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Wine Spotlight: 2018 Durell Vineyard Chardonnay

Greetings from Gary Farrell Winery! While our winery roots are deep in the Russian River Valley, our winemaker gets equally as excited about the opportunity to diversify sites outside of our region to create an orchestra of subtle nuances to further differentiate wines of the same varietal. The 2018 Durell Vineyard Chardonnay is a great example of environmental influence and terroir. The vines struggle in the rocky soils, yielding tiny, flavor-packed clusters. The resulting wine is a stunning expression of place.

Best CA Chardonnay


The Wine

The grapes were harvested in the cool morning hours at ~22.7° Brix. A quick pass was made through our rows a few days prior to harvest in order to drop fruit that didn’t express the optimal flavor concentration. As anticipated, the grapes that were delivered to the winery were packed with delicious, vibrant, varietally expressive characteristics. After a very careful hand-sorting, we combined all the fruit in the press, and used a gentle program to extract only the most desirable solids and phenolics. The resulting juice was left in tank to cold-settle overnight before transferring to 35% new and 65% one to three-year-old neutral French oak barrels and puncheons for fermentation and aging, where it remained for 9 months on its primary lees until it was time to bottle in June. The wine was racked off the primary lees only once, just before bottling.


Tasting Notes

Boasting aromas of tart apricot, white nectarine and honeysuckle, with hints of delicate, toasty oak adding layers of complexity, this vintage is a classic expression of Durell Old Wente Chardonnay. The citrusy, mineral-laden palate explodes with flavors of succulent golden peach, Meyer lemon, lime zest and toasted hazelnuts. The perfect balance between fresh and velvety, with laser-focused acidity, powerful structure and an exceptionally long finish.


  • 95 Points | Wine Enthusiast, February 2021


The Vineyard

Originally planted in 1979 by Ed Durell, this famous vineyard is located in the southwestern foothills of the Sonoma Valley, north of the San Pablo Bay and east of the Petaluma Wind Gap. The site is characterized partly by its Region II climate, where conditions are moderated by the Bay and the Pacific Ocean effects, making it ideal for cool-climate Chardonnay and Pinot Noir grapes. This block of Chardonnay is planted to an Old Wente selection, which can vary significantly depending on its growing conditions. The rocky, volcanic soils at Durell Vineyard create a challenging environment for the vines’ root system, yielding very small grape clusters that have tremendous concentration and power.



Situated between the Sonoma Mountains and the Mayacama Mountain Range, the Sonoma Valley receives abundant California sunshine mixed with cool air coming down from the Pacific Ocean and up from the San Pablo Bay. As the birthplace of California’s wine industry in the 1850’s, the Sonoma Valley the most dramatic contrasts of terrain, the widest range of wine grapes grown, and the longest history of any winegrowing region in Sonoma County. 


Intro to Gary Farrell Winery

Gary Farrell Vineyards & Winery is a 38-year pioneer of cool climate Pinot Noir and Chardonnay from the Russian River Valley. Winemaker Theresa Heredia joined us in 2012, carrying on our legacy of crafting Burgundian-styled, varietally expressive small-lot artisan wines capturing the balance and stylistic elegance of some of the finest vineyards in the Russian River Valley AVA and beyond; including Rochioli, Allen, Bacigalupi, Hallberg, Ritchie, Olivet Lane, Durell, Gap’s Crown, Fort Ross and Bien Nacido. Theresa works closely with our growers to showcase the exceptional fruit from their vineyards in each of her wines.


Watch the Grower Spotlight Video HERE

Russian River Valley Vineyards

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