Our Fall 2016 Release is Here!

After three vintages under the direction of our winemaker, Joe Nielsen, we are pleased to announce the Fall 2016 release, which encompasses wines from each vintage he has produced so far. We are truly excited about how he has made his mark on these carefully crafted wines, honoring the terroir of each vineyard—leaving us totally captivated by the purity, complexity and intrigue of each wine.

In the cellar you will often hear Joe Nielsen describe the wines in terms of music to articulate the philosophy of “less is more” – some of the greatest musicians play softly. His priority is to preserve purity and enhance the individual personality of each wine within the portfolio. He has achieved this by spending increasing amounts of time in the vineyard with the cellar team so that they understand each vineyard intimately and live up to the Donelan Wines mission of quality without exception.

With the excellent work from the winemaking team, we know that we have a stellar line-up of wines including two 2013 Syrahsbrand new single-vineyard Pinot Noir and a limited-release 2015 Viognier. Like proud parents, we are overjoyed by these new wines and know you too will find them exceptional. These wines truly capture the personalities of very special vineyards.

In this release:

2015 Kobler Viognier limited amount available


2014 Cushing’s Block Pinot Noir


2013 Cuvee Christine Syrah 96+ pts RP, 96 pts AG


2013 Richards Family Syrah



As a quick recap, the 2013 vintage produced wines of incredible purity and intensity – very complex and concentrated while preserving elegance. The 2014 vintage came earlier than 2013 – the first vintage that Donelan Wines finished picking all vineyards before October. The wines from 2014 have an exotic quality that is extremely appealing, with great texture and, in some cases, more approachable than in any previous vintage. In 2015, Sonoma County experienced extremely low yields and irregular ripening brought on by challenging conditions during grapevine flowering.  The 2015 wines are full of life and verve, with richness to boot. Despite small quantities, we are thrilled with the wines and excited to introduce the vintage.  The results have been simply amazing.




2015 Kobler Family Vineyard Viognier 

The Kobler Viognier is the first glimpse at the 2015 vintage and we are happy to report that it is spectacular. We want to especially thank Mike Kobler of Kobler Family Vineyard for picking the fruit himself at the last minute, as a rollercoaster of a heat wave rocked the vineyards of Sonoma County —helping us preserve the true nature of this delicate wine.

Each vintage of the Viognier continues to unveil the many facets of this tiny block of vines. The nose brims with honeydewkiwi fruit and white peaches. We love how this wine marries incredible fruit with alluring savory qualities, more lavender oil in the 2015 than the white pepper of previous vintages.

The hallmark of the palate is its freshness and salinity, a beautiful backdrop to the honeysuckle and apricots. This tiny production wine continues to be a delight to make and to drink.

2013 Cuvée Christine Syrah 96+ pts RP, 96 pts AG

The Cuvée Christine continues to be a wine that is slow to evolve in the blending process, as we strive to ensure that all components of Syrah fit together in harmony, showcasing the personality of the blend as a whole.  It opens a door into our Sonoma County, like walking through the wardrobe into Narnia.

2013 Cuvée Christine gave us the chance to show off our ability to break up vineyards into many lots, promoting diversity within the finished wines and allowing those sections to reveal their true selves. Christine is made up of some of our best vineyard blocks, producing a seamless and profound wine.

On the nose, Christine is all about darkness: smoked brisket, baking chocolate, plum and black currants.  On the palate, the vintage exhibits dynamic flavors and richness with ample acidity. The youthful aromatics and striking freshness will lend longevity to this wine, making it tough to choose between drinking early or cellaring for age. Either would be a good choice for the refined 2013 Cuvée Christine.


2014 Cushing’s Block Pinot Noir

After a chance trip down a country road in Bennett Valley with one of our growers, we were introduced to an unbelievable site named Barbed Oak Vineyard. This vineyard gave us butterflies in our stomach at first glance—we had an immediate crush. With rolling, gravel hills planted to heritage clones of Pinot Noir and dotted with orange roses, the vineyard is stunning and produces a striking wine.

Known to us as Cushing’s Block, named after Joe & Christine’s son, this is the third Pinot Noir to be released by Donelan Wines and an exceptional one. The tiny, toy-like clusters produce seductive flavors, bursting with ripe blackberry, black currant and fig.

Bennett Valley has become a key AVA for Donelan Wines. Its cool mornings and moderate temperatures allow for extended hang-time without producing over-ripeness. The 2014 Cushing’s Block displays this perfectly, with the exciting contradiction between dark, concentrated fruit and bright acidity.

Barbed Oak Vineyard is the crème-de-la-crème of exceptional sites. With the small volume of this inaugural vintage, we urge you to purchase early as the allocation is first come, first serve.


2013 Richards Vineyard Syrah

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. The stress on the vines during the growing season has produced a wine intensely steeped in a sense-of-place. Each sip is a step on a journey, as you turn over each stone in the vineyard, taste the lavender in the air and smell the verdant redwoods that surround this small but majestic vineyard of 2,200 vines. This is the feeling we have as we make and taste this wine, and what we hope you will all feel as you pop one of these special bottles.

The wine opens with a nose of sage, truffle, and a sweet-savory richness reminiscent of foie-gras. It evolves into a world of fine, French chocolates, then hot fudge, and finally sea-salted chocolate. While it is certainly decadent, its nuances and layers evolve in the glass in new and interesting ways with every taste – perfect for a long evening.


We are frequently asked if any wine critics review our wines. We are pleased and very proud to report that Robert Parker gave the 2013 Cuvée Christine a 96+ and Antonio Galloni a 96.  The other wines in this release letter will be reviewed over the next six months. Christine is very happy with her scores and reviews.

We encourage you to act fast on this Fall release offer as several of the items are of high demand and low production.  Please do not hesitate to call us at 707-591-0782 or email us at mail@donelanwines.com with any questions you may have.   We appreciate your continued support!

Wishing you a wonderful Fall,

The Donelan Family Wines Team

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