Posts Tagged ‘Donelan’

Don't Miss this Saturday's Open House at Donelan Family Wines in Santa Rosa

Wine Aficionados , especially Rhone lovers,  have an opportunity for a special treat this Saturday. Donelan Family Wines, a  boutique winery which  is normally open by appointment only, is opening its doors, bottles and barrels as a treat, as well as showing off its newly renovated tasting room and winery. There is also a (limited space) seminar, by one of my favorite winemakers, Tyler Thomas.

A Unique and Talented Winemaker

Thanks to an introduction via Vinecrowd, I have had the opportunity to spend some time with Tyler and interview him, as well as welcome him as the newest member of the Rhone Rangers. (One of my roles as a new board member.) Donelan and Tyler captured my attention at my #chardonnay day event. Their inuagural chardonnay release, Nancie, was one of the top 3 wines picked by attendees, and my personal favorite of the day.

Later I went to the winery to spend more time with Tyler to taste through his wines, talk about his winemaking practices, and just talk shop.

I already knew as a “shepherd of the yeast” Tyler was talented and creative. Tasting through the rest of the portfolio simply reinforced that. What

also struck me about Tyler was his strong grasp of the industry, trends, and marketing.

I spend a lot of time with wineries, especially small ones, and generally you find two different skill sets, and individuals, driving success. The artisan, 'left brain' winemaker, focused on making the very best wine he or she can, but  not always in touch with the aspects of marketing and branding.  Often a second person “right brain”  person on the team focuses and executes on sales & marketing, a different but equally critical set of skills. The best vintage of your career means nothing if no one is aware of it to purchase.

Tyler is a talented winemaker, innovate, and technically very deep. He is also passionate about the business aspects and as we sat and discussed marketing techniques, events, industry trends, and eager to learn more and try new things.  I was truly impressed, and excited when Donelan Wines decided to join the Rhone Rangers national organization, and will be a part of our new North Coast Chapter, an effort I am spearheading. Donelan and Tyler's wines and energy, enthusiasm, are a welcome addition.custom essay writing service


RSVP for Limited Seminar: Cuvees: Building Northern Rhone Blends

From 1-2 pm Tyler is giving a seminar  about the process of making Northern Rhone inspired wines. Donelan’s goal  is to produce the best wines possible using only the best-of-the-best juice from our unique, cool climate Sonoma County terroirs.  The careful process of  blending barrels is key in producing outstanding signature cuvees and single vineyard wines. Tyler will discuss how Donelan makes complete wines of certain styles and illustrate his points with tastings.  Learn & taste the process that results in a ‘complete’ wine: complex aromas, perceived depth and weight on the palate, a long pleasing finish, and tremendous balance. In essence what makes a Donelan wine a Donelan wine. Seating is limited, an RSVP IS required. Call 203 658 1248.

You can also see a video about the seminar  on Donelan’s new blog:  just click here.

2-4 PM – Open House, Barrel Samples and Other Rare Treats

From 2-4 pm the public is invited to taste Donelan’s latest vintage with an assortment of charcuterie and cheeses. In addition to the 2009 vintage they will be pouring barrel samples of three wines: the incredible new 2010 Donelan “Two Brothers” Pinot Noir, the  2010 Donelan “Nancie” Chardonnay  and the 2009 Richard’s Family Vineyard Syrah. These three wines are produced in extremely limited quantities. This will be an extraordinary chance to taste these amazing wines.

Donelan is normally open by appointment only, so don’t miss this chance to spend an afternoon learning, tasting and meeting this talented team.

By the way, they are in a business park in Santa Rosa that houses 3 other open wineries, Inspiration Vineyards, Carol Shelton, and the new Vinoteca tasting room. Visit these 3 members of the Santa Rosa Wine Trail and make a day of it without having to drive! (Remember a to put a cooler in your car for your wine purchases!)

See you there, followed by Russian River Valley  Hog in The Fog after! Cheers!

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May 26th is International #Chardonnay Day. Here's how to follow, participate, celebrate

There is a growing new phenomenon that combines  wine tasting and social media  – virtual tastings.  There are numerous ways to do these, but the concept is consistent.  People all over the state, country, even the world, participate in sharing wine. Sometimes its via the same producer, with samples sent to media, sometime its for a winery sales training or wine club, sometimes its recognition and celebration of a wine variety.

Generally someone takes the lead as organizer, sets the stage, and people join in, as co-hosts, or participants. The social media platform Twitter, is generally the platform used to share tasting notes, comments etc, especially by trade, media, bloggers, and passionate consumers. In my experience the stronger and social media adept the leader, the better the event. And vice versa. This one is led by Rick Bakas, one of the earliest leaders of wine social

media, and very adept at this venue.

Why Wineries Should Care – And Participate

Rick will share the final stats, but the pre-event mentions, views, and impressions are very impressive, already surpassing millions, and for much of the world the event hasn't kicked in yet. (It is drinking time in Australia.) Its a great way to promote your flagship varietal, release and brand, and be a part of the virtual community. AVA's and Growers should care too.

Or just sit on the sidelines and watch…this whole social media thing is a fad, right? Kinda like what they said about the Internet. Facebook doesn't really have 500 million users, 200 million mobile (excludes China) and is the number one website in world…really.

What the heck is the # In Front of Chardonnay?

Its Twitterspeak. It's called a Hashtag. Nothing to do with Amsterdam. Its basically a sorting mechanism. If you go to Twitter main page or to and type in something with a the hashtag, you can see all the latest “Tweets' that have mentioned that hashtag.

It may be a common one like #fail or #followfriday or #nascar. Some are just made up and silly, others are created speficically for an event by the organizer. Since Tweets only allow 140 characters, and are suggested to stay at around 120 (except for Robert Parker, who can't stick to 140.) generally we keep them as short as possible. Wine Road Barrel Tasting = #WRBT. Rhone Rangers San Francisco Tasting= #RRSF. Sometimes the year is added like Taste Alexander Valley = #TAV11.

So I am not on Twitter, Does that Mean I Am excluded?

By no means. First of all I always encourage the SOCIAL in Social Media. Get the heck off your phone and PC and go interact with live human beings. There are many wineries offering tastings, gatherings and more.  You can find information in several places including as well as

Rick Bakas,  wrote an excellent summary article: Everyone is Invited to the Virtual Tasting Table.”

You can also follow just by using your web browser, regardless if you are on Twitter. Just go to and in the search field type #chardonnay or click here.

Look the Aussies are already at it!

Personal Event: Hosting 11 Special Producers for 80 Attendees – Greenhouse Tasting

My new 1.4 acre small farm, soon to be new vineyard ,in Russian River Valley has a greenhouse that I have been using for wine tastings.

As my own contribution, I have gathered 11 producers of many different styles, and areas: Russian River, Napa Valley, Central Coast, Mendocino, Sonoma Coast and styles; medium bodied California, unoaked/stainless 'naked', neutral oak French/Burgundian.

California Chardonnay fought for years with a bad reputation,  and has finally earned a respectable position, by steering away from the heavy oak, Malolactic butter bombs, affectionately also known as 'coug

ar juice' in many circles. (If that needs more explaining, let me know in comments.)

The secondary hashtag for my event, in addition to #chardonnay is #NOCG (no cougar juice.)

I was one of those “ABC – Anything But Chardonnay” people for years until I discovered the incredible wide range both in California, and especially globally. Since no-one would fly in from France or Australia, we are sticking to California.

A Special Lot of Producers for the Greenhouse Tasting.

If I may say so myself, we are damn lucky to have such a range of producers, many small and hard to find, all of high quality.  These include:

  • Rivino Winery from Mendocino will pour their stainless/no ML chardonnay. 
  • kopriva – Pouring their Carneros unoaked Chardonnay paired with Hog Island Oysters.
  • VineCrowd (representing k. furtado & Hirsch) VineCrowd is a new site that provides wine drinkers with the opportunity to connect directly to a handful of cutting edge, independent wineries through a user-friendly social web driven website. Pouring the 2009 Hirsch Vineyards Chardonnay and the k. furtado Bien Nacido Chardonnay. They will also have producer Donelan Wines will be pouring their  2009 Donelan Nancie Chardonnay
  • Chamisal Vineyards from San Luis Obispo will be pouring:
    -Chamisal Vineyards (Edna Valley) – 2010 Stainless Chardonnay and 2008 Estate Chardonnay-Pine Ridge Vineyards (Napa Valley) – 2008 Dijon Clones Chardonnay (Carneros)

Most tables will also have a simple food pairing to showcase their wine. $5 donation requested to offset costs.

We are also fortunate to have Rick Bakas, being based in Marin, to attend.

We had a few cancellations from attendees, and will also waitlist. Please RSVP on Eventbrite at

If we are at room capacity, and you have not RSVP, you may be turned away. Check in and name tags are also streamlined via RSVPs.

More Coming

Based on enthusiasm both by producers and attendees I think I may be onto something. Look for an upcoming #Pinot day in conjunction with Ed Thralls, as well as a Rhone variety day, on behalf of the Rhone Rangers, and perhaps teamed up with another organization. Additionally I have held a few private wine maker tastings and look to more, as well as a few 'secret' dinners by guest chefs.

I have several other significant updates for readers and the industry, but those will have to wait until next week – until then, enjoy #chardonnay day, and cheers!


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