Photo of Donald Patz

Donald Patz

Founder

One of four founding partners, Donald Patz spent three decades building Patz & Hall's reputation for quality, consistency and excellence. A dedicated and visionary individual, Donald brought a comprehensive understanding of Patz & Hall to his role, having gained extensive hands-on expertise in every aspect of the winery's operations. This depth of knowledge, coupled with Donald's belief in developing long-term, mutually rewarding relationships, has helped to earn a place for Patz & Hall on many of the world's great wine lists.

Donald first discovered his passion for wine when he stumbled upon a copy of Hugh Johnson's "World Atlas of Wine," while earning a degree in biology at the University of Oregon in Eugene in the late 1970s. Fascinated by the book's central idea that wine is intrinsically tied to individual regions and vineyards, Donald began actively exploring different wines from around the world. A regular face at local wine shops, Donald was soon asked to become the director of the local Les Amis du Vin wine group, setting up tastings and winemaker dinners. Eager to immerse himself in California's emerging wine scene, Donald moved to Santa Rosa in 1983 and spent two years as a sales manager for a large wine wholesaler, handling key restaurant accounts throughout Northern California.

In 1985, Donald joined Flora Springs Winery and Vineyards as its national sales manager, a job that fulfilled his desire to move even closer to the world of vineyards and winemaking. While at Flora Springs, Donald struck up a close friendship with assistant winemaker James Hall, and the two discovered that they shared a mutual belief in handcrafting Chardonnays in small lots using exceptional cool-climate fruit, and traditional techniques. Inspired to create rich, complex wines in this artisan style, Donald and James joined with Anne Moses and Heather Patz to found Patz & Hall in 1988. Throughout the early years of Patz & Hall, Donald continued to work for Flora Springs, and later as director of sales and marketing for Girard, to help support his young winery. In 1995, Donald went full time with Patz & Hall. In keeping with his early fascination with individual regions and properties, Donald championed Patz & Hall's commitment to crafting both Chardonnays and Pinot Noirs using fruit from elite single vineyards. At the same time, he remained unwavering in his commitment to quality. "Short-term gains never outweigh long-term success," says Donald. "Besides, the truth is, it's just a lot easier to sell good wines."

In April of 2017, after three decades of active involvement in Patz & Hall, Donald stepped away from the winery to start the next chapter in his career and to explore new opportunities.