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Keller Estates - Petaluma Region - Sonoma County


91 Points, Wine Enthusiasts magazine

While driving through the meandering Sonoma County roads more than 20 years ago, Arturo Keller stumbled upon a piece of property peering over the Petaluma River with a stunning view and expansive terrain. The ranch, with its majestic panorama, bountiful wildlife and acres of open space, would later become the spectacular destination for Keller Estate.

Arturo Keller, a passionate antique car collector from Mexico, was initially drawn to Sonoma’s Petaluma region by the miles of scenic country roads on which he could practice some non-professional racecar driving of his own. He purchased the 50-acre Petaluma property in 1982 and built a paved road weaving about the property to serve as his own miniature racecourse.

For years, the site consisted of a large car showroom in which Keller kept his valuable collection of vintage and classic racecars, most from pre–World War II, including an 1898 Benz. To add some landscaping appeal to the property, Keller took a suggestion from neighbors and recommendation from nearby UC Davis to plant a vineyard. He decided on 20 acres of Chardonnay, and in 1989 named the vineyard La Cruz after his Mexican heritage.

Over time, he added more acreage to include Pinot Noir and began making wine for family and friends. The wines were extremely well received, and Keller discovered that the vineyard’s unique terroir produced rich, aromatic wines that he wanted to share with the rest of the world.

Keller called his youngest daughter, Ana, who studied Chemistry at the University of Mexico, and invited her to join in his new wine venture. Ana’s educational background and respect for terroir would prove to be an extremely beneficial addition to Keller Estate.

Ana and her father released the first Keller Estate vintage in 2001, of just under 2,000 cases of Estate Chardonnay and Pinot Noir. The label design on these wines displayed the Keller Family Crest, which has been a part of the family for generations and actually originated in Switzerland. The key depicted in the center of the crest represents the cellar master’s key, as he is the guardian to the cellar. The name Keller Estate also pays homage to the Keller family’s Swiss heritage, since the word ‘keller’ is cellar in German.

Since that initial release, the Kellers have considered their wines works of art, designed by their terroir and their vineyards. To incorporate this philosophy into their workplace, the family set out to build a state-of-the-art winery that was equally functional, elegant and spacious.

“We wanted to create a winery that would made people think of art when they visit,” explained Ana.

And they have certainly succeeded in that. Designed by Pritzker award-winning architect, and family friend, Ricardo Legorreta, the Keller Estate winery was constructed out of limestone quarried from the beds of the Yangtze River and features a gravity flow system that ensures gentle winemaking practices, allowing the true nature of the varietals to shine through.

“We try to find the right balance so we can showcase the beautiful aromas and expressive flavors our wines are naturally blessed with,” Ana translated. “We’ve learned that the most important task – and sometimes the most difficult one – is to do nothing. Nothing but respect the fruit, the vineyard and the wines themselves.”

The Kellers are joined by winemaker Michael McNeal, who has a history of producing Pinot Noirs from various regions in Oregon and California, as well as a deep admiration for making wines that represent the land and the vineyard. McNeal’s beautiful, expressive Pinot Noirs have won Keller Estate several honors over the years.

To further promote the team’s interest and respect for the environment, Keller Estate recently completed the California Sustainable Winegrowing Alliance’s Sustainable Winegrowing Program. The winery now utilizes a natural water source, promotes local wildlife to live on the property, and is home to 3,000 newly planted trees.

At an annual production level of just 7,000 cases, this boutique winery continues to release captivating, honorable wines and is truly an inspiring achievement. As Ana has simply stated, “We want to create a legacy that can be continuously maintained for generations to come.”


  1. Keller
    2005 Pinot Noir
    Keller
    La Cruz Vineyard
    Monterey County

    $38.00

    $40.00
    91 - Wine Enthusiast
    id: 299
    Special
    Pinot Noir

Winemaker Michael McNeill

Winemaker Michael McNeill came to Keller Estate in 2003 and has since been creating wines of great structure and texture that deeply represent the Sonoma Coast Appellation. McNeill started learning his craft at Chalone Vineyard in Monterey County, which instilled in him the necessary principles and values to create cellar worthy wines.

During the past two decades, McNeill has traveled to Burgundy to gain appreciation of traditional winemaking and to Oregon’s Silvan Ridge to understand innovative winemaking in challenging conditions.

McNeill works closely with Anna Keller and spends considerable time in the vineyard, assessing crop levels, managing the growth and timing irrigation. His most important decision comes from tasting the ripening fruit over and over again, determining the optimal time to harvest.

McNeill’s wines at Keller Estate have been blessed with multiple honors including a bucket full of 90+ scores and Best of Shows that have helped establish Keller Estate as one of the major players of Petaluma

About The Region

The Keller Estate 2005 Pinot Noir is composed of fruit primarily from the La Cruz Vineyard, characterized by the intricate stone cross sculpture that boldly stands over the vines, and named to represent the family’s Mexican heritage.

The majority of the La Cruz Vineyard, where Keller Estate grows all of their Chardonnay, Syrah, Pinot Gris, and slightly over half of their Pinot Noir, resides on the lower hills of the property. The soils here are multi-layered, mineral-laden clays that were once San Pablo Bay seabeds. This mineral character comes through in all of the wines and is very much a part of Keller Estate’s unique terroir.

With all of Keller Estate’s vineyards within 5 minutes of the winery property, it’s convenient for the team to oversee the growth and development and pay close attention to details throughout the entire growing season.


Grilled Salmon with Balsamic and Rosemary Marinade


Ingredients

Four 4-oz wild salmon fillets
Course sea salt to taste
4 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
3 tablespoons Extra Virgin Olive Oil
1/4 cup lemon juice
1 clove garlic, minced
1 sprig fresh rosemary, minced
1 lemon, cut into wedges
Rosemary sprigs for garnish


Instructions

Season salmon fillets to taste with sea salt, and place into a shallow, glass dish. Whisk together the balsamic vinegar, olive oil, lemon juice, garlic, and rosemary; pour over salmon fillets. Cover, and refrigerate at least 30 minutes. Preheat an outdoor grill for medium-high heat, and lightly oil grate. Remove salmon from marinade. Discard remaining marinade. Place the salmon fillets on the preheated grill for about 4 minutes. Resist the urge to move the fish — you want to develop nice grill marks! Carefully flip the fish and cook until it is opaque.
Serve with lemon wedges and garnish with rosemary sprigs




Moroccan Chickpea Stew with Spicy Turmeric Couscous


Ingredients

1 cup Whole-Wheat Couscous
1 cup boiling water
1 tsp ground Turmeric
¼ cup salted cashews
2 teaspoons red pepper flakes, divided
Two 14-oz cans chickpeas
Two 14-oz cans diced tomatoes
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 teaspoon minced garlic
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 16-oz box butternut squash soup
½ teaspoon cinnamon
¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper


Instructions

In a medium-sized bowl, mix the cashews, turmeric, 1 tsp of red pepper flakes, and whole wheat couscous. Pour the boiling water over the couscous mix and cover. Set aside. Set a large pot or dutch oven over medium-heat. Toast the cumin and cinnamon until fragrant. Add the olive oil and minced garlic and toast until the garlic is golden. Pour in the canned tomatoes and cook for about 10 minutes. Add the chickpeas and butternut squash soup. Season with salt and 1 tsp of red pepper flakes. Add the cayenne pepper. Cook for another 20 minutes until all of the flavors have melded together. Serve the stew over a heaping pile of couscous.



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