Napa’s Best Summer Winery Party
Keenan Winery’s annual Open House, held on Saturday before Father’s Day every year for club members and newsletter recipients, is considered by many to be Napa’s best summer party. This slideshow will give you a little “taste” of that wonderful event.
How to Attend Napa’s Best Summer Party
The Keenan Winery Annual Summer Open House is open exclusively to Keenan Wine Club Members, newsletter recipients and their guests. In other words, Napa’s best summer party he Keenan is for wine lovers of all persuasions.
If you’d like to join a Keenan Wine Club, do so now, while there’s still room. Join one club or all three.
- In the Keenan Wine Club, you’ll receive two yearly shipments of four bottles each in April or October with Keenan Cabernet Sauvignon, Keenan Merlot, Keenan Summer Blend, and Keenan Chardonnay.
- At the Keenan Reserve Club, you’ll receive an annual shipment of six bottles in January, consisting of Keenan Mernet Reserve, Keenan Mailbox Merlot Reserve, and Keenan Cabernet Sauvignon Reserve. We range up to two-hundred members total.
- And as for the Keenan Wine Club with Red Wine, you’ll receive two yearly shipments in April or October with a pair of Keenan Cabernet Sauvignon and Keenan Merlot.
Whatever club you join, or if you join all three, you’ll get twenty-percent off all wines and merchandise, two passes to summer open house, and complimentary tasting up to four guests. We apologize, but there are no substitutions. Join two or more clubs and you’ll receive a private barrel tasting for up to six guests! Please contact us at 707.963.9177 or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org to cancel or switch a club.
During the event, participants may freely taste all the newly released Keenan wines, including Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon, Syrah, Zinfandel, Cabernet Franc, Mernet, Chardonnay and Summer Blend. If you’re still unfamiliar with these Keenan Wines, here’s a brief description of each:
- Keenan has purchased Merlot grapes from the Napa Carneros district for many years. The “Carneros” is the southern region of Napa that is closest to the San Pablo Bay and is known for producing high-quality Chardonnay, Pinot Noir, and Merlot. Merlot grown in the Carneros tends to be very fruity and soft with distinctive spicy nuances. Keenan began purchasing Merlot from the Carneros to blend with the estate Merlot grown on Spring Mountain. The two wines are a great match; the Carneros Merlot softens the dense, powerful wines produced from the estate grown fruit. But, in 1999 we were so happy with the quality and distinctiveness of our Carneros Merlot, we decided to bottle a small amount on its own. We continue to bottle a few hundred cases of Carneros Merlot most years. Carneros Merlot shows jammy blackberry and raspberry aromas. Nuances of spice and cocoa emerge as the wine opens. Silky mouth-feel and well-balanced structure allow it to show wonderfully with a variety of well-seasoned dishes.
- The steady, high temperatures of the Keenan estate, on Spring Mountain above the Napa Valley floor, allowed harvest at peak maturity of the grapes. The grapes for Keenan Merlot are harvested primarily from the Keenan Estate on Spring Mountain. It is these grapes that supply the Keenan Merlot with its rich flavor and intense bouquet. The remainder of the Merlot grapes are harvested from select vineyards on the floor of the Napa Valley. The vineyards’ grapes are hand selected to add complexity, and to soften the powerful Keenan Estate fruit. The
- Keenan Merlot is aged in French oak barrels for 18 months. Final blending is con- ducted before bottling, and seven to eight months of bottle aging is allowed before release. Keenan Winery is located in Spring Mountain District, high in the Mayacamas mountain range above the town of Saint Helena. Fifteen 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. Keenan Merlot is generally composed of approximately sixty-five percent Keenan Estate Merlot with the remainder of the fruit harvested from the Napa Carneros region. After hand harvesting, the grapes are de-stemmed, then inoculated with Montrachet yeast. Fermentation ranges from eight to twelve days before pressing. Keenan Merlot is typically 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.
- The 1993 Cabernet Sauvignon begins a new era for Keenan as this is the first vintage with winemaker Nils Venge actively involved in the wine making process. Nils has aided Keenan in softening the big tannins of our mountain grown Cabernet, while retaining our rich character and full body. Our 1993 vintage shows deep raspberry fruit, layered with hints of mint, spice and tobacco; subtle oak flavors make the wine complete. The 1993 Cabernet’s luscious berry fruit and solid tannin structure make this wine very enjoyable now, while still retaining the ability to age well. Our Hillside Estate Cabernet Sauvignon expresses the concentrated flavors and bouquet that are characteristic of our Spring Mountain vineyards. The wine had a minimal amount of “time on the skins”; Keenan has no problem with extraction from the intense mountain fruit. This Cabernet was aged in French oak barrels for 20 months providing a sweet oak background that integrates well with the ripe fruit characters. The wine was bottle aged for an additional 30 months, creating an exquisite balance of tannin and body. Keenan considers this wine to be a fine accompaniment to rich, full flavored meals. The 1993 Cabernet Sauvignon was made to stand up to the boldest grilled meat entrees, but also has the complexity and spicy character to nicely compliment lighter, well-seasoned food.
- 2001 marked the first vintage in which Keenan Winery had ever produced, a “Reserve” Cabernet Sauvignon. The idea behind the Reserve Cabernet was to make a big and powerful Cabernet Sauvignon from the Keenan Estate that would be worthy of aging, yet balanced in terms of both structure and finesse. The 2001 supplied plenty of spectacular Cabernet. It was an early harvest and the grapes ripened to full maturity without difficulty. After hand harvesting, the grapes were de-stemmed, then fermented in stainless steel tanks for six to ten days. The wines were aged in fifty percent new French and American oak barrels for twenty months. Blending trials for the 2001 red wines began in March of 2003. A composite trial blend of five different Cabernet clones from the Estate showed ripe fruit characters, mouth-filling richness and exceptional structure. Consequently, the blend was set aside and designated a reserve lot. The trials continued, and it was decided that fifteen percent Merlot would enhance the Cabernet Sauvignon blend. The finished wine is an immense, full bodied Cabernet Sauvignon. Enjoy this wine with a rich meal, or allow it to slowly evolve over the next twenty years.
- Keenan first produced Syrah in 2001. The nose 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. Keenan Syrah grapes are typically grown in the Coombsville and Atlas Peak regions of south eastern Napa. The grapes are picked late in the season, and then whole berry is fermented in small half ton boxes. After fermentation the wine is aged in French and American oak barrels for seventeen months. Each vintage 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.
- For a number of years consumers and members of the wine trade have urged Keenan to produce a proprietary red blend… So we did. Blending trials began in June of 2001, with separate lots of 1999 Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot; it didn’t take long to decide upon the two lots that fit together. The favored Cabernet Sauvignon was produced from grapes grown in Oakville, and shows immense structure, dark inky hues, and complex, robust flavors. The Merlot was grown in the Napa Carneros region and supplies soft velvety texture with concentrated ripe berry nuances in the nose. This marriage of two varietals is deemed “Mernet” by winery president, Michael Keenan. The name stems from the two facets of the blend — Mer(lot) and (Caber)net, with each wine supplying what the other may have lacked. The finished wine is a beautifully balanced, full-bodied red wine, that will radiate impressive flavors and aromas for many years to come.
- The 1996 Keenan Chardonnay was made from select vineyards located on the floor of the Napa Valley. Keenan continues to barrel ferment and barrel age 100% of the Chardonnay production; one-third of the oak barrels used are new French oak. Approximately one-half of the ‘96 vintage was aged sur-lie for five months; this contributed to the remarkable body and unique character of the wine. Each Chardonnay vineyard that Keenan utilizes puts forth its own distinctive characteristics, and it is the combination of these characteristics that allow Keenan to create a wine of balanced complexity. Our 1996 Chardonnay opens with luscious pear and apple notes that are blended with a nice amount of vanilla and light oak. The crisp, medium bodied character of the wine is accented with hints of pineapple and citrus, and a toasty oak finish lingers pleasantly on the palate. The Chardonnay vineyards on Keenan’s Spring Mountain Estate were replanted in spring of 1995, and as a result Keenan would not harvest Estate Chardonnay again until September of 1999. In the interim, Keenan has contracted Chardonnay from select vineyards on the floor of the Napa Valley. Despite these vineyard changes, this wine continues the Keenan tradition of producing a crisp classic style Chardonnay.
The 1997 growing season allowed the Chardonnay grapes to mature fully, and we were able to harvest the fruit at a perfect balance of sugar and acidity. After pressing, the juice was chilled and allowed to settle before being placed in French oak barrels. Yeast was added to the juice and a barrel fermentation lasting ten days followed. No secondary, or malolactic, fermentation was carried out, leading to the crisp, citrus character of this wine. As always, the Chardonnay was barrel aged in approximately one-third new oak barrels, and one half of the lot was left on its lees and stirred weekly. The wine was aged for nine months before it was bottled. The finished wine shows grapefruit and lemon peel in the nose, yet tropical hints of pineapple are noticed as the wine opens up. The sur-lie aging has added complexity to the ripe pear and crisp apple flavors, and plenty of oak character returns on the finish. Like all of Keenan’s wines, this Chardonnay is a food worthy wine whose crisp acidity and medium body will ac- company a wide variety of well-seasoned dishes.
The 1998 growing season was relatively cool, and grapes were slow to mature. Although harvested later in the season than normal, Keenan was still able to pick Chardonnay at optimum sugar and flavor levels. After pressing, the juice was chilled and allowed to settle before being placed in French oak barrels. Yeast was added to the juice and a barrel fermentation lasting ten days followed. No secondary, or malolactic, fermentation was carried out, leading to the crisp, citrus character of this wine. As always, the Chardonnay was barrel aged in approximately one-third new oak barrels, and one half of the lot was left on its lees and stirred weekly. The wine was aged for nine months before it was bottled.
To jump ahead, in 2005, the growing season supplied plenty of warmth to prompt Chardonnay grapes to ripen to full maturity. The fruit was hand harvested, de-stemmed, then gently pressed. Twenty percent of the juice was fermented and aged in stainless steel tanks, while eighty percent was fermented and aged in French and American oak barrels. No secondary, or malolactic fermentation was carried out, leading to the crisp, citrus character of this wine. The portion of Chardonnay aged in barrel was left on its lees and stirred weekly. The wine was bottled after approximately eight months of aging in the cellar. Keenan’s 2015 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.
Food at Napa’s Best Summer Party
The menu may vary year to year, but rest assured the fare will be mouth-watering, perfect for summer and pairing with Keenan wine. It often includes: lamb chops on the bone, sliders, beans, ceviche, oysters on the half-shell, charcutterie and an assortment of delectable desserts such as homemade brownies and cookies.
The view at Napa’s Best Summer Winery Party
You bet Keenan Winery has an awesome view overlooking the lower Chardonnay and Mailbox Merlot vineyards. Points of interest include the rolling line of solar panels at the end of each row of vines and the reservoir. They appear as small panels, tilted at an angle. However, if one were to walk to the end of the row to get near the solar panels, it is quite surprising to discover each panel is a whopping 10’ across and suspended high above one’s head. The reservoir water levels dramatically reflect the year’s rainfall and would be the only water used to irrigate the vines outside of natural rainfall. In other words, the vineyards are “dry farmed,” using only naturally occurring rainfall for irrigation. Finally, far across the Napa Valley which fills the view beyond the vineyards, are the beautiful Palisades Mountains. There one can take a breathtaking hike from Mount Saint Helena, also in view, to the Oat Hill Mine Trail—a challenging 12-mile hike which requires sturdy boots and ample water supply.
The live music at the Keenan Winery Annual Summer Open House is upbeat and fun, with out being overbearing. It allows participants to enjoy the festive atmosphere while still being able to chat freely and enjoy the delicious food and wine. A win/win in our book.
Where is Keenan Winery located?
The Keenan estate is located on the beautiful Mayacamas Mountain Range, in the Spring Mountain District, just above the charming town of St. Helena, in beautiful Napa Valley Ca. The winery is not far from Calistoga and the town of Napa as well. Here’s a little bit more about each of these regions:
- Mayacamas Mountain Range: The Mayacamas Mountains are located south of the Mendocino Range, west of Clear Lake, and east of Ukiah in Mendocino and Lake Counties, and extended south into Napa and Sonoma Counties. The range stretches for fifty-two miles (eighty kilometers) in a northwest-southeasterly direction.
- Spring Mountain District A.V.A.: Spring Mountain District A.V.A. is located above Napa Valley, on the eastern slope of the Mayacamas Mountains that separate Napa Valley from Sonoma Valley.
- St. Helena: Saint Helena is a volcanic tropical island in the South Atlantic Ocean, four-thousand kilometers (twenty-five hundred miles) east of Rio de Janeiro. LOL. But, it is also a gorgeous little village in the northern part of Napa Valley, CA. In St. Helena, you will find top rated restaurants, cute shopping boutiques, and all the charm you ever wanted in a wine tasting town. Best of all, Keenan Winery is just a short drive away.
- Napa: The world famous wine region of Napa Valley is located just an hour’s drive north of San Francisco, California. It is known for producing not only the best wines in the United States, but also some of the best wines in the world. Here you will find hundreds of hillside vineyards and a truly picturesque wine region. In the city of Napa, there are numerous tourist attractions as well as delightful Oxbow Public Market featuring reknowned, regional gourmet food. The Napa Valley Wine Train is a vintage locomotive and traveling restaurant running through the valley is very popular with visitors. We recommend you drive to the northern end of Napa for the most charming spots (case in point: Yountville, a town known for high-end restaurants and provincial style), best photogenic scenery and the mouth watering wines of Keenan.
- Calistoga: Calistoga is a small city located in Napa Valley. It is known for hot springs, mud baths, and wineries, including one set in Castello di Amorosa, a medieval-style castle. The Old Faithful Geyser of California erupts at regular intervals. Works by Italian artist Carlo Marchiori are displayed at the Ca’toga Galleria D’Arte, in town. To the southeast, Bale Grist Mill State Historic Park has an 1846 mill.
It’s a wrap!
In summary, the Keenan Open House is known by many as Napa’s best summer party, not to be missed. Come enjoy great wines, barrel tasting, great grilled food, nice music and great people. Connect with old friends and make new ones, while enjoying the stunning views.