Donelan Family Wines
How do you choose which winery to visit? Do you love the scenic beauty of sprawling vineyards? Or the majesty of a stunningly constructed chateau? Or, like me, have you decided that the only important thing is the wine itself?
Which is why, on a Wednesday morning in Sonoma County where there are any number of gorgeous winery tasting rooms situated in equally gorgeous surroundings, I gently persuaded my wife Karen to come with me to an industrial park in Santa Rosa for a visit to Donelan Family Wines.
I’ve tasted some of the Donelan wines before, at a couple of Rhone Rangers events. I found them to be uniformly outstanding and was looking forward to tasting more of their lineup.
The small [6,000 case] winery is family-owned, operated by Donelan brothers Cushing and Tripp and their father Joe. Most of the wines are named after family members.
We had the opportunity to sit down with Tripp and taste through some of the wines. We started with some whites as well as a Pinot Noir:
2012 Venus Roussanne
2013 Genevieve Chardonnay
2012 Nancie Chardonnay
2012 Two Brothers Pinot Noir
They all tasted great, but to be honest I was distracted by [and practically salivating over] what I knew was coming next, the red Rhones, which I think are the wines that elevate Donelan to world-class:
2012 Cuvee Moriah
2011 Cuvee Christine Syrah
2012 Kobler Syrah
2011 Cuvee Keltie Syrah
2011 Obsidian Vineyard Syrah
The Moriah is a GSM blend [or I guess more accurately a GMS, as it is 64% Grenache, 24% Mourvedre and 12% Syrah]. The rest are all Syrahs, although the Kobler does have 10% Viognier. All really solidly made wines, with almost Old World alcohol levels without any sacrifice of the expression of fruit.
DINING IN SONOMA COUNTY
I thought I’d wrap up this series on Sonoma with a few dining recommendations.
Bravas Bar de Tapas
Great tapas restaurant in Healdsburg. Awesome patio, great energy. Excellent service and the food was delicious. We started with the Licia Albarino from their wine list, and then moved on to a couple of bottles that we had brought with us. We ordered and loved the following small plates:
Goat Cheese Toast
Spanish White Anchovies
Pork Cheek Bocadillos [little sandwiches]
Bacon Wrapped Dates [we ended up ordering these twice. So good!]
Crispy Pig Ears
Smoked Pork Riblets
[We had our friend Rick Fraga with us for this dinner, which enabled us to try a multitude of the small offerings.]
Also in Healdsburg and a continuation of the small shared plates theme. The Executive Chef is Luis Maldonado, a recent Top Chef finalist. The open dining room faces out onto Healdsburg Avenue. Here it was just Karen and me, so we only ordered a few things to go with the bottle of Collier Falls Primitivo that we brought in – beef tartare, crispy chicken wings, pork riblets and the sashimi plate.
the girl and the fig
We found ourselves in the town of Sonoma for lunch time so we stopped into this restaurant which was opened by Sondra Bernstein in 1997. Originally in Glen Ellen [which is still home to Sondra’s fig café & winebar], Sondra moved this restaurant to the Plaza in Sonoma in 2000, making it the perfect stop for hungry winetasters to grab lunch or linger over dinner.
Michael Perlis has been pursuing his passion for wine for more than 25 years. He has had the good fortune of having numerous mentors to show him the way, as well as a wonderful wife who encourages him and shares his interest. After a couple of decades of learning about wine, attending events, visiting wineries and vineyards, and tasting as much wine as he possibly could, he had the amazing luck to meet Eve Bushman. Now, as Contributing Editor for Eve’s Wine 101, he does his best to bring as much information as possible about wine to Eve’s Wine 101 faithful readers. Michael is also Vice President of Eve Bushman Consulting (fka Eve’s Wine 101 Consulting) http://evebushmanconsulting.com/ and President of MCP Financial. Michael can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com.