Woman Winemaker Blends Pinot & Art at Carneros Vineyard

Winemaker Anne Moller-Racke's Carneros estate features sculptures by artists such as Ai Weiwei, Keith Haring and Richard Hudson.


Anne Moller-Racke has farmed Carneros vineyards for three decades, and her eyes still light up when she talks about the intricacies of grape growing. Her current passion is delving deeply into the matter of which grapevine clones work best where. It’s a meticulous process, but the end result is healthy vines and elegant wines.

President and winegrower at The Donum Estate, which she founded in 2001, the German-born Moller-Racke came to Sonoma in 1981 to help with her then-husband Markus Racke’s family business, Buena Vista Winery. She started as vineyard manager (Donum was part of Buena Vista’s Carneros vineyards at the time), and the land is where her heart lies.

“You don’t want to make something just to make it,” she says of the estate’s wines. “It needs to have something to say.”

Her wines, made by Dan Fishman, speak loudly to the richness, complexity and balance that can be achieved in Sonoma County. The Donum 2013 Estate Russian River Valley Pinot Noir and 2014 Estate Carneros Chardonnay both made Sonoma Magazine’s 2016 100 Best Wines of Sonoma list and are well worth a search.

Donum is situated on 200 acres overlooking the marshes of San Pablo Bay, and Moller-Racke also owns a vineyard in Russian River Valley. Her focus is to produce small-lot wines that reflect the vineyards’ nuances.

She has graced the estate with new landscaping and artwork — with olive trees, lavender fields and sculptures by artists including Ai Weiwei, Keith Haring and Richard Hudson. A new winemaking facility, cellar and hospitality building also are in the works, with construction beginning this summer.

“We’re very excited to welcome our guests to enjoy private, personal tastings at the new Donum home,” says Moller-Racke, noting she’s been waiting many years for this moment. “My vision is for people to come taste the wine and then enjoy the surroundings, enjoy the calm.”

Private tastings can be arranged by phone or email: 707-939-2290, info@thedonumestate.com