FALL 2021 - WINTER 2022. NUMBER 46 - Keenan Winery
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FALL 2021 – WINTER 2022. NUMBER 46

PHOTO: Jennifer Keenan


State of the Wine Business - Back to Normal?

Despite the continuous barrage of recent negative news concerning the latest Variant threat, the world as seen through the lens of our winery is looking increasingly normal. Visitation at the winery seems to be back to normal.

We are seeing people from all over the country, not just the Bay Area, which was the case after we initially opened up after the original state-mandated shutdowns. Distributer sales from all over the country are back to the best levels we have ever seen. Most of our distributors have brought back all of their sales teams, and restaurants are bouncing back better than I thought they would.

The third leg of the return-to-normal stool is in-person wine tastings and fundraisers. People are once again scheduling these with certainty—what an enormous relief to all of us. At last, things are returning to the bustling state of affairs that we took for granted before the arrival of Covid and the great shutdown of March of 2020.

Now the challenge for us at the winery is how to tackle the legacy of the Glass Fire on our 2020 harvest. We will determine all of the blends and bottlings for the 2020 vintage in the next five months. As I have mentioned in previous missives, the quality of what we were able to harvest from our Estate in 2020 is very, very impressive.

The fact that we could not bring in any of our regular contracts from off-property means that we will most likely not be able to make a Napa Merlot, Napa Cabernet Sauvignon, Syrah, or Carneros Merlot. Our bottlings for 2020 will be all Estate, and by case, the quantity will be reduced by about a third. It will allow us to present the Estate in a new light with a few more single vineyard designates. I’m very excited by this vintage and by this challenge. By the time the Spring/Summer newsletter comes out, I will have some answers for you!

Cheers to the Future,
– Michael Keenan, Keenan Winery President


FALL 2021 - WINTER 2022.

The 2020/2021 rain season supplied very little rain, but the ’21 summer gave us plenty of heat! The vines stood up to the hot, dry conditions though. Harvest began early, and it was fast, with most of the estate vineyard blocks picked over the course of twenty days. The estate harvest began on September 2nd with Clone 4 Chardonnay.

The Chardonnay crop looked heavy, and it was. The first trailer loads showed up on the crush pad, but the picking crews had barely moved within the vineyard block. By the end of the day, we realized we were in for another amazing Chardonnay vintage. We finished picking our Dijon Clone Chardonnay the following day and ended up with yields around fifteen percent higher than average. The juice was luscious and rich, with crisp acidity.

The Point vineyard Zinfandel grapes were ready on September 4th. This vineyard surprised us with tonnage up by twenty-five percent. The Zinfandel vines in the Point are apparently embracing the rocky soils and hot afternoons that they are exposed to most summer days.

Cabernet Sauvignon ripened early and fast in 2021. The Cabernet harvest began on September 7th, and over the course of eight days, all of the estate Cabernet was brought in. Yields for the Cabernet looked good in the Spring. The berries didn’t size up as much as usual though. Clusters were light and it showed in the yields. We saw a thirty percent decrease in tonnage, but the tiny berries provided amazing intensity and concentration.

The Merlot blocks were picked between September 10th and the 21st. Yields were down a bit, but the clusters were beautiful. Some of the clusters turned a spectacular dark purple color just before harvest: a “second veraison” as Michael Keenan refers to it.

Harvest ended on October 1st with our purchase contracts for Carneros Merlot and Coombsville Syrah. We saw our first rain of the season on October 17th and by October 31st we had over sixteen inches! It’s a good start to the new season… we’ll see where it leads us.

Matt Gardner, Keenan Winery General Manager

You are Invited in 2022!


SATURDAY, June 18th, 2022
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

DON’T MISS ROBERT KEENAN WINERY’S Summer Open House this summer, beginning at 11 am on Saturday. Taste current releases and library wines and sample some of our young wines still aging in oak barrels. In addition, we will have appetizers paired with our award-winning wines.

This event is by invitation only and is free to Wine Club members. Non-club member adult tickets are $40. RSVP by Monday, June 13th.


reasons to plan a winter winery visit

2019 Chardonnay
The Wine Advocate, January 2021
90 Points
“The 2019 Chardonnay starts with subtle notes of lemon drops and white peaches, giving way to scents of baking bread and honeydew melon. The medium to full-bodied palate has a pleasant oiliness to the texture and great freshness, lifting the stone fruit and citrus layers with a clean, lively finish.”-Lisa Perrotti-Brown

2017 Keenan Mernet, Reserve, Spring Mountain District
Antonio Galloni, Vinous, January 2020
93 Points
“The 2017 Red Blend Mernet Reserve is deep, fleshy, and wonderfully seductive, with soft fruit, silky contours, and open-knit aromatics – all of which make the 2017 a real pleasure to taste today.”-Antonio Galloni

2017 Cabernet Sauvignon Napa Valley
Wine & Spirits Magazine, December 2020
90 Points
“With its sweet cherry spice and supple espresso-roast tannins, this is a rich, round cabernet with density and length. Pour it while grilling a sirloin steak.”-Joshua Greene

Antonio Galloni, Vinous, January 2021
91 Points
“The 2018 Merlot is bright, fresh and floral, all of which make it extremely appealing to drink now. Readers will find a mid-weight, refined Merlot full of charm. Crushed red berry fruit, spice and floral notes linger nicely.” -Antonio Galloni

Antonio Galloni, Vinous, January 2021
93 Points
“Keenan’s 2018 Merlot Reserve Mailbox Vineyard is another attractive wine in the range. It offers darker tonalities of fruit to match its mid-weight personality. A touch of oak sweetness is well-judged in this very appealing, supple Merlot from Keenan. Hints of lavender, mocha and spice add raciness throughout.” -Antonio Galloni

In the last eighteen vintages, Robert Parker Jr.’s “The Wine Advocate” has rated one-hundred Keenan wines between 90 and 97 points.


2019 Keenan Chardonnay Spring Mountain District

Keenan’s 2019 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 this wine’s crisp, citrus character. 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.

2018 Keenan Merlot Napa Valley

Keenan Winery is located in Spring Mountain District, high in the Mayacamas mountain range above the town of Saint Helena. Eleven acres of Merlot vines have been planted in the rocky soils surrounding the winery, and it is these vines that produce some of the finest Merlot in Napa. The vineyards are situated above the dense layer of fog that creeps up the Napa Valley most evenings. Consequently, the vines warm-up earlier in the morning and stay warm through the night. The combination of warm temperatures, steep hillside vine rows, and gravelly soils promotes more stress on the vines leading to increased intensity in the finished wine.

The 2018 Keenan Merlot is composed of seventy-six percent Keenan Estate Merlot. Twenty-four 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 ‘18 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.

2018 Keenan Zinfandel Napa Valley

Keenan’s 2018 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.

Once harvested, the grapes were de-stemmed then fermented in small lots. Primary fermentation lasted seven to ten days. The wine was aged in French and American oak barrels for eighteen months.

The finished wine shows intense black cherry and raspberry fruit in the nose, while hints of black pepper and vanilla add complexity. This rich, full-bodied Zinfandel will accompany many foods, but we suggest gamey meats grilled as an excellent match for the Keenan Zin.

2017 Cabernet Sauvignon Napa Valley

The 2017 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.

Keenan’s Estate Cabernet Sauvignon grapes were harvested beginning on September 9th, with the final lot being picked on October 10th. After harvest, the fruit clusters were de-stemmed, then fermented for ten to fourteen days. The wine was barrel-aged in thirty-three percent new French and American oak for twenty months.

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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