Napa Valley AVA

95 Point, Wine Spectator - Exclusive Pre-Release selection

This Special Feature comes from The Donum Estate, a carefully thought out, perfectly situated property that combines the absolute finest in Pinot Noir grape growing with the exacting expertise of gifted winemakers. It is the type of winery that many other wineries would like to emulate. The Donum Estate is comprised of three vineyards in Carneros, Anderson Valley, and the Russian River Valley, each uniquely situated to Pinot Noir and all farmed by the winery’s
passionate owner/grower Anne Moller-Racke. Since 2001, Anne Moller-Racke has been on a mission to make what some insiders have called “the perfect Pinot Noir.”

Working closely with winemaker Kenneth Juhasz, she has formed ‘the ultimate Pinot Noir project’ and together, they have succeeded in creating legendary wines of both power and elegance. The Donum Estate has consistently garnered superior accolades from the wine industry press and has become a hard item to find on a consistent basis, a fact aided by such limited production. In its relatively short history, the winery has already set a standard that many Pinot Noir producers attempt to achieve.

The Donum Estate is owned by the Racke Family of Germany, who also owns the prestigious Robert Stemmler Winery in upper Sonoma. Donum is the pet project of Anne Moeller-Racke, who recognized the value of the vineyards when they were part of the Buena Vista Winery sale to Allied Domecq in 2001.

“I first started to see the incredible possibilities when I took a really close look at Carneros,” she admitted. “The Carneros terrain shaped its own destiny. All this land was formerly pastures, big expanses of rolling grassland that fed beef and dairy herds, goats and sheep. For a number of years, the cool climates and ever present moisture off the bay wasn’t that attractive to growers.”

Moeller-Racke feels that the advent of smaller, quality oriented wineries shaped the future of Carneros.

“When the demand for superior quality Chardonnay and Pinot Noir started in the mid 1980’s, Carneros quickly became everyone’s favorite place. I fell in love with the marvelous vineyards that comprise today’s The Donum Estate. and made sure they weren’t part of the Buena Vista sale.”

Kenneth Juhasz (YOU Haas)

Kenneth was appointed winemaker at The Donum Estate in 2005, bringing with him incredible experience and a commitment to creating wines of power and elegance that express the site from which they are from. Kenneth’s interest in enology had grown as he worked his way through school in fine restaurants and the local wine shop in his native North Carolina. After college, he eagerly pursued his passion for Pinot Noir west to the Willamette Valley. There he began working with winemaker Ken Bernards, who became Kenneth’s mentor over the next few years. When Juhasz came to Carneros in 2002, Bernards helped him create and launch the ‘ultimate Pinot Noir project” at The Donum Estate. Kenneth became winemaker at The Donum Estate just three years later.

Kenneth further enhanced his knowledge with trips to Oregon and the South Island of New Zealand, where he spearheaded a start-up Pinot Noir operation at Hinton Estate. Now at Donum Estate, Kenneth works closely with winegrower Ann Moller-Racke and is dedicated to crafting outstanding wines from the winery’s estate vineyards in the Carneros and Russian River Valley appellations.