Donkey & Goat

Berkeley's first natural winery, crafting wines
from sustainably farmed vineyards since 2004.


In the summer of 2021, following a difficult 2020 vintage due to wildfire impact, I began considering how to approach the 2021 vintage in the event we faced another year of wildfire impact. This vintage was also an exciting one for me personally as it was the first year when I solely led the winemaking for Donkey & Goat after my partner Jared Brandt ended his role as co-winemaker.  

When the Caldor Fire devastated the El Dorado region where over 50% of our grapes are grown I began making the new wines using the inspiration from my “Plan B Wine Plans.”  Being able to create new wines, even if not the ones planned, was exciting and gave me hope. Climate change is affecting the California wine industry and we all have to learn to adapt to our new normal.

When Eric Asimov from the New York Times visited Donkey & Goat in September, I was excited to share the idea of our new Climate-Driven Creative Wines as a path for the future of California growers and winemakers. As I led Eric through the story of our 4 new wines over the next several months, I omitted the fact that the portion of the Gris Gris that came from Mendocino – not at all affected by wildfire – was discovered to have a flaw with very high levels of volatile acidity (VA) and to correct it we used a filtration technique known as reverse osmosis. Though a common industry practice for winemakers, this process is not a natural winemaking practice, which we are committed to at Donkey & Goat. We have been a leader in natural winemaking in California for two decades and we are proud of our commitment to this vision, and it quite literally is at the roots of all our winemaking philosophy. I regret that I didn’t describe the details of this pivot for a portion of the Gris Gris blend with Eric. Transparency is a value I hold dear for our business and I fell short of living up to this value.

We will deepen our commitment to natural wines and the natural winemaking community, and also redouble our commitment to our suppliers, and most importantly to all our customers that our belief in natural winemaking is unshakable. 

Even in challenging times, when the American, and indeed the global winemaking community is so threatened by the specter of climate change, fire, and dangerously shifting extreme weather patterns, D&G will continue to search for solutions in the way we advocate for climate stewardship, and the way we continue to produce our wines.  

As the co-founder and now winemaker for our label, I have been blessed with decades of support from our trusted growers, our distribution partners, the thousands who serve our wine in restaurants and sell our wine in shops, our customers, our friends and lovers of our wines. I have learned from you, and you will always have my gratitude and my commitment to continually improve every facet of what we do. I regret that I was not as conscientious and consistent as you expect and deserve us to be with our 2021 Gris Gris. We aspire to do better with every new vintage, naturally. That is our promise.

Tracey Rogers Brandt

Sign Up for the Mailing List

Tasting Room & Retail Shop Hours

Open for Seated Tastings,
Bottle Purchases & Pick Up Orders:

Tuesday – Sunday: 11-5pm
Friday Special Hours: 11-7pm