Better than a Dream - Keenan Winery
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Better than a Dream


I’m frequently asked, “How was harvest?” This year my answer was, “Like a dream”. Everything about this harvest, and quite frankly, the entire growing season was ideal. Bud break occurred at a normal time, weeks later ‘set’ was problem free and the growing season got off to a terrific start. In August veraison began and was beautifully even and delightfully drawn out and the Zinfandel crop, which can be notoriously uneven, was as even as we have ever seen it. It was such a pleasure to walk the vineyards in the weeks preceding harvest and bask in the glory of all of these perfectly shaped broad shouldered even ripening clusters.

There were no adverse weather events at any time in the season and harvest started at the perfectly normal date of the 13th of September. Harvest hit a fever pitch pretty quickly and just as all of our fermentation tanks filled to capacity a perfectly timed rain event hit on September 29th and gave us a weeks’ break from picking. Picking then resumed with open tanks awaiting and in two more weeks harvest was complete. Usually when harvest is over we all have a sense of relief but this year I was left with a wistful feeling for I will miss walking in the vineyards and looking at the prettiest crop I have ever seen. Great quality and great yields make for a dream like scenario. But what makes this last harvest better than a dream is that for decades to come we will be able to enjoy the fruits of this vintage.

And speaking of dreams, the cover wine for this issue, the 2012 Side by Side, literally came to me in a dream back in August of 2006. This might be the best wine we make and for those not in the know, this is one of our ‘secret’ wines. These are wines (there are now 5 of them!) that are never shown in public, never submitted for review and not even on our website. And yes there is a ‘secret’ club, check it out!

Holiday Cheers!


Great growing conditions do lead to bountiful yields! Even the Keenan Chardonnay vineyard thrived this year in spite of a recent disease infestation that led to significant vine removal from the block. It must be a great year when you lose twenty percent of a vineyard and still end up prospering!

Over the last couple years we have noticed more and more of the Chardonnay vines were going through bud break and then stalling. Shoot growth was slowing down in late spring/early summer and young clusters would wither and fall to the ground. Anticipating a virus or other disease might be settling into the vineyard, cuttings from a few of the weak vines were submitted to a laboratory for pathology analysis. Results showed that the cuttings were free of all viruses, but were positive for Pierce’s Disease: a bacterial infection within a vine’s vascular tissues.

Pierce’s disease is not a new disease. It was first detected in Anaheim California in 1892. Over the years the bacterial infestation has affected vineyards all over the state, and it appears to currently be more prevalent in certain parts of Napa county. There is no cure for the disease once a vine is infected, so the only option is to pull the diseased vines from the ground and replant with healthy young vines.

This summer, over an acre’s worth of Chardonnay vines were removed from our six acre Chardonnay vineyard. The crazy part…? The 2018 Chardonnay yield still surpassed or rivaled annual yields for seven of the past eleven years! The healthy vines that remain are still producing wonderful hillside Chardonnay clusters like they have for many years past. We do plan on replacing the diseased Chardonnay vines that were removed sometime soon. There’s also a rumor that the Keenan Chardonnay vineyard might be christened with a unique name in the near future. Stay tuned…

Here’s to a superb 2018 vintage!

Matt Gardner

Cruise German Rivers in 2019 with Michael and Jennifer Keenan.

11 AM – 3 PM

  • Wine Tasting and Appetizers
  • Current release wines, library wines and secret wines!
  • Taste barrel samples and purchase wine futures
  • Tour our historic cellar and meet the winery staff
  • Enjoy the views from our mountainside winery

Taste current releases as well as library wines, and even sample some of our young wines still aging in oak barrels. Appetizers will be served to compliment our award-winning wines.

, beginning at 11 am on Saturday June 15th.

This event is by invitation only, and is free to Wine Club members, however $40 per adult will be charged for non-Wine Club members. Please RSVP with the number of guests in your party by June 10th.

Please note: we will be capping attendance this year at 300 guests.



Wine & Spirits Magazine, April 2018
90 Points
Spicy and savory, this oak-and-mineral-driven chardonnay delivers flavors of bacon fat and hominy. It carries its juicy, bold flavors into an austere, dry finish. Point it towards milk-braised veal.

Antonio Galloni, Vinous, December 2016
92 Points
Keenan’s 2014 Merlot is a very pretty wine that shows the more translucent side of Merlot. Lifted, bright and articulate, the 2014 offers lovely finesse in its red-toned fruit and floral aromatics.

Antonio Galloni, Vinous, March 2018
95 Points
The 2015 Merlot Reserve Mailbox Vineyard is fabulous. Deep, rich and exquisitely layered, the 2015 is all class. There is a level of translucence in the 2015 that is captivating. At the same time, the wine possesses striking persistence and delineation. Dark cherry, sweet tobacco and floral notes that add lift through to the finish. The Mailbox is one of the most compelling Merlots being made in Napa Valley. Don’t miss it.

Robert M. Parker Jr., The Wine Advocate, Issue #228, 12/2016
95 Points
The 2014 Cabernet Sauvignon Reserve Spring Mountain (97% Cabernet Sauvignon and 3% Cabernet Franc, all sourced from their high-elevation vineyards on Spring Mountain) is the deepest, richest wine of the entire portfolio, with an opaque purple color and a super-pure nose of crème de cassis and blueberries. The wine is rich, full-bodied, nicely textured, and very long in the finish, with ripe tannins. It can be drunk now or cellared for another 15 or more years.


2016 Chardonnay Spring Mountain District

Keenan’s 2016 Chardonnay was hand harvested, de-stemmed, then gently pressed. The juice was fermented and aged in French and American oak barrels. The wine was left on the lees and the barrels were stirred weekly. No secondary, or malolactic fermentation was carried out, leading to the crisp, citrus character of this wine.

The wine was bottled after approximately seven months of aging in the cellar. The finished wine shows citrus, ripe pear and green apple in the nose. Hints of lush white peach are noticed as the wine opens up. The sur-lie aging has added richness and complexity, and a touch of toasty oak returns on the finish. Like all of Keenan’s wines, this Chardonnay is a food worthy wine whose crisp acidity and medium body will accompany a wide variety of cuisine.

2014 Merlot Napa Valley

The 2014 Keenan Merlot is composed of eighty one percent Keenan Estate Merlot. Nineteen percent of the wine is Merlot fruit harvested from the Napa Carneros region. After hand harvesting, the grapes were de-stemmed, then inoculated with Montrachet yeast. Fermentation ranged from ten to fourteen days. The ‘14 Merlot has been aged in thirty-three percent new French and American oak barrels for eighteen months. The resulting wine shows intense aromas of black cherry, blackberry, and cassis.

Complex nuances of cocoa and coffee bean emerge as the wine opens up. This is a “big” Merlot that will age for many years to come.

2014 Zinfandel Napa Valley

Keenan’s 2014 Zinfandel is made up of grapes grown primarily on Keenan’s Spring Mountain District estate. The Estate Zinfandel imparts structure, ripe black fruit and complex earthy nuances. Zinfandel grown in Calistoga makes up the remainder of the blend and supplies spice and briary red fruit aromas. The finished wine shows intense black cherry and raspberry fruit in the nose, while hints of black pepper and vanilla add complexity.

This is a rich, full-bodied Zinfandel that will accompany a wide array of foods, but we suggest anything barbecued – smoky barbecued flavor is a great match for the Keenan Zin.

2014 Cabernet Sauvignon Napa Valley

The 2014 Cabernet Sauvignon is composed primarily of grapes grown on Keenan’s Spring Mountain District Estate; the remainder of the fruit was harvested from Pope Valley, a grape growing region located in the eastern portion of Napa. The blend was assembled just before bottling. The Estate grown Cabernet imparts amazing concentration and remarkable structure, while the portion of Cabernet harvested from Pope Valley adds complex aromas and a balanced mid-palate.

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