The Donelan Family Vineyards
Ballet. It’s technical, it’s expressive, it’s fluid, and it shares the exact DNA of the Donelan Family vineyards. They scoured every nook and cranny of California and returned with an extensive trove of terrain, each piece more stunning and eccentric than the last. The Donelans know just how to put the land’s muscles into motion while letting its genes shine through—undisturbed and authentic—down to the bedrock. Every property is a formulaic dance between the hand of man and the course of nature.
Under the watchful eye of Mt. Saint Helena and her Knights Valley garrison rests the Donelan Family’s estate vineyard—an obsidian crown jewel. Some of California’s oldest Syrah vines flourish in Obsidian Vineyard, fortified in a shrapnel bed of volcanic glass and warm, rocky soil. Last year, California’s horrific wildfires struck this estate vineyard; but fire is in Obsidian’s blood, and like a phoenix rising from the ashes, it’s making a comeback that’s downright relentless.
The vineyard’s ancient earth fuels vines that extract sweet notes of flowers and dark fruit, marinates them with deep minerals and tobacco, and like the transformation of a diamond, welds them into small red grapes. Year after year, this hallowed ground forges a living, breathing, paradox of Syrah flavors that Joe Donelan calls “weightless power” and winemaker Joe Nielson calls “contradiction in a glass.” Obsidian Vineyard is a gentle but sovereign double-edged sword, and it swings at the Donelan Family’s side.
Obsidian’s princess counterpart is Richards Vineyard, and she is pure magic. There is sorcery in the soil that transcends time and conjures up flavors from even the deepest memories of the property. Two thousand vines cast a spell of romance and old European charm, cultivating grapes potent with hints of the land’s original lavender farm. Just like the complexity of the ground, the Richards’ Syrah is full of bewitching layers. A sultry trifecta of salted chocolates, wild truffles, and age-old herbs give the wine the power to be in two eras at once. Richards Vineyard is a limbo of Old World delicacies and New World dynamics.
Walker Vine Hill Vineyard
If Walker Vine Hill were a person, it would be a wise American with California roots. Naturally sculpted like a coliseum, the vineyard’s location is perfectly situated within the Russian River Valley, where water flanking the property carries in fog that cools off the terrain from the day’s heat. Every aspect of the terroir works in tandem, rhythmically kneading the elements to mold velvety clusters of grapes. The push and pull of nature’s labor energizes the Syrah crop with hints of chocolate covered blueberries and red currants. This vineyard is proof of the decades-old oath between the Donelan Family and the California land, and an art reminiscent of the original American pioneers. Walker Vine Hill Vineyard is as sage as it gets.
Kobler Family Vineyard
Cogs and hammers of nutrients methodically cranking away within the soil, and pulleys of vines moving acids and flavors from ground to grape; the Kobler Family Vineyard is a well-oiled green machine, and the Donelans are at the helm. This coastal terrain is special, as it is home to both Syrah and Viognier grapes. Imagine a twisting underground infrastructure of aromas of white peaches, stone, chutney, dark berries, and herbs, the two varietals constantly chambering and triggering flavor, growth, and high-caliber aging abilities. With both the Donelan’s careful attention to ripeness and the land’s cool atmosphere in the crosshairs, the Kobler Family Vineyard wines come out structured yet free, releasing distinct flavors with a sniper’s precision and the layered impact of an explosion.
Curators of the Earth
And there you have it.
When the Donelans went looking for vineyard property, they tapped into a skill innate to mankind, as ancient as wine, and faithful to their dogma that “wine is a journey, not a destination.” The Donelans don’t ask land to kowtow to them, nor do they want blank slates to groom into breeding grounds for grapes. They want land with unmistakable moxie, with poise that speaks to the soul, with essence that would bring Thoreau and Emerson to their knees. The Donelan Family finds land of milk and honey, and from it they get wine.