Donnelly Creek Vineyard
Just west of Boonville and adjacent to Ferrington Vineyard, Donnelly Creek’s fruit forms the backbone of FEL’s Anderson Valley Pinot Noir cuvée. On its own, this property delivers the most muscular of FEL’s vineyard designate Pinot Noirs. The vineyard is owned by Mary Elke planted Donnelly Creek in 1991.
Drawing on the success of their Napa vineyard, Mary decided to plant Pinot Noir in place of the apples on their Anderson Valley home ranch. In 1990, just a half mile down the road from their home ranch, Mary fortuitously discovered the Donnelly Creek ranch and planted the vines for her third vineyard. By 1996, Mary was farming over 50 acres of Pinot Noir, Chardonnay, and Pinot Gris. Originally most of the production went to sparkling wine producers, but Mary began making her own Pinot Noir under her Elke Blue Diamond label, and soon other Pinot producers were knocking on her door. Mary continues to oversee the farming and can often be found during harvest behind the wheel of her favorite tractor. Donnelly Creek is a certified Fish Friendly Farming vineyard.
First planted in the 1970’s by Dr. Ferrington, a dermatologist from Santa Rosa, the vineyard was purchased by Kurt and Heather Schoeneman in 1996. The gentle, south-facing slopes of this 70-acre vineyard supply FEL with a single-source Pinot Noir. This wine is a blend of three clones and is always the most forward and precocious of FEL’s vineyard designate Pinot Noirs.
Recognized as one of the premier sites for Pinot Noir in the new world, David Hirsch planted his vineyard overlooking the Pacific Ocean on the extreme Sonoma Coast in 1980, making it the oldest premium Pinot vineyard in the region. At an altitude of 1,500 feet, and three miles northeast of the Pacific Ocean, the Hirsch Vineyard experiences wide annual swings in moisture and temperature. From fall through spring, the vineyard averages eighty inches of rain, while the summer climate is dry and desert-like. The vineyard features varying levels of drainage, as the soil disparity from one location to another is extreme, ranging from heavy clays to sandy loams to clay loams with rocks scattered throughout. Today, Hirsch Vineyard has become one of the most sought-after sources for Pinot Noir grapes in California, providing fruit to Littorai, Williams Selyem, Failla and Kistler in addition to FEL. Since 2002, David Hirsch has also been producing his own estate Pinot Noir and Chardonnay from this complex, cool-weather site.