About Gibbons Lane Winery
In 1997, Carolyn Lakewold and her husband, Fred, planted a small vineyard on a picturesque property adjacent to the Deschutes River on Gibbons Lane near Tenino, Washington. The following year construction on their small, well-appointed and charming winery began on the property next to their vineyard. The first crush was in 1998 with the first commercial release being the 1999 Merlot under the Donedei label — the brand takes its name from a farmhouse in southern France near Cannes that has been part of Carolyn and Fred's life for over 15 years. Translated from its French origins, the name means, "Gift of God." The following year a Donedei Cabernet Sauvignon was also produced. The grape sources for the wines were predominantly from Red Mountain vineyards. These first releases met with critical acclaim and the winery quickly garnered a cult following.
Today, the grape sources for most Donedei and Gibbons Lane wines come from the Ciel du Cheval Vineyard (Red Mountain Appellation) and Elephant MountainVineyard (Yakima Valley Appellation). Grapes are hand-picked, sorted and gently crushed – we are a 100% free run winery which means we do not press (very unusual) to enhance concentration and color intensity. Wines are fermented in small lots using proprietary yeasts. These practices yield wines that are concentrated, rich and assertive. In addition, Donedei wines are un-filtered and un-fined so we recommend decanting a bottle before enjoying. Our team takes great pride in what we do and we hope it shows in every glass.
Carolyn Lakewold, Winemaker
“My goal is to make the best wine in Washington. A lofty goal, yes, but we will continue to strive to do just that.” — Carolyn Lakewold
A passion for great food, art and wine, as well as extensive vineyard and winery experiences in France, Italy and Washington State, were instrumental in propelling former college English professor and NCAA Champion fast-pitch coach, Carolyn Lakewold, into the world of winemaking. Leaving her academic and coaching positions behind her, beginning in 1996 Carolyn apprenticed with Doug McCrea of McCrea Cellars for two years before moving on to work with Bob Andrake of Andrake Cellars. Applying the knowledge and skills learned from those experiences as well as those in Europe, Carolyn began the crafting of her own wines under the Donedei label.
Carolyn and Fred spend time away from the winery traveling around the world indulging their passion for fly fishing and art, searching for that perfect river, piece of art, meal and, of course, that perfect glass of wine.
In crafting Donedei and Gibbons Lane wines, the single most important decision I make as a winemaker is the selection of the vineyard sites for our grapes. Quality fruit is the cornerstone of producing great wines and the vineyard physical characteristics (e.g. soil types, site topography and many other factors), site climate conditions (e.g. rainfall, day/night temperature variations during growing season, seasonal variations and numerous other factors) and viticulture practices and vineyard management (e.g. vineyard layout, rootstocks, canopy management and many other variables) are the primary factors I consider when selecting a vineyard site. With those factors in mind, Gibbons Lane Winery utilizes the following vineyards for crafting our wines:
Ciel du Cheval
Ciel du Cheval (French translation, “sky of the horse”) is the second oldest vineyard (est. 1975) planted on Washington’s Red Mountain and looks in the direction of the Horse Heaven Hills. When the great Spokane Flood formed the Red Mountain region, the Scooteney Channel backed up leaving deposits of gravel and huge stones. The Ciel du Cheval soil is composed of loam on gravel beds which extends down 12 feet or more. The high calcium carbonate content of the soil, according to vineyard owner Jim Holmes, is the key to the high quality of the fruit. This calcareous soil inhibits excessive vigor in the vines resulting in smaller berries and moderate canopies. This vineyard has a reputation for growing red wine grapes that have intense fruit characters and dense but supple tannins.
Elephant Mountain Vineyards
Elephant Mountain Vineyards (est. 1995) is 90 acres situated on a unique site located high (1,340-1,460 feet of elevation) on the southern slopes of the Rattlesnake Ridge at the base of Elephant Mountain near the center of the new Rattlesnake Hills Appellation in the greater Yakima Valley Appellation. Because of its high elevation, the vineyard averages 30 more frost-free days than most other Columbia Valley site, yet receives the same heat units as Red Mountain. The Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, Merlot and Petit Verdot grapes from this site show intense fruit characters and great balanced acidities.
The Winery Compound
The winery compound, located on eleven tranquil acres on the banks of the Deschutes River near Tenino, Washington, consists of two and a half acres of ‘show’ vineyards, three and a half acres of land dedicated to the winery buildings, and a seasonal residence and bunkhouse used for entertaining, as well as five undeveloped wooded acres along the banks of the river to satisfy our passion for fly fishing.
All in all, the property Is close to idyllic and an inspiration for me to produce some really outstanding wines.