Wisdom, Adventure, and Discovery from our 2012 Venus
Adventure and Discovery are concepts that have struck a chord in me recently. They’re very inherent parts of a Journey, which is my family’s chosen metaphor for life. Adventure is more of the essence, the gusto, the unknown of the journey you’re on, while discovery is what you reap along the way — the stories, the mistakes, the lessons, the beautiful objects, and the memories. They’re tokens collected on this journey, or the rewards we get for choosing adventure.
About six weeks ago, I received an interesting email from someone in the UK asking if I would participate in a wine tasting for a group of his customers. The experience was to be centered around the Donelan Family Wines 2012 Venus. I was immediately intrigued.How did he get ahold of our 2012 Venus, and how is it tasting right now? I can tell you I don’t get inquiries like this one often, but when they do reach me it’s the most pleasant surprise. The curiosity and the excitement spark something in me, like striking two pieces of flint together, offering them a breath of fresh air, and seeing that small flame in your palms. Adventure and discovery right there in your hands. It’s a gift and a true joy to see our wine’s rich backstories reaching people from all walks of life, and inspiring them to learn, connect, and be adventurous.
So, I called my new friend Tim and asked him how he found this wine. He said he discovered the 2012 Venus in Brighton, England at a shop owned by a chap named Henry Butler. As it turns out, I met Henry about a decade ago, several more times in London with my sons, and even visited his outstanding Brighton shop — if you have the chance to visit when the world opens up, please do. You will not be disappointed. With all these dots connected, revealing an adventure that had been unfolding for years out of my field of vision, I was even more intrigued. I told Tim to count me in on his tasting, scheduled for St. Patrick’s Day. After I got off the phone, I went to my cellar to see if I had a bottle of the 2012 Venus. Alas, I didn’t — your own wine can be the most elusive. I had to know how it was tasting, so I called our winemaker David Milner in Sonoma and told him to take a bottle home for dinner. That night, David said it was “humming” and boy, was he on the money. The 2012 Venus tasted out of this world and glimmered with parallels to Jean-Louis Chave White Hermitage, an apogee of European winemaking. I was officially captivated. I couldn’t believe it was sitting in our cellar and tasting this extraordinary. I couldn’t wait to make new friends over a bottle of Donelan Family 2012 Venus at the tasting. What an adventure. What a discovery. This is why we make wine.
After our tasting, I started wondering if we had enough of this vintage, plus a few others, to share. I wanted everyone to taste what we just experienced, to understand the enchantment of this wine that’s singing like some of the best white Rhônes ever made. David was on the same page, and came up with the great idea to pull four older vintages of Venus, offer them to you all as a special Vertical or individual bottles, and then in a few weeks get together on Zoom to discuss, drink, and discover.
I suppose the moral of this interesting turn of events is to choose adventure. Life is filled with it, especially in all it’s familiar nooks and crannies, like in your wine cellar. Life is also short and too often we’re taught to savor things, protect them, keep them special, closed, and quiet. But the truth is we don’t always need to save things in order to cherish them. You have to try things ‘just because’, like opening a rare bottle of wine in your cellar, or email a winery owner in another country on a whim, in order to get joy out of life. So I encourage you to go into your wine cellar, open something you’ve been saving, reach out or reconnect with people, share with others, and see what you discover. Choose adventure and you might help someone else choose it, too. Our journeys are intertwined, afterall.
I hope you’ll join David and I on May 13th | 6pm EST for an evening dedicated to adventure, discovery, and captivating wines like the 2012 Venus.