Lisa Donneson founded Bouké in 2007, and produces eight aromatic, fruit-forward, affordable wines. Bouké (her dry wines) and Bouquet (her sweet wines) aim to be “a pleasure for all the senses – the eye, the nose, and (of course!) the taste buds.”
Trained originally as a musician, Lisa honed her business skills as a securities analyst and media industry consultant before earning the coveted Diploma from the Wine and Spirits Education Trust. She lives in Brooklyn with her husband, and they have two daughters who are in college.
What was the first bottle of wine you remember drinking — and where did you have it and who were you with?
My first exposure to fine dining was a three-hour lunch at La Pyramide in Vienne on a cold January day about 30 years ago. My husband and I had no idea what was in store for us, and after splurging on this meal, we stayed at modest hotel with a chambre ordinaire (shower down the hall). It was the first time that we encountered a sommelier and asked if we preferred one or two wines with our meal, served two sauces with our meat, and offered cheese, either sec or tendre, at the end of a meal. I remember the copper platters, silver trays, beautiful vases of flowers, and the elegantly dressed clientele. I specifically remember a young woman at the next table with black leather pants, a pale yellow cashmere sweater, a well-tied scarf, and that je ne sais quoi. This meal was the first time that I tasted Sancerre, and I’ve almost always ordered Sancerre with fish at restaurants since then. We had an Hermitage with our meat, and have always loved wines from the Rhône.
When did you know that you wanted to be in the wine industry?
When my kids were teenagers, I took the WSET courses just for fun, and passed the Diploma. I was anxious to get back to work, and decided to do it.
What do you wish were different about the New York wine community and industry?
I wish there was more land.
When you’re not drinking your own wines, what are you drinking?
For special occasions, I especially like wines related to overseas adventures. I still love Sancerre and Côte-Rôtie, because they were the first to seduce me. Five years ago, I went biking in Burgundy and, along with a few friends, bought a barrel of Corton at the Hospice de Beaune wine auction – 2006 Cuvée Docteur Peste, Grand Cru. One barrel equals 280 bottles, or about 5 cases per person, so we plan special occasions around this wine. Last year, I went biking in Tuscany, and after climbing the hill to Montalcino, celebrated by buying a few bottles of local wine. I asked the owner of the wine shop to recommend a lesser-known wine worthy of the trouble to take back to New York, and he immediately walked over to the shelf with1997 La Togata, DOCG Brunello di Montalcino, held it lovingly in his hands, and eccola, a few bottles made their way across the ocean.
If you could only pick one grape/wine/producer to live out your days with on a deserted island, what would it be?
Hermitage or Brunello.