FALL-WINTER 2020-21, from The President’s Desk - Keenan Winery
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FALL-WINTER 2020-21, from The President’s Desk

The Keenan team at the thankfully still standing winery wishes you a happy holiday season.



I thought I would use the newsletter this time to simply highlight all the things that I have really enjoyed this year, and there have been many!

I have saved a boatload of money on travel this year. It has now become abundantly clear to me why so many people have wanted to visit the winery all these years; it’s beautiful here! I know some people keep track of how many ski days a year they get in and I have never kept track of how many days I spend at the winery each year, but whatever my previous best was I shattered it this year.

Michael Keenan

The benefits have been manifest. We were able to take our time blending the 2018 vintage, and what a vintage it has turned out to be.
I have never eaten so much fresh organic produce out of our garden. I have never prepared so many delicious meals at the winery for our team and tried so many new recipes. After this, I’m off to buy a new fondue pot! I have never spent so much quality time with our grown children (I really like them!)

We have found some fun new ways of marketing our wines. Who knew that you could still forge a sense of connection through a computer screen with total strangers and have such a good time.

I’ve started a new bird-themed series of wines, no telling how long that will run. And what a pleasure it has been sharing the joys of birding with my son Reilly, who has really gotten the ‘bug’.

My lovely wife Jennifer and I just celebrated our 33rd anniversary and realized if we can survive this year we can get through anything! (and yes, I love her deeply!).

And lastly, the legacy of this year will be the incredible estate wines we will (yes, quite extraordinary!) make and will be able to enjoy and reminisce about for many, many years to come

Holiday Cheers for now and the future!

–Michael Keenan


The 2019/2020 rain season supplied minimal precipitation; less than 23 inches of rain fell between October and June. Average rainfall on Spring Mountain tallies 50+ inches, so it was a significant shortfall. In spite of a mild winter and spring, the vines took their time coming out of dormancy. By June, we antic- ipated the vineyards were close to two weeks behind average.

As the summer progressed, the vines accelerated, and by late July it appeared the vineyards were back on track for a normal har- vest start date, somewhere within the second week of September. August was warmer than usual, with many afternoons reaching into the 90s. We found ourselves picking the first grapes of the 2020 vintage on August 31. A little over a ton of our Mourvèdre was harvested, and the 2020 harvest was off and running.

Our Chardonnay harvest began on September 2. The Chardonnay flavors developed early this year, and we were able to harvest at low sugars and great natural acidity. The Cabernet in the terraces and Merlot “Original” came in next. The total estate Merlot yield was close to average, but the Merlot Original block seemed to thrive this growing season and supplied its highest yield to date.

The Cabernet Sauvignon and Zinfandel from the Point block were ready next. The yields from the Point block were on oppo- site ends of the spectrum. The Cabernet Sauvignon was lowest yield on record, while the Zinfandel smashed its previous record by an additional thirty percent!

Over the next week and a half we picked one or two blocks every day. The Merlot harvest wrapped up on September 17 and the Cabernet Sauvignon and Cabernet Franc on September 18. Cabernet Sauvignon yields were slightly below average, and Cabernet Franc yield from our Upper 4 block was slightly above average.

The 2020 harvest ended on September 18. One block each of Zinfandel, Cabernet Sauvignon and Cabernet Franc weren’t quite ready to pick and remained on the vine. When the Glass fire engulfed Spring Mountain District, the thick smoke settled in and impacted the fruit in these blocks. The damage was done.

Overall this was a very small loss in light of the massive destruc- tion that occurred so close to us.
It’s a different landscape we live and work in now. The grass is green under the vines though, and everyday I see more signs of the forest coming back to life. We’re looking forward to spring time…
–Matt Gardner

Keenan Winery and Cellar with Barrels Outside

Wine & Spirit Magazine, June 2020
93 Points
“Michael Keenan farms a large block of chardonnay adjacent to his winery on Spring Mountain, the vines planted in 1995, close enough to underground springs that they provide an abundant crop without irrigation. His 2018 is intriguing and layered, a complex moun- tain-grown chardonnay with an earthy tannic briskness to sustain it. The flavors range from lime to yellow apple and green plum, firm enough to absorb the oak in which it aged, and to last, with the cool pallor of a morning-sun wine.”– Joshua Greene

Wine & Spirit Magazine, June 2020
92 Points
“Michael Keenan farms zinfandel vines on an east-facing slope high up Spring Mountain that provide 80 percent of this wine (the parcels include five percent alicante and carignane). The balance comes from a vineyard Peter Nissen tends in Calistoga, where the vines are 70 years old. The combination yields a wine with intense dark fruit—it has the perfume of black cherries as their skins are just coming into ripeness. The minerally tannins are earthy, with a cola-like spice; their reduction seems to be tied to the site’s volcanic soils. It’s a wine with power and grace, built to age ten years or more..”– Joshua Greene,

Robert M. Parker Jr., The Wine Advocate, December 2018
90 Points
“The 2016 Cabernet Sauvignon is deep garnet-purple colored with a plums, cassis and baked berries nose with violets, cedar, cigars and earth.
The medium to full-bodied mouth is firm and grainy with decent concentra- tion and an earthy finish.”– Lisa Perrotti-Brown,

Antonio Galloni, Vinous, December 2018
92 Points
“The 2016 Merlot Reserve Mailbox Vineyard is powerful, deep and resonant, and yet also retains a striking sense of classicism in its structural feel. Savory and floral notes add aromatic intrigue to this deceptively medium-bodied wine. Graphite, mint, lavender and black cherry are some of the many notes that develop as the 2016 opens up in the glass”

Antonio Galloni, Vinous, December 2018
95 Points
“Another of the highlights in this range, the 2016 Red Blend Mernet Reserve is wonderfully dense and fleshy in the glass. Succulent red cherry and pomegranate fruit fill out as this succulent, racy blend shows off its alluring personality. The Mernet is impeccable in its balance.”


2018 Chardonnay Spring Mtn. Dist.

Keenan’s 2018 Chardonnay was hand harvested, de- stemmed, then gently pressed. The juice was fer- mented and aged in French and American oak barrels. The wine was left on the lees and the barrels were stirred weekly. No sec- ondary, 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 com- plexity, 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

2017 Merlot Napa Valley

The 2017 Keenan Merlot is composed of sixty-eight -percent Keenan Estate Merlot. Thirty-two percent of the wine is Merlot fruit har- vested 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 ‘17 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.

2016 Zinfandel Napa Valley

Keenan’s 2016 Zinfandel is made up of grapes grown pri- marily 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 pep- per and vanilla add complexity. This is a rich, full-bodied Zinfandel that will accompany a wide array of foods, but we suggest gamey meats, grilled as a great match for the Keenan Zin.

2016 Cabernet Sauvignon Napa Valley

The 2016 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 concen- tration and remarkable structure, while the portion of Cabernet harvested from Pope Valley adds complex aromas and a balanced mid-palate.

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