Join the Asheville School of Wine for a Wine Tasting with Mark Donati of Donati Family Vineyard on Tuesday, October 27th from 5 to 7pm @Metrowines. The tasting is "on the house."
Successful winemaking must be a cooperative effort on behalf of our vineyard and winemaking teams. Under the direction of our winemaking team, Donati Family Vineyard grapes are grown to standards that deliver the highest quality. The vineyard field staff monitors the vineyard blocks throughout the year and pick the grapes at the ideal time.
Once the grapes arrive at the winery they are again inspected for quality. For our white wine program a whole cluster press is used to extract the juice. After a gentle pressing, the juice is immediately transferred to stainless steel fermenters for a 24 hour cold settling. The white juice will ferment for approximately 30 days at 55F until “dry”, yielding no residual sugar. Post primary fermentation the whites are fined and filtered before being botted the following spring to preserve the aromatic qualities in each variety.
Red grapes are de-stemmed and pumped directly into the fermentation tanks. We utilize both static and open top fermenters in our program. During fermentation the must is allowed to reach temperatures up to 85F to extract the intense color and flavors the Donati wines are known for. The red varietals will ferment for 7-10 days, then the wine is racked to another tank and the remaining skins, seeds, and pulp is gently pressed.
The aging process for our red wines begins in a combination of both French and American oak barrels from a select group of coopers. The red wines are barrel aged for 12-18 months. During this time, a continuous sensory assessment of each lot gives us the ability to designate the premium lots for our higher-end wines. When those lots are selected the wine is racked and blended and stored in barrels until bottling. The red wines are bottled “un-fined and unfiltered” to preserve natural flavors and aromas the grape varietals have to offer.
Overall, the winemaking team brings hands-on experience, analytic knowledge and a strong dedication to the industry. We are here to make the best wines possible to share with you. Please visit our web page detailing the varietals and blends that we have to offer.
Denise Valoff joined the Donati Family Vineyard team in 2007 as the Assistant Winemaker and became the head Donati Winemaker in 2011. She has been involved in the wine industry for the past 15 years and gained her knowledge primarily through hands-on experience.
Not knowing that it would lead to a career, she began working in the laboratory at one of the industry's largest wineries while attending Cal Poly. After working in winemaking during harvest she was hooked and continued to work in production throughout her college years. Upon graduation she went on to become the Assistant Winemaker for a smaller and more handcrafted winery. Her knowledge began to grow rapidly being exposed to the different facets of wine production by working in the cellar, processing fruit, and bottling. Her degree in Food Science gave her strength in the chemistry side of winemaking and her continued experience has been a continual education in winemaking. Moving on from there she went to work for a custom crush facility. She managed the laboratory, ensuring product quality through science. Being a large scale facility she gained more experience in the lab setting through automation, however, knew that she wanted to be a part of winemaking again.
Denise now possess the trifecta needed to make the highest quality wine:
Denise found her home at Donati Family Vineyard where she is involved in all aspects of wine production.
“The greatest reward about our jobs is seeing people enjoy what you have worked so hard to make. Working with an agricultural product has its challenges; you never know what Mother Nature may bring and then you try to make a high quality product that a wide variety of individuals will enjoy. This constant challenge is what makes winemaking exciting”.
The Donati Family Vineyard
The Donati Family Estate Vineyard site enjoys a variety of soils from limestone to decomposed granite to clay loam, and access to the cooling ocean breezes of the Monterey Bay. Like much of southern Napa, Sonoma, and Monterey counties, Paicines has long warm days followed by cool nights. “It’s a lot cooler than people think it would be here,” says Matt. “On the UC Davis scale of growing areas and heat where Region I is the coolest and V the warmest, Paicines is a cool Region II.”
The vineyard is planted to various select clones of Chardonnay, Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Cabernet Franc, Malbec, Syrah, Pinot Grigio, Pinot Blanc and Petite Verdot. Vine selections are carefully screened for viral diseases prior to planting, ensuring that the future of the vineyard is secure, and that vine health and fruit integrity remain intact from planting through harvest.
Matt Donati believes in hands-on year-round vineyard management to create an environment where the grapes themselves can be left alone to thrive during ripening.
Regular, judicious thinning of shoots during the growing season, attention to every detail of vine canopy training and light management within the fruiting zone, pre and post-veraison green fruit removal, along with scientific analysis of soil and leaf moisture throughout the growing season ensures that every aspect of the Donati Estate viticultural program contributes to the success of the vintage.
Primary efforts are directed at sustainable farming, allowing for natural predators and reduced use of pesticides to provide a clean, hospitable environment for vine growth and fruit maturation. Of course, this path of action requires extreme diligence in scouting for possible problems. But, with active personnel regularly hand-tending each and every vine, the family is gradually learning that effective and efficient sustainable practices can indeed make a significant difference in both the local environment and in the ultimate grape and wine quality.
Donati Vineyard not only has selected a unique and superior site for its vineyard plantings, but has done an extraordinary job of identifying those clones and blocks that are capable of developing into stellar wines in the cellar. With perfect fruit health and absolute ripeness the goals of that vineyard team, I am readily able to craft fully expressive wines, rich in character and nuance. It is sincerely an exciting prospect to work with grapes of such high quality and distinctive personality.”
Donati Family Vineyards
It’s no secret Italians have a love for the vine in their blood – Ron Donati is no different. In 1988 when he purchased the Paicines property, his vision was for his sons to grow high quality, unique grapes from the 9th oldest AVA in California. Soon, after rave reviews of the fruit, Ron Donati got to thinking…good grapes make great wine. Thus is born Donati Family Vineyard. In 2003, Donati produced Merlot, Cabernet, Meritage, Chardonnay, and Pinot Blanc. They held these in bottle until 2005 when they started hand selling the product to great restaurants and boutique wine shops. Again, their ears were burning with positive reviews and re-orders from customers. They had so many requests from the public to get their hands on their wine – Donati couldn’t turn them down. Though Paicines offers a lovely home for their grapes, with a population of 204, it’s not the best place for a Tasting Room, so they chose Templeton, CA (right outside of Paso Robles) for their new home. March 1, 2007 was their first day of business in the Tastig Room, and they are still enjoying the continued support and love from their customers.
About Mark Donati
Mark Donati became President of Donati Family Vineyard in early 2010. Prior to becoming President, Mark ran family businesses in California ranging from Real Estate Development to Agricultural ventures. Through hard work and dedication, he effectively grew these businesses into successful ventures. Starting in 2010, Mark began a total reorganization of Donati Family Vineyard by taking a small local winery and transforming it into a national brand with distribution in 30 states. Today, Mark continues to strive to make Donati Family Vineyard into a world-class winery, producing some of the finest wines from California’s Central Coast. Mark currently resides in Templeton, CA with his wine, Tracy, and their three children: Veronica, Nicole, and Nicholas.