It’s hard to believe that the calendar has already turned to 2022. We are looking forward to an exciting year here at Donum, as we have several milestones to look forward to: achieving Organic certification for all of our vineyards this summer, finishing grafting our new Bodega Vineyard on the Sonoma Coast and beginning to plant our “pinnacle” blocks on the highest elevation on our home ranch in Carneros. We are also looking forward to our first full crop from the newly replanted Ferguson Estate Vineyard in Carneros. Considering our farming practices, the year is already off to a great start as we have seen well above average rainfall in November and December, replenishing our soils and filling our reservoirs, easing the stress of the last two drought years. The rain has our cover crops off to a roaring start in the vineyards, and our two flocks of sheep are already well into their first pass, enjoying the grasses, legumes, and oats that help build the organic matter and replenish nitrogen in the soil.
The Member Winter Allocation features the wines from our Russian River Estate Vineyard in the heart of the Russian River Valley appellation. With about 14 acres of Pinot Noir planted to four different clones, we have a broad palette to work with, allowing us to craft several varying Pinot Noir wines. The Russian River Estate Pinot Noir is blended from across the vineyard. We harvest and ferment each block individually for this wine and then create the blend after 12 months of barrel aging. The result is an expression of the Russian River Valley growing region: black cherry, cola, and dark berry, along with the structure and intensity that is the hallmark of Donum Pinot.
The lightest of the Pinot Noir wines from this vineyard is the Ten Oaks Pinot Noir, named for the ten majestic oak trees lining the north and west edges of the vineyard and made exclusively from the Pommard clone. I enjoy working with this clone because it can be picked at a wide range of ripeness levels to create wines in different styles. For the Ten Oaks, we harvest on the early side, about two weeks before the rest of the vineyard, and include about 25% whole-cluster to add the earthy, spicy, savory notes that come from the stems. Structured and firm, this wine can be enjoyed now yet often shows its best with a little time in the cellar.
The Russian River Reserve Pinot Noir is blended from the best barrels from across the vineyard. The clonal composition changes year to year, but the bulk of the blend comes from Dijon 667 clone. Characterized by small clusters and berries, this clone yields a wine with depth, complexity, and pure fruit flavors. Aged in 100% New French oak, this wine is delicious.
These Russian River Valley wines are a great choice during the colder winter months, and I hope you enjoy them this year and into the future.
Vice President, Winemaking and Vineyards