Donelan Family Wines

Owner(s) Joe Donelan
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Donelan Family Wines

A boutique family owned and operated winery from Sonoma County producing Pinot Noir, Chardonnay and Rhone varietal wines.

Joe Donelan was a partner with winemaker Pax Mahle in the early 2000s specializing in Syrah (Pax). Their partnership went a long way toward giving California Syrah an identity. They emphasized site-specific wines from Northern California. Unfortunately an ugly fallout occurred in 2008. More recently, Donelan has forged ahead with Donelan Family Wines after hiring a new winemaker, Tyler Thomas. Thomas' assistant, Joe Nielsen eventually took over.

Syrah is the focus of this winery, but Chardonnay, Viognier, and white Rhone blends are offered. The singular Pinot Noir, "Two Brothers," is from an unnamed vineyard in the Sonoma Coast. The fruit had never previously been sold to another producer. 50% whole cluster inclusion, indigenous yeast fermentations, aged 18 months in only 25% new French oak. The wine is named "Two Brothers" after Joe Donelan's two sons and the 2009 vintage is the first offering of Pinot Noir.

The wines are sold through a mailing list.

Reviewed Wines

2015 Donelan Cushing’s Block Barbed Oak Vineyard Bennett Valley Pinot Noir

14.4% alc., 222 cases, $78. Heritage clones. Vineyard is exposed to prolonged foggy mornings that temper and extend the growing season. · Moderate garnet color in the glass. Aromas of black cherry, sweet pipe smoke, clove, burnt tobacco and cardamom spice. The luscious black cherry and black raspberry fruits make an immediate impression upon entry. The wine really brings the senses to alert. Ideal balance, buried tannins, the slightest oak input, and a very long, fruited finish make for a very special wine that an be thoroughly enjoyed now. I liked this a lot! Score: 94. Reviewed January 6, 2018 ARTICLE »

2014 Donelan Nancie Sonoma County Chardonnay

14.0% alc., 1,947 cases, $48. A blend of four vineyards located in Sonoma Mountain, Russian River Valley and Green Valley. Fermented and aged 10 months in FRench oak barrels , 20% new.. · Moderate golden yellow color in the glass. A rich, ripe offering featuring aromas of stony lemon, white orchard fruits and honeyed oak. Well-endowed with citrus and kiwi fruit flavors along with notes of caramel, toast, and baking spice. Slightly viscous in texture, with a richly-appointed, highly fruited and slightly oak-infused finish. Score: 92. Reviewed January 6, 2018 ARTICLE »

2014 Donelan Tripp’s Block Perl Vineyard Mendocino Ridge Pinot Noir

14.1% alc., 290 cases, $78. Heavy wax capsule. Vineyard is located at 2,000 feet elevation above the fog line. · Moderately light garnet color in the glass. Enticing aromas of boysenberry, blackberry jam and fertile earth. Exhilarating attack of black cherry and strawberry fruit flavors with a hint of spice and caramel. Impeccable balance, with gentle tannins and a silky texture. A very engaging and accommodating wine finishing with uncommon length. Score: 92. Reviewed January 6, 2018 ARTICLE »

2013 Donelan Two Brothers Sonoma County Pinot Noir

14.2% alc., 1,630 cases, $55. Heavy wax capsule. Sourced from multiple sites in Sonoma County. Whole cluster inclusion (% not specified). · Light ruby red color in the glass. Whole cluster driven nose with aromas of cherry, savory herbs, and burnt tobacco. Mid weight flavors of cherry, red berry and warm brown spices with a hint of tobacco and woody intent. Silky in the mouth, with suede tannins and a moderately intense finish. The wine shows the slightest amount of oxidation. Score: 89. Reviewed January 6, 2018 ARTICLE »

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