Kelly Family Vineyards
Napa Valley AVA
For the Gene Kelly family, their small boutique winery is a true labor of love
For 61 year-old Gene Kelly, his famous name isn’t what he is best known for. The Minneapolis native feels that he is the only gunsmith-trained winery owner in the State of California, undoubtedly a rarity among upper echelon winery owners and winemakers.
“I graduated from Lassen Community College in Susanville, CA,” Kelly related. “Lassen is the oldest gun-smithing school in the United States and prepared me for a key role in the security industry of our country. Since I am basically an entrepreneur, I wanted something solid for what I intended to do with my life.”
It is interesting to note that Kelly’s family came to Napa Valley in 1968 at a time when the area held few wineries and was relatively pristine. “My dad, Harold Kelly, was in the equity agribusiness field and wanted to relocate the family to California. He was offered a district in Northern California and was successful in helping organize and fund many upcoming vineyard and winery projects, just as Napa was beginning to emerge as a powerful force in the wine industry. He chose Napa over a number of other areas, a decision he never regretted. Many of the big hitters of today’s wine giants were his clients, including Robert Mondavi, Warren Winiarski (Stags Leap Wine Cellars) and a host of other great names in the business.”
At one point, the Kelly Family’s interest in the wine business became personal and a 14-acre plot of vineyard land became available. Located in Napa Valley’s celebrated Oak Knoll District, the prime acreage is planted in Cabernet Sauvignon, easily the area’s most recognizable varietal. “We have been selling our grapes to Stag’s Leap Wine Cellars for many years,” informed Gene Kelly. “But this can be both good and bad. Sometimes they want all of our fruit and there’s very little left over for our Kelly Family Vineyards wines. When this happens, we pull a certain amount of our best fruit and make enough for our family and close friends.”
Kelly Family Vineyards first saw light in 2012 with an initial release of only 325 cases. As mentioned above, the winery’s case production varies with the amount of fruit available. “Our main function is as farmers and to grow exceptional grapes for our clients,” related Gene Kelly. “The fact that our own wines have become so popular and received such high scores is like ‘icing on the cake,’ to borrow an old phrase.”
Kelly also points to an early alliance as one of the reasons for his Kelly Family Vineyards’ successes. His winemaker is none other than Bob Pepi of the highly respected Robert Pepi Winery that had long been a Napa Valley fixture and leader. After the winery was old to Jess Jackson (Kendall-Jackson) in 1994, Bob began his own career as a wine consultant (in California, Argentina, Colorado and Texas) and also as the owner of Eponymous Wines, another top-flight winery label in Napa Valley.
“Bob is a family friend who has been a driving force among Napa Valley winemakers for the last forty years,” added Gene Kelly. “His wines and winemaking style have always been considered affordable which is saying something in an area like Napa Valley. We are fortunate to call him our friend as well as our winemaker.”
The Kelly Family Vineyards label is a story unto itself. “Since we are of Irish decent, I carefully researched our family logo and intended to use it on our label,” continued Kelly. “Then, I thought it might be better to modify it slightly so as to conform to what our specific family stands for. I kept the core and added a pair of muskets to feature my firearms training and background. The addition of the grapes is obvious. The Gaelic background and the gargoyles are original and a tribute to our family’s storied history.”
Gene Kelly is joined by his wife Paula in running the small winery. Paula handles all the customer service details as well as the bookkeeping duties. Son David is a fixture at all winery events and a recent graduate of Pepperdine College.
For the Gene Kelly family, their small boutique winery is a true labor of love. They feel the family is giving back for the abundance it has received throughout the years from its vineyards. It is a shame there isn’t more Kelly Family Vineyards to go around, and it is fortunate our Platinum Plus! Wine Club members are able to enjoy this exceptional 2014 Cabernet. Relish this wonderful wine! We hope you will find it truly memorable. Cheers!
Map of the area
Dear Platinum Wine Club Members,
It has often been said; “The wine is made in the vineyard.” Meaning; that the soil, the weather, along with the care and treatment of the vines is what truly gives the winemaker the raw materials to make great wine. With Kelly Family Vineyards, we know this to be true.
Our Cabernet Sauvignon vineyard is uniquely positioned along the west side of the Napa Valley, in the Oak Knoll District, right on the edge of the valley floor, with a slight slope that provides proper drainage of the soils.
We primarily dry farm the loamy soils for sustainability. This location also has the benefit of being adjacent to Bee Canyon, which provides us with cool evening breezes flowing directly across the vineyard from Mt. Veeder.
As the proprietor of Kelly Family Vineyards, I have the privilege of living on this 10-acre Napa Valley vineyard, waking up among the vines. As I look around, I thank the Lord every day for allowing me to care for this property. As you enjoy our wines, I hope that you taste the joy our family experiences, as we care for this vineyard.
Proprietor, Kelly Family Vineyards