Donati Family Vineyard is an anomaly in Paso Robles.
“Why is it,” I wondered, “that the Donati Winery isn’t on the Paso Wine page?”
The answer, as it turns out, was a little more complicated than what I’d originally thought. I figured that they hadn’t paid some fee or that they’d insulted some mucky-muck somewhere and were banned from the site. Maybe Paso Wines confused them with Donatoni Winery and never fixed it.
As it turns out, none of those products of my rather overzealous imagination is true.
The Donati winery is located on Oak View Road, just down a piece from AronHill off the intersection of 46W and Vineyard Road in Templeton. It is an old-world style building, with a chalkboard sign indicating the day’s winery hours and any bottle specials.
I met with Mitch Bakich, a handlebar-mustachioed young man who is the Managing Evangelist of Donati. I was able to taste through all of their available wines and despite the screaming shrieks and agonized protests of the Budget™, walked out with at least half a case. I’ve been enjoying them ever since, by the way.
I found out several things while talking to Mitch (who, ladies, is a cutie, but married with a young child).
- The Donati family vineyards are located in San Benito County in the small Paicines AVA, not San Luis Obispo County. This is why they don’t appear on the Paso Wines site – their grapes aren’t local. At those vineyards, they grow Petite Verdot, Cab Sauv, Chardonnay, Merlot, Cab Franc, Syrah, Malbec, Pinot Grigio, and Pinot Blanc, and have been doing so for years. San Benito County, by the way, is home to Calera (Mt. Harlan sub-AVA) as well.
- Their tasting room has only been open since 2007.
- The winemaker, Denise Valoff, uses a lot of Russian oak. Why? Because she finds that while it doesn’t add a lot of oak flavor nuances, it adds texture, mouthfeel, and character to the wines. (I’m all about mouthfeel, by the way.)
Despite the fact that the grapes are sourced from up north, Donati participates fully in the Paso Robles events. I found them at the Wine Festival where I partook of their jug wine, which is pleasant and, as they say in the trade, very quaffable. The jugs are clearly made for fun – patio, beach, picnic – and not as a pondering, introspective experience.
I found their serious wines delicious, textured, nuanced, and fun to drink.
So far my favorite is the Rosé, but that’s only because it’s still summer and Rosés fill in as my summer whites. I was so riveted with my conversation with Mitch and enjoying the wines that I forgot to take more photos. Dammit! Enjoy the ones I have!
Donati Family Vineyard
Winery & Hospitality Center –
Open daily from 10am – 5pm
2720 Oak View Rd.
Templeton, CA 93465
p 877-511-WINE (9463)