Santa Ynez Valley AVA
Striving to express the uniqueness and beauty of the vineyards in their wines
The story behind Kessler-Haak Vineyards is a familiar one in the wine industry. Dan Kessler started drinking wine, then learned about wine, became a home winemaker and eventually planted 200 vines in his backyard. His wife, Ellen Haak-Kessler was a native Oregonian and also a successful software developer who shared his interest in wine. Along the way, Dan Kessler also earned a winemaking certificate from the first UC Davis Distance Learning Program and developed a fondness for the difficult Pinot Noir varietal.
More than a decade ago, the couple fell in love with the Sta. Rita Hills AVA and decided to purchase a 40-acre parcel. In 2005, they planted Pinot Noir (7 different clones) and Chardonnay (3 clones) in the cool climate region and began life as vineyard owners.
In the vineyard, the couple’s practices are strictly organic although they are not certified organic. Kessler-Haak Vineyards firmly believes they are growers first and vintners second. To prove that point, Dan Kessler proudly stated, “We live on and work in the vineyard. Coaxing the best fruit from each vine requires an integral involvement with the grape growing process; being there each day, touching the vines and soil and being hands on in all aspects of the farming.” He also pointed to the fact, “that ripeness ultimately reflects time and place, is the ultimate confluence of these factors.” Such passion has produced some excellent results for Kessler-Haak Vineyards in the form of high scores and awards.
Production wise, all fruit is picked nocturnally. Most of Kessler-Haak Vineyards’ wines are unfined and unfiltered and allow a winemaker’s insight into the true aspects of each wine. The Pinot Noirs are unracked for 10 months before being moved to the bottling line. After completing the process, the winery holds its releases an extra year for bottle ageing, a relatively uncommon trait for small operations that sometimes live on their hard earned cash flow.
Life is about the journey. For Kessler-Haak, that journey involves wine and its incredible ability as a medium to capture the essence of its origin—the vineyard. Through the wines, they strive to express the uniqueness and beauty of place and to capture — for a moment — all that was in a year.
Such dedication and exertions have made Kessler-Haak a premier candidate for our Garagiste Wine Club. We will continue to search for such candidates and bring their stories and personalities to light. Enjoy this wonderful Garagiste wine.