Drew and Laurie Duncan searched almost a decade for the perfect cool climate site to grow Chardonnay and Pinot Noir before finally discovering Donnachadh Vineyard (pronounced DON-nuh-kuh). Organically farmed in the heart of the Sta. Rita Hills AVA, the property was planted to vine by the Duncan’s in 2013. Santa Barbara Winemaker Ernst Storm is at the healm for winemaking at Donnachadh. Having hailed from the Western Cape of South Africa, his experience making balanced wines from cool climate grapes has served him well in the Sta. Rita Hills. Ernst believes that the diverse soils and microclimates within Santa Barbara County make it a region with endless potential.
Donnachadh Vineyard has special characteristics that inspired the Duncan’s to lay roots there: its north facing slope shields the grapes from too much direct sunlight, and is quite steep while lying at a higher elevation. The property is perfectly situated in a corridor that carries the ocean breeze inland, cooling the grapes in the morning and evening and preventing heat from building up during the day. Overall, the hillside environment is quite challenging for the vines, which limits yields and produces grapes of exceptional character. Laurie has a PhD is Geology, so soil composition was important when choosing this site—their vineyard is unique in that it offers several different soil types (predominantly clay, with marine shale deposits) which contribute to Donnachadh’s elegant wines of purity, energy and warmth.
Inspired by the wines of Burgundy and the Northern Rhone, Donnachadh strives to make wines that recognize the uniqueness of their vineyard site. The cool climate and ocean breeze allow the grapes to ripen more slowly, developing rich, complex flavors while still retaining a bright natural acidity.
Vineyards & Viticulture
The vineyard consists of two main parts: the hillside blocks, and the riverside blocks. The riverside blocks sit alongside the Santa Ynez River. They are more sheltered from the wind than the hillside blocks and the soil is a delicate and well drained sandy loam that sits on top of deep layers of gravel river deposits. The hillside blocks are more exposed to the ocean winds. The soil there is derived from marine shale deposits and features more clay, rocks and cobbles than the riverside blocks. Overall, the hillside environment is quite challenging for the vines, limiting yields and producing grapes of exceptional character.
Family owned and organically farmed Donnachadh (Don-nuh-kuh) Vineyard is situated on Santa Rosa Road in the famed Sta. Rita Hills AVA of Santa Barbara County. That’s prime territory for Pinot Noir, Chardonnay, and cool climate Syrah. It’s also the culmination of a dream for owners Laurie and Drew Duncan. The Duncans followed a passion for wine into the pursuit of a site to plant their own estate property. After an expansive search they found a two hundred eighty-five-acre gem in a fine neighborhood. The hard work of planning and planting the vineyard is now done, but Donnachadh’s wine timeline is just beginning.