Sonoma Coast AVA
One of the gems of Sonoma County's Petaluma Gap AVA
More than thirty years ago, Arturo Keller and his wife Deborah made their way through a scenic section of lower Sonoma County and came upon a most picturesque piece of land. It then served as a dairy grazing farm, but taken by the natural beauty of the place, the Kellers bought the 650 acres to turn it into vineyard land.
The first twenty acres of Chardonnay (La Cruz Vineyard) were planted in 1989, making them some of the first vines in this region. Pinot Noir and Syrah grapes came soon after. In 2000 they began making wine, and Keller Estate was born. The Kellers, called upon their daughter Ana, a biochemist, to join in their new wine venture. Ana has actively lead the winery since 2000 and was critical in the establishment of the new Petaluma Gap AVA, which has further defined this unique growing region.
The Kellers released their first 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 literally means 'cellar' in German and was a special place where valuable commodities were kept and passed on from family to family.
The winery itself was designed by renowned Mexican architect (Legorreta) and was completed in 2003. The grounds are spacious, and the gravity-flow state-of-the-art winery is beautiful, a stunning tasting room where visitors can enjoy an array of paintings and unique works of art.
This month's feature comes from the Keller's El Coro Vineyard, which sits high on the property's ridge-top where the vines are more exposed to the winds that bring the Pacific maritime air and fog through the Petaluma Gap. The Pinot Noirs from El Coro are very expressive, with beautiful aromatics and great structure that shine through.
Keller Estate has now 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 Pinot Noir Wine Club members enjoy one of their latest winning releases. Cheers!
Map of the area
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
Julien Teichmann is the winemaker at Keller Estate. Born in Goettingen, Germany. His passion for fermentation started with an internship at the brewery where his brother worked. As intriguing as it was, Julien 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. The drive to earn a degree in winemaking was the natural next step, and he received his degree from the Weincampus Neustadt, Germany.
After his studies, Julien traveled the world working harvests: from Romania, New Zealand to Australia, and finally the U.S. in 2013 for an internship at Kosta Browne where he got a glimpse of the California way of winemaking. As he says, where "tech meets wine," and a true state of the art quality-driven winery. After some time at Merry Edwards, Keller Estate was lucky to entice him to join the team as Assistant Winemaker early 2017. In April 2018, Julien took the helm of winemaking at Keller Estate, alongside Ana Keller, they are crafting wines and nurture the vineyard.
Critical in Julien's career has been profound respect for the vineyard and a holistic approach to farming and winemaking, making him a perfect fit for 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.