Donum Estate Review
Address: 24520 Ramal Road Sonoma,California 95476.
Phone Number: 707-939-2290
Tasting Hours: By appt.
Region: Sonoma Coast AVA, Sonoma County, Sonoma Valley AVA, Los Carneros AVA, California
Reviewer: Elizabeth Smith
Review Date: 5/1/2016
Reviewer: Elizabeth Smith
The Donum Estate, formerly part of Buena Vista Winerys Tula Vista Ranch before it was developed as an estate on its own, was created by winegrower Anne Moller-Racke, whose quest is to craft the best pinot noirs from their vineyards in Sonoma and Mendocino counties. The estates first offering, a 2001 Pinot Noir, was released in 2003. Today, the Donum team is a partnership between Anne and Winside, Inc., a company comprised of three Danish investors who love both wine and art. The team would not be complete without winemaker Dan Fishman, consulting winemaker Kenneth Juhasz, vineyard foreman Lauro Servin, and sales and hospitality director Shannon Muracchioli.
My recent visit to The Donum Estate was my second visit, the first being in November 2015. I loved the experience so much that when given the opportunity to return, I seized it. While the first visit was a trade visit, this one was with a small group of visitors who called themselves wine lovers, but beginners when it came to their knowledge of wine production and describing wines.
We arrived in different vehicles and I was the last to arrive, partly because I was paying great attention to the beauty of Carneros as I approached the estate. Rolling vineyards extend as far as the eye can see, from miles inland to the San Pablo Bay. The land is mostly undeveloped except for the wineries, residences, and a few small businesses. Its my favorite area of Napa and Sonoma.
The Donum Estate is comprised of 70 beautiful acres adorned by vineyards, a few farm buildings, farm animals, and phenomenal sculptures curated by the investors, including a circle of the Chinese Zodiac and a smaller replica of the famous Wall Street Bull. Our host for the day, Laura, greeted us with a glass of the only white wine made by Donum, the 2014 Carneros Chardonnay ($60), and led us on a brief tour of the splendor that is this estate. While the chardonnay sees oak aging (53% new French oak), it is still intensely flavored with citrus, tropical, and tree fruits, as well as a bit of spice. It was the ideal accompaniment to our walk around the property.
After the tour, Laura led us to an open-faced barn, which offered its own spectacular view. We were seated at a table to taste four of their single-vineyard pinot noirs from the Carneros ranch, their 16-acre Winside Vineyard (Russian River Valley), and their Angel Camp Vineyard (Anderson Valley, Mendocino County). At each place setting was our Burgundy-style Riedel glass, a placemat map of the estate, and a personalized tasting menu with a welcome message addressing us by first name. We tasted the 2013 Russian River Valley Ten Oaks ($72), 2013 Anderson Valley ($72), 2013 Carneros Estate ($72), and 2012 East Slope Carneros Estate ($90). Laura described the source and production of each wine but allowed each of us to taste in our own way, not telling us what we should taste, but rather understanding that every persons palate is different. The tasting experience was elevated, yet relaxed. Each pinot noir was well received by the group with lots of oohs and ahhs. My favorite was the 2012 East Slope Carneros Estate, which denotes the allure of single-vineyard Carneros pinot noir, a harmony of floral aromas, dark and red berry flavors, minerality, texture, and acidity.
At the conclusion of the tasting, we discussed how everyone felt about The Donum Estate experience, especially since the majority of the group considered themselves to be wine novices. Everyone raved about how educational and friendly Laura was, how comfortable they felt, and how the entire visit demonstrated The Donum Estates passion for wine and art; from the stunning property to the magnificent sculptures, and finally to the superb wines, the ultimate expression of cool-climate chardonnay and pinot noir. I could not have agreed more.