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Gold Medal Wine Club
5330 Debbie Road, Suite 200
Santa Barbara, California 93111
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Keller Estate - Petaluma River Region - Sonoma Cou

95 Points, Wine Enthusiast 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, consisting of just under 2,000 cases of Estate Chardonnay and Pinot Noir. The label design for 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 Estate
    2007 Pinot Noir
    Keller Estate


    95 - Wine Enthusiast
    id: 812