“…To make absolutely the best wine that can be made from these grapes in this spot at this time, and to do it honestly. We literally capture a piece of time so that when we open a bottle, no matter when, it brings back the whole year. Every vintage is like a new child.”
Mark and Donnis Topel are hands-on growers and winemakers. For more than 30 years, they have committed themselves to the preservation of 160 acres of pristine, sacred land, 25 acres of which are planted to organic Estate mountain vineyards on Duncan Peak in southern Mendocino County.
The Topels craft elegant and balanced wines from these vineyards, and from exclusive vineyards cultivated by respected growers in other prime appellations that appeal to their criteria of excellence.
The Romans and their love of hillside grapes inspired Mark and Donnis Topel to plant their mountainside vineyards to take advantage of the unique terroir of Duncan Peak. Like the Romans, they found the Bordeaux varieties – Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Cabernet Franc, Malbec and Petit Verdot – best adapted to the soils, climate and topography. The rare Syrah Noir grape from the Northern Rhône region of France is also planted on the Estate. Avowed minimalists, the Topels allow their wines to evolve naturally, with no intervention, in order to achieve the maximum reflection of their birthplace.
The Topel Estate is on land once held sacred by the Pomo Indians. It is also part of the original land grant to General Mariano Guadalupe Vallejo. The property is pristine – and remains so as a result of mindful farming practices, including replenishing the vineyard vine-by-vine as a winter ritual to strengthen the immune system of the vines. The highest vineyard on Duncan Peak, Topel Mountain Estate was planted with the utmost respect for the abundant wildlife and the neighbors below.
The Topels strictly adhere to sustainable and self-renewing agricultural practices, collecting rainwater in ponds for irrigation and running their entire operation on solar energy. Their grapes are grown organically and the vineyards include a variety of fruit trees and other plantings that create a vibrant polyculture. Complemented by majestic oaks, decades–old rock walls and fences,
Topel Estate Mountain Vineyard is living art. An experienced crew, led by Vineyard Manager Manuel Nuñez, has worked the vineyards for more than 21 years insuring that each harvest is as perfect as possible regardless of the whims of nature, resulting in exquisite well-balanced wines that become even more elegant with extended aging.
Mark and Donnis Topel began planting their mountain Estate vineyards literally on their hands and knees – working out the boundaries of the planted areas. Already deeply in love with each other, they grew more and more attached to the sacred land they nurtured and cultivated. Together they portray the Taoist philosophy of Yin and Yang.
He’s the accomplished trial lawyer who is a traditionalist, intellectual and historian. She’s the consummate artist and humanitarian. He sees the broad picture; she attends to every detail along the way. Their partnership is joyful as each brings their own unique attributes to work toward a common goal – to make the best wine that can be made and to do it honestly from a place of passion and devotion.