wine carries classic Walker Vine Hill aromas of clove, blueberry, and herb-encrusted roast game and the finish suggests classic, dark-chocolate-dipped fruit and hints of silk. The mouth feel is fresh and full of vitality.


The 2010 has both the sexiness of the 2008 with the structure and purity of 2009. The mouth feel is a textural representation of silk if there ever was one but with focus and tension on the finish. This wine is a fruit lover’s dream but neither over done nor exhausting: another beauty.

Wine Advocate: 95pts


Once again we learn what this vineyard can produce by segmenting its subtle variation into several wine lots. We are beginning to unveil the core sections of the vineyard that produce the finest Syrah, allowing us to farm each vineyard fragment according to its needs. The 2009 has terrific tension on the palate and may be the most age-worthy Walker produced to date. This is an intense wine – though not exhausting – with explosive aromas of cherry, blueberry, maple, and herb encrusted roast game. The mouth feel is firmer than previous vintages but has the characteristic depth and richness typical of Walker Vine Hill: a beautiful year for this outstanding property.

Wine Advocate: 98pts


Ever heard of Synesthesia? Webster’s defines it as “a subjective sensation or image of a sense (as of color) other than the one begin stimulated.” In other words, taste and smell could invoke a sense of color for some individuals. I’ve never experienced it myself, but if I did I think it would be with Walker Vine Hill 2008. Each year this Walker Vine Hill wine evokes the color blue, like its wax top, over and over again. Pure plums and blueberry provide a dark “blue” core for other components like smoke and flint to complement. The aromatics are enticing, seductive, and have tremendous purity. The 2008 is silky and smooth, with several layers and dimensions encouraging another sip. We’d be surprised if this wine was not consumed within 5 years (it’s that hard not to throw back!), but it could certainly evolve beyond that time frame. Enjoy!

Wine Advocate: 94-97pts

Tasting Notes Video
92+ points
Robert Parker

2013 Walker Vine Hill Vineyard


Past Vintages Syrah