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Let’s make Christmas Great Again!

Fall-Winter 2016-17 Number 36

From the President’s Desk
Let’s make Christmas Great Again!
Or, what I really want from Santa this year

Now I know no politician either national or local has ever really run on reducing the regulatory burden on small business so I am going to have to take this appeal directly to Santa. Santa, if you are listening, what I want for Christmas is less burdensome paper work from county, state and federal agencies.

This is something I have been quietly complaining to myself about for the past year or so. It seemed to me that every month or so some new regulation would pop up from the county, state or one of the many federal agencies that love to get in on the action. The tipping point came for me last week when Matt, our tireless General Manager, told me that we got a letter from the TTB (federal agency that governs what we put on our labels and other fun things) informing us that our labels were not in compliance. And here is the bizarre part; they have not been compliant for our entire 40-year history. Imagine my reaction. And if anyone can guess what is amiss with our labels I’ll be VERY impressed. Hint: its really stupid!!

This conversation prompted me to ask Matt (who really does work too hard) how much time do you spend dealing with our regulatory burden. His response stunned me, 40%. For a small company with only 4 full time employees to have to allocate 40% of the GM’S time to compliance with the myriad agencies that look over us seems a little out of whack to me. And keep in mind we no longer handle compliance with all the states outside of California that we ship wine to; we hired a compliance company earlier this year to handle that ever-increasing nightmare.

So Santa, if you have time to make a small businessman really happy this Christmas, give me a call. I have some great ideas!

Holiday Cheers!



2016 Growing Season, Harvest and Christmas Wines

Increased winter rainfall along with optimal spring and summer weather conditions were much appreciated this year. The vines soaked up rain, and favorable springtime temperatures supported healthy flowering and set. Merlot and Zinfandel yields were significantly above average, while Chardonnay, Cabernet Franc and Cabernet Sauvignon yields were only slightly above average. The 2016 harvest was a fast one though; over the course of 21 days we picked the entire Keenan estate. Our estate harvest usually lasts four to six weeks.

Keenan’s harvest began with Clone 4 Chardonnay on September 6th and Dijon Clone Chardonnay on September 7th. The Chardonnay flavors developed early this, yet the juice samples revealed relatively low sugar content. Now aging in barrel, the ’16 Chardonnay exhibits great acidity and wonderful rich flavors and texture.

The Merlot from the Lower Bowl and Mailbox Vineyard ripened right on the heels of the Chardonnay and supplied above average yields. The Merlot fermenting in tanks revealed bright, juicy flavors, while tannins were mild and aromatics intense. We finished picking the Lower Merlot on September 12th. Within one week we had harvested over forty percent of the 2016 estate tonnage!

Zinfandel and Cabernet Sauvignon were our next focus. The old half-acre Zinfandel block took us by surprise and ripened much earlier than usual. Cabernet Sauvignon form the Point and Upper Bowl vineyards were next in line. The Cabernet Sauvignon is showing amazing concentration with lush powdery tannins.

By September 21st our last blocks of Merlot and most of the Cabernet Franc had been harvested, and all of our fermentation tanks were full. Only a few blocks on the estate remained, and by September 26th our harvest on Spring Mountain was finished.

It’s enlightening to see these hillside vineyards age so gracefully. The majority of vines on the Keenan estate no longer require irrigation, yet the vineyards are maintaining yields and producing the some of finest fruit to date.

Cheers to the 2016 vintage! Cheers to Christmas wines!

Matt Gardner

FEATURED RELEASE: Yummy Christmas Wines


2013 Cabernet Franc Napa Valley$68/bottle

This wine was produced exclusively from grapes grown on the Keenan Estate located in Napa Valley’s Spring Mountain District. Our two blocks of Cabernet Franc were harvested on October 2nd and October 4th, 2013. The fruit was hand-picked then, after de-stemming, the must was inoculated with Montrachet yeast and fermented in stainless steel tanks. The wine aged in French and American oak barrels for twenty months.“Freakishly good” is how we have come to describe this single vineyard Cabernet Franc from our highest elevation vineyard (approx. 2000′) aptly named the “Upper Bowl”. Cabernet Franc is simply not supposed to be this delicious. The 2013 vintage has some of the most pinpoint laser-like flavors we have ever seen due to a higher than normal natural acid level at harvest. Enjoy now or decades from now. Perfect to add to your collection of Christmas wines!

Robert M. Parker Jr., The Wine Advocate, Issue
#222 Dec 2015

94 Points
One of Napa Valley’s most successful Cabernet Francs, Keenan’s 2013 Cabernet Franc, is 100% estate Cabernet Franc from their holdings on Spring Mountain. Beautiful blueberry and raspberry fruit interwoven with spring flowers jumps from the glass of this wonderfully balanced and elegant, yet authoritative wine. It is rich, medium to full-bodied, but at the same time ethereal and finesse-oriented. This is a great example of Cabernet Franc at its best, intense, but elegant. This should last for at least another decade.



  • 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.

DON’T MISS ROBERT KEENAN WINERY’S 2016 Summer Open House, beginning at 11 am on Saturday June 17th.

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 Tuesday, June 14th.

Please note: we will be capping attendance this year at 350 guests.



PRESS RELEASE: Christmas Wines

Wine & Spirits Magazine, Feb 2016
93 Points
Totally savory, this wine smells like seashells and tastes like green lime pith. It’s a big wine, fat in the middle, held taut by the
mineral acidity that keeps it fresh and refreshing. It ends as clean as a premier cru Chablis might, here with the firm, grippy spice of a Spring Mountain white.

Antonio Galloni, Vinous, Oct 2015
90 Points
Keenan’s 2013 Merlot is powerful, intense and structured, especially for an entry-level offering. Leather, smoke, tobacco and anise are all pushed forward in a savory, complex Merlot that offers plenty of nuance as well as personality. Hints of menthol and sage add further notes of complexity. A serious Merlot, the 2013 has enough depth to drink well for a good handful of years.

Robert M. Parker Jr., The Wine Advocate,
Issue #222, Dec 2015

94 Points
As for the 2013 Merlot Reserve Mailbox Vineyard, this is 95% estate Merlot and 5% estate Cabernet Franc. This shows beautiful fruit, medium to full body, more layers of concentration and interest than the basic Merlot. The wine has excellent purity, loads of black cherry and mocha notes, along with darker berry fruit. It’s full-bodied, ripe and pure and at the same time never loses its sense of elegance or equilibrium. Drink it over the next 10-15 years.

Robert M. Parker Jr., The Wine Advocate,
Issue #209, Oct 2013

94 Points
The 2012 Proprietary Red Blend Mernet Reserve, which is a blend of 50% Merlot, 44% Cabernet Sauvignon and 6% Cabernet Franc, may well be Michael Keenan’s favorite wine. Only 500 cases were produced. Chocolaty cassis, graphite, spice box and plum are all present in this sensational blend that should age beautifully for 15-20 years, although most people will have consumed it by year ten. It is remarkable that 2012 is the fourteenth vintage that this proprietary blend has been produced, and it seems like its just yesterday I first tasted it. The color is a handsome, opaque purple. The wine is extremely impressive and still very youthful. Another one or two years of age will round it into more complex shape.

Robert M. Parker Jr., The Wine Advocate,
Issue #215, Oct 2014

90 Points
The 2012 Cabernet Sauvignon Napa has more cassis, tar, camphor and an attractive, fleshy, full-bodied mouthfeel, impressive ripeness and body. This is a solid Cabernet to drink now and over the next 10-15 years.


2014 Chardonnay Spring Mountain District


Keenan’s 2014 Chardonnay was hand harvested, de-stemmed, then gently pressed. The juice was fermented and aged

in primarily used 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 surlie 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. Ideal for your collection of Christmas wines….think turkey, figgy pudding and Christmas cookies.


2013 Merlot Napa Valley
The 2013 Keenan Merlot is composed of seventy two percent Keenan Estate Merlot. Twenty eight 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 ‘13 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. Add this to your collection of Christmas wines!

2013 Syrah Napa Valley


The 2013 Keenan Syrah grapes were grown in the Coombsville and Atlas Peak regions of south eastern Napa. The grapes were picked late in the season, and then whole berry fermented in small half ton boxes. After fermentation the wine was aged in French and American oak barrels for seventeen months.

The nosed of the wine offers aromas of black cherry and blackberry along with underlying floral nuances. The texture is soft, yet the wine maintains wonderful structure. This is a versatile wine that will accompany a wide array of dishes.

2012 Cabernet Sauvignon Napa Valley
The 2012 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. Drink this with your Christmas wines!

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