From the outside, nothing seems out of the ordinary when pulling up to the front gate of the Donum Estate. As far as the eye can see, there are rows of grapes just like every other winery in Sonoma County. It’s only once security opens up the gate and tells you to “stay to the right of the giant head” that the surreal atmosphere begins to creep in.
On the drive up to the main house, vineyards full of the highest-scoring pinot noirs in the world are ignored as all attention is focused on the few contemporary sculptures in sight, some blending into the California landscape much better than others. Finally, by the time you reach the end of the driveway, you aren’t greeted with some grandiose Victorian mansion, but rather a quaint, 1-story Scandinavian-influenced house. This is the Donum Estate: a place where oenophilia meets modern art that is somewhat reminiscent of Bond villain’s evil lair.
Founded by Allan and Mei Warburg, the Donum Estate spans around 200 acres and is home to over 50 pieces of art, heavily influenced by the couple’s own ethnic backgrounds. Some of the more famous pieces include: Love Me, a giant mirrored steel heart sculpture symbolically overlooking the entire estate, and Love (Gold/Red), the iconic pop art image created by Robert Indiana that gained fame in Philadelphia’s John F. Kennedy Plaza. There is also Crouching Spider, which, as you can guess, is a massive steel spider carefully tucked into an undistinguishable space to possibly get the jump on arachnophobes.
Although its fascinating art collection makes Donum quite memorable, that isn’t the only draw of the estate. What would a world-famous vineyard be without offering a wine tasting! If you are able to secure an exclusive reservation, the Donum Estate offers several different types of tastings. Just make sure to save up for the experience because it can end up being quite pricey, especially if you order a few bottles to go!