Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Mother's Day Special with Donum Estate

Out here on our Carneros ranch, when we think of Donum founder Anne Moller-Racke, we tend to focus on her 30-year dedication to farming the vineyards of Carneros and Sonoma. We celebrate her skill for world class Pinot Noir. On occasion, we forget that she has responsibilities outside of refining her Grand Cru model for Donum.

On those rare days when we all  manage to come together at the table for a meal - or a cup of coffee and a croissant - our conversations tend to focus on reducing the risk of frost bite on  new buds, the newest practices Anne discovered during a recent UC-Davis growers' conference, fine tuning the details for an upcoming wine club event, and barrel orders and blending trials. Running an intimate, small production estate like Donum requires a lot of time and attention, so it's only natural we would get tunnel vision.

But Anne has a not-so-secret secret passion: her family. In fact, the only thing that trumps her devotion to Donum is the devotion and pride she has for her two daughters, Dorothe and Hannah. Not to verge on the overly sentimental - however, Mother's Day is nearing - but the Donum team wanted to surprise Anne with a unique gift. In celebration of Mother's Day, we asked her girls to sound off on what it was like growing up in the vineyards of Carneros and Sonoma, their shared, yet different, passion for the California landscape, and, of course, their mother's influence in their lives.

Dorothe Moller Racke traveled from Germany’s Middle Rhine to Carneros when she was just 12-months old. Today, the 32-year old wine industry veteran runs the sales and marketing program for a unique winery and organic estate known as Stone Edge Farm. Hannah Gropman, now a teenager, was born and is still being raised in California wine country. Their personalities are as vast as the age gap that sets them apart, but they do share a passion for green, growing things, thanks in large part to their mother, winegrower Anne Moller Racke.

We asked both girls the following five questions:

1.       The lowdown. Most of us have idealized visions of toddlers running between the rows of Pinot Noir, with flying braids and dirt-stained apron dresses. What was it really like growing up the daughters of a winegrower?

2.       What are some of the best lessons you learned alongside your mom in the vineyard?

3.       Have these lessons and this influence shaped your own passions and/or career choices? How?

4.       Ok, give us the dirt. What is Anne like outside the vineyard?

5.       If you could tell your mom anything on this Mother’s Day, what would it be?

We'll post their different - very different - responses tomorrow, and follow up with a Mother's Day recipe from Chef Greg Cole of Celadon and Cole's Chop House in Napa Valley.  Greg designed a flavorful chicken saute to pair alongside our 2009 Donum Estate Chardonnay. It's a great Mother's Day brunch menu for the home chef.

As for the wine, the 2009 Donum Estate Chardonnay comes from 37-year old vine Wente Clone Chardonnay from our Ferguson Block in Carneros. We make only one Chardonnay under the Donum name, and it's a white designed to remind you that California Chardonnay can have texture, complexity and minerality.. We'll be raising a glass to Anne, and to all of our mothers, this Sunday. 



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