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Profiles,Viticulture

Matt Donati: Grapegrower Profile ~ Coaching grape vines is similar to coaching kids

What a stretch… From a baseball coach to a Donati Family Vineyard’s viticulturist?

That’s quite a stretch, or so I thought, when I heard that Matt Donati reinvented from a baseball diamond to a vineyard.

Digging deeper, I asked the question, “What’s the similar segue?”

Matt Donati admits that while growing up, he never really understood his father Ron Donati’s affinity for wine. That changed when, as a young adult, he began tasting Cabernets, as well as other serious reds. “Dad almost always had white wine at the dinner table,” Matt told me. “I’ve inherited some great qualities from him, but a preference for Pinot Blanc isn’t one of them.”

This difference is one of very few for the father and son team, who share a commitment to excellence and a disciplined approach to being the best at whatever they set out to do. One look at their immaculate vineyard and the Donati family work ethic is obvious. As Vineyard Manager for Donati Family Vineyard, Matt sees to it that each and every vine is lovingly tended, in order to assure optimum fruit quality.

“Our goal is to grow grapes and make wines of the best possible caliber,” Matt says. “And, we work hard to keep the vineyard looking great and always ready to welcome the unexpected visitor.”


Living Amid his Vines

Prior to taking charge of the family farm, Matt earned a degree in Sports Administration from the University of San Francisco where he played college baseball. It was through Matt’s involvement in sports that he learned to play to his strengths, keep a positive attitude, and “work his butt off sweating eight hours a day” so that he could be at his best when it became game time.

After college, Matt coached high school baseball for a couple of years, then traded in his batting cage for 1000 acres of deer-fenced vineyard land in Paicines, California. Since then he has poured all of his energy into the family vineyard, and started a family of his own. When he’s not tending the vines or his three young daughters, he’s likely to be found enjoying a glass of Cabernet.

The same principles of coaching a team to produce the best possible results is employed in his coaching of vines.

I finally knew what he was talking about, because there have been so many careers for me where teaching was always at the root of what I did, regardless of the industry. The reinventing is only placing oneself in a new location and adapting; for Matt, it’s vines not young men, anymore… with the same discipline, interest, integrity, involvement, and expectations for excellence; i.e., winning!

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