Monday, March 26, 2012

Introducing Donkey & Goat Winery and Elizabeth Spencer Wines, Part I

We are absolutely thrilled to announce the addition of two exciting producers from California to our portfolio. Donkey & Goat Winery is based in Berkeley while Elizabeth Spencer Wines hails from Rutherford. Sharing the belief that the character of their wines should be determined by the grapes' place of origin, each also happens to be run by husband-and-wife teams -- something we know about very well here at Wine Wizards. We encourage you to check the wines out through your Wizards representative or, for members of the trade, at our upcoming portfolio tasting.

We begin, alphabetically, with Donkey & Goat Winery.

Tracey and Jared Brandt embarked upon their wine making careers in 2001 by moving to the Rhone to apprentice with Eric Texier who, in the Brandts' words, "taught us the art and craft of making wines that speak to the soul about the earth from which they originate." Over a decade later, the Donkey & Goat label is well regarded for naturally made wines that possess the distinct characteristics of their California vineyard sources.

With a focus on Rhone varietals and Chardonnay, Donkey & Goat sources its grapes from vineyards located within the Sierra Foothills, Monterey, and Mendocino County. As stated in their wine making philosophy, "Because we firmly believe that wines are made in the vineyard, our first objective is to start with the best possible fruit we can find. Then, our job in the cellar is easy. In fact, the most difficult decision we often make is to do nothing."

Image by Donkey & Goat Winery
All of Donkey & Goat's wines are made in their Berkeley winery. The Brandts do not use any plastics, machines for crushing, or new oak. Wild yeasts are relied upon and there is very little, if any, sulphur used at fermentation. Stabilization, fining, or filtration are not a part of their pre-bottling process. Vintages vary from year to year as the vineyards experience different temperatures and weather events year to year.

We are currently featuring three Donkey & Goat wines in our portfolio:

Sluice Box White '10
A blend of white Rhone varietals grown in the El Dorado hills. The name is inspired by that region's rich (har, har) gold mining history.

Five Thirteen Red Blend '10
449 cases produced
A classic blend of Rhone varietals also grown in the El Dorado hills.

Syrah "Fenaughty" '09
120 cases produced
Syrah with blend of less than 4% Viognier.

Jon Bonne named Tracey and Jared as Winemakers to Watch in 2011 while Food and Wine Magazine's Katherine Wheelock featured Tracey in her 40 Big Food Thinkers 40 and Under. Donkey & Goat's website can be found here.

Oh, and the unusual but unforgettable name? It's inspired by the donkeys used in French vineyards for organic weed control and their companions, the goats, who provide balance for the hardworking donkeys. Naturally.

A donkey and a goat. Source:

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