Keller Estate - Casa Wines
Sonoma Coast AVA
The Keller family sustainably and organically farms world-class fruit from the Petaluma Gap in Sonoma County
While driving through the scenic Sonoma County roads more than thirty years ago, Arturo Keller and his wife Deborah 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 and its sister brand, Casa Wines. 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 race car 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. Arturo also selected the property for its potential as a world-class vineyard site, and in 1989, La Cruz Vineyard was born.
Over time, Arturo added more acreage to include Pinot Noir, Syrah, Viognier and Pinot Gris, 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 wines in 2001, an 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 now 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.
Ana has now taken over the reins at Keller Estate and works to create wines that reflect a sense of place, while in harmony with the family’s approach to elegant, age-worthy, and food-friendly wines. She also started a sister brand, Casa Wines, which are sourced exclusively from the family’s La Cruz Vineyard. Casa Wines produces Chardonnay, Pinot Noir and a Red Blend for everyday enjoyment that express the unique terroir of the site.
To further promote the team’s interest and respect for the environment, Keller Estate completed the California Sustainable Winegrowing Program. The winery utilizes a natural water source, promotes local wildlife to live on the property, and is home to thousands of newly planted trees. The vines are all grown sustainably and organically. Keller Estate has become one of the gems of Sonoma County, with one of the most distinctive, exciting collections of estate-grown wines in the region. We hope our Gold Wine Club members enjoy a pair of their latest winning releases. Cheers!
Map of the area
Wine Wizard - Trivia Time!
1. What is the difference between Sustainable, Organic and Biodynamic Wine?
Consumers have become increasingly more eco-savvy in the way they wine shop, but what is the difference between the key eco-buzz words - Sustainable, Organic, and Biodynamic? Here’s a breakdown to better understand what you’re purchasing when you see these terms on wine labels. When a wine is termed ‘Sustainable,’ it means the winery engages in eco-friendly practices such as limiting/eliminating chemical waste and the use of pesticides, replanting crops or trees to replace those harvested for production, reducing their carbon footprint, recycling packaging, taking part in energy efficiency initiatives, wildlife conservation and other ‘green’ initiatives. Sustainability basically implies that the business is leaving as little negative impact on the earth as possible.
On the other hand, if a wine is ‘Organic,’ that means the wine is not only made from organic grapes, but there are also no added sulfites during production. Few realize that organic grapes and organic wines are two very different things - organic grapes means no synthetic pesticides were used in the vineyard, but if the wine made from those grapes has sulfites added during production, it cannot be termed an ‘organic wine,’ only that it is a wine ‘made from organic grapes.’
The final buzz word we will breakdown is ‘Biodynamic Wine,’ which is a giant step beyond Organic. Biodynamic farming, by definition, is a spiritual-ethical-ecological approach to agriculture, gardens, food production and nutrition. Biodynamic wine is made with a set of farming practices that views the vineyard as one solid organism. The idea is to create a self-sustaining system with natural materials, soils and composts used to sustain the vineyard. Chemical fertilizers and pesticides are forbidden, and instead, a range of animals will typically live on the soil to fertilize it and create a rich, fertile environment for the vines to grow in. Biodynamic wine farming also has an association with ancient agricultural concepts such as following lunar growing cycles and astrological charts, connecting the earth, the vines, and the solar system. There is a fairly strict calendar identifying which days are best for harvesting, pruning and watering under biodynamic farming.
2. What are sulfites in wine?
‘Sulfites’ is an inclusive term for sulfur dioxide, a preservative that’s widely used in winemaking (and most food industries) for its antioxidant and antibacterial properties, meaning it helps prevent oxidation and maintains a wine’s freshness. Did you know that sulfites are also naturally produced during the fermentation process? There are actually very few wines that are made without some use of sulfites, and this is because wine is perishable, prone to oxidation and the development of aldehyde off-odors. They are particularly important for preserving freshness in white wines and help guarantee that the bottle of wine you open will taste as the winemaker intended. All that said, we are beginning to see more “natural” wines on the market where little or no sulfites are added, which is a great development for those who have an allergy to sulfites.
Ana Keller - Estate Director, Winemaker & Daughter
When Ana Keller learned that her father Arturo intended to enter the wine business in 1989, she literally jumped in with both feet. Brought up in Mexico, Ana was the recipient of degrees from both the University of Mexico (biopharmaceutical chemistry) and a Masters in Pharmaceutical Development from the prestigious King's College in London. The city of London proved to be a pivotal spot for Ana when she took her first formal wine tasting lessons while attending school there.
Now a youngish 42, Ana Keller is all about the winery experience. Having spent nearly 25 years in the wine industry, she speaks a wine veteran's lingo with great enthusiasm and vigor.
Her most rewarding experience?
"It is definitely sitting in a restaurant, and the table next to me orders a bottle of our wine without knowing who I am," she related. "It is instant gratification when they take the first sip and express their enjoyment. I wouldn't trade the experience for anything."
Ana's first brush with wine came early in life when she spent her holidays in France's Loire Valley harvesting grapes from the vineyards.
"When my father asked me to join him in establishing Keller Estate, I was overjoyed," she related. "We have accomplished much of what we initially set out to do, and it's up to me to continue to make sure our quality never fluctuates."
Ana has insisted on a unique way of ensuring that quality tradition continues. "We always bring out 6 or 7 of our prior vintages to taste right before we sit down for the final blending of our wines. This process really confirms the fact that the new wines really relate to the terroir of our Estate. We are dedicated to the utmost quality we can achieve with each vintage, and that is the promise of our winery."
Ana Keller was heavily involved in the effort to make her property part of the new AVA (American Viticultural Area) called the Petaluma Gap AVA.
"When you consider what the winds of the gap do to the area and to the grapes themselves, it seems to be a no-brainer. The winds force our grapes (Pinot Noir) to develop thicker skins and that in itself changes the equation. The Petaluma Gap has become a world-class growing area and recognized for exceptional wines. When we first started, this was all Sonoma County AVA.
Ana Keller devotes 100 percent of her time to Keller Estate and confided that her parents are still active in the business. "Whenever my father is available, he sits in on our meetings and tastings. He is still quite active and his passion for cars takes up a great deal of his time. He cares a great deal about the winery since it is still a relatively small family operation."
Ana Keller is unique to the wine industry in that her first passion was for plants. This passion turned to vines and then to wines. She has utilized modern technology to its fullest but still remains true to a minimalistic approach to winemaking, not an easy task in today's winemaking world.
We salute Ana Keller and her excellent wines as we introduce them to you as our Gold Wine Club feature. We know you will enjoy these exceptional wines from this emerging wine-producing area.
About the Vineyard
The Keller Estate 2009 La Cruz Vineyard Pinot Noir is comprised of fruit from the Keller family’s estate 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 there were once San Pablo Bay seabeds. This mineral character comes through in the wines and is very much a part of the Keller Estate’s unique terroir.
Higher up on the Keller Estate property lies the 20-acre El Coro block that is home to several different clones of Pinot Noir. Here, the vines are more exposed to the winds that bring the Pacific maritime air and fog through the Petaluma Gap.
The expansive Keller Estate property allows the team to select the ideal growing area for each clone and varietal, and the result is an incredibly diverse line up of expressive, Petaluma Gap wines.
Julien Teichmann - Winemaker
Born in Goettingen, Germany, Winemaker Julien Teichman joined Keller Estate in 2018. Julien’s passion for fermentation began with an internship at a brewery, and as intriguing as it was, he found something was missing. To figure out this enigma, Julien spent some time in Florence, Italy where he had his first contact with winemaking, and most importantly, with vineyards. Soon, the art of wine and the ‘full circle from vineyard to bottle’ made sense, and it was clear where his purpose was. Julien then earned a degree in winemaking from the Weincampus Neustadt in Germany.
Julien traveled the world working harvests and finally came to the United States in 2013, where he spent time at Kosta Brown and Merry Edwards before joining Keller Estate. He has a profound respect for the vineyard and a holistic approach to farming and winemaking, making him a perfect fit at Keller Estate.
Dear Platinum Wine Club Members,
It is our great pleasure to introduce you to the inaugural vintage of the Rôtie, Northern Rhône blend! Rotie pays homage to Côte Rôtie, the northernmost appellation of the Rhône Valley in France. Côte Rôtie is famously translated to “the roasted slope,” referring to the long hours of sunlight that grapes receive on these steep slopes. We created our Rôtie according to the same appellation rules; co-fermentation of Syrah and a maximum of 20% Viognier (ours having 5%) in the same tank. The earthy characteristics of Syrah are naturally balanced out by the natural floral notes in Viognier, leaving you with a brighter, more aromatic version of our La Cruz Syrah.
This traditional blend combined with sustainable farming practices creates a wine that is powerful, yet elegant. Soft floral notes penetrate through the minerality on the nose with hints of exotic spices. The palate reveals dark fruit dominated by blackberries and plums, finishing with velvety tannins on a long, smooth finish. Our goal at Keller Estate is to produce wines exclusively from fruit grown on our family run estate. Our unique micro-climate in the Petaluma Gap provides a cool climate that allows for a more restrained, elegant style Syrah. We believe that wines like our Rôtie are a wonderful representation of what Syrah-based wines from Sonoma should be. Keller Estate invites you to enjoy the 2010 Rôtie with a variety of red meats or wild game, or simply by itself. No matter how you enjoy this wine, we trust it will be a memorable experience.