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Perhaps it's an ingrained distrust of dogma, but Jared and Tracey Brandt, owners and winemakers of Donkey and Goat winery, have torn up every page from the California winemaking handbook and done things their way.
Their West Berkeley winery is dedicated to producing “natural“ wines--wines made without commercial yeasts (which contribute lab-made flavors and hide terroir), rarely use SO2, and work almost exclusively with family growers practicing sustainable agriculture.
It’s a "hands-off" style that only works when executed perfectly. It requires deep knowledge, fastidious attention to detail and endless commitment.
The Brandts have all of that. They studied the approach with the hyper-talented lovable Rhone legend, Eric Texier (an nuclear engineer who brings a rigorous, scientific approach to his "natural" wine). Back stateside, they found like-minded growers willing to apply some of the rural techniques they'd learned, and worked tirelessly to allow their wines to emerge.
And those wines are amazing, a testament to what meticulous farming and simple but focused winemaking can produce in California. Precise and complex with a purity of fruit and a real sense of place - each bottle is a joy.