News Archive

Subscribe to our mailing list

* indicates required
We will never buy, sell or give away your email address.

Subscribe to our mailing list

* indicates required

Newsletter

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 to 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!

Michael

2016 WINTER / SPRING

2016 Growing Season and Harvest

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!

Matt Gardner

FEATURED RELEASE

mernet17

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.

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.

LET’S PLAY A GAME! YOU MAY WIN A VINEYARD TOUR.

S U M M E R O P E N H O U S ESATURDAY, JUNE 17th11 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.

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.

RSVP


 

PRESS RELEASE

2014 CHARDONNAY, SPRING MOUNTAIN DISTRICT
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.

2013 MERLOT, NAPA VALLEY
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.

2013 MERLOT RESERVE, NAPA VALLEY
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.

2012 MERNET RESERVE, SPRING MOUNTAIN DISTRICT
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.

2012 CABERNET SAUVIGNON, NAPA VALLEY
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.

CURRENT RELEASES

2014 Chardonnay Spring Mountain District

$34/bottle
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.

2013 Merlot Napa Valley
$40/bottle
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.

2013 Syrah Napa Valley
$38/bottle
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
$52/bottle
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.

FROM THE PRESIDENT: 2016 Spring / Summer

From the President’s Desk…
In two weeks we will have our Open House and for the first time the wine that I will pour from barrel will be a finished wine, the 2014 Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon. In past years we have offered wines that we blended just for the Open House but this year I wanted to do a ‘True Premiere’ of a finished product because I think this wine is so outstanding that I want to give as much focus to this wine as possible to our best customers.

In the theme of ‘Never Seen That Before’ (like the cover shot of seeing the moon in the Northern sky!) during the early stages of fermentation of the estate 2014 Cabernet Sauvignons I saw layers of subtle descriptive flavors in the midst of the powerful overall mountain structure that I had quite simply never seen before. The 2014 Cabernet Sauvignon harvest was from vineyards that were 16 and 17 years old. To see new subtle flavor layers at that mature age blew my mind. I was under the impression that after the age of 8 all the inherent traits of a vineyard had appeared. The Mailbox vineyard showed its distinctive and unique terroir stamp in its seventh leaf. The 337 Cabernet Sauvignon Clone showed a new sweet cherry streak and a finer tannin profile in its 8th leaf. All the other estate blocks showed all their cards by the 6th leaf if not sooner.

Seeing something new (and outstanding!) at the advanced age of 16 and 17 truly amazed me. I commented to the team as we tasted the fermenting 2014’s on the crush-pad that I truly felt like a pioneer. No one has ever farmed this land like we have, we are quite literally seeing things that no one else has ever seen and I think that is very exciting.

Those who attend this years’ Open House will get the first glimpse of this remarkable vintage and will hopefully say,” I’ve never tasted that before”.

Cheers to the future!
Michael Keenan
 

2016 Spring/ Summer
Ample winter rains and warm May days have 2016 off to a great start. We’re seeing lots of clusters on the vines and hope that the upcoming summer months will promote even development and ripening.December of 2015 brought some quenching rains to the Napa Valley and moisture continued to accumulate in January. The rumored El Nino rainstorms weren’t following through though. February was the month that the meteorologists said would be the soaker, but the tally for the entire month of February was only 2.05 inches… Pretty sad. Average rainfall for a season on Spring Mountain is over 55 inches. At the end of February we had measured less than 30 inches and only had 2 months to make up the difference.

Fortunately March brought in a number of wet storms and April helped to top things off. We even received a few nice rain showers in May amidst the warm days. The rainfall total for the 2015/2016 season now stands at just over 48 inches. We certainly could have used more, but a good amount of the precipitation came later in the season, which should help offset the lower total. As it stands the soil profile is still full of available moisture and the vines seem to be appreciating this immensely.

Along with happy vines come thick leaf canopies though. The combination of foggy mornings, warm spring afternoons and bushy canopies has us watching the vineyards closely, looking for any signs of powdery mildew. Powdery mildew is caused by a fungus that infects grapevine leaves, shoots and clusters. Clusters infected by the fungus will have slowed ripening and eventually the berries can split open and spoil. So far so good on the mildew front.

We still have a long way to go before harvest, but thanks to some great weather, the 2016 vintage already looks very promising. Hope to see many of you at the Open House on June 18th!

Cheers,
Matt Gardner
 

FEATURED RELEASE

mernet172012 Mernet Reserve, Spring Mtn. Dist.
$96/bottle

2012 is our 14th consecutive vin- tage of “Mernet” (mare-nay) our proprietary marriage of Merlot and Cabernet. Each blend has been half Merlot and half Cabernet but no two wines have had the same vineyard combinations. This year the blend is 50% Merlot all coming from the “Mailbox” vineyard. The Cabernet half this year is 44% Cabernet Sauvignon Clone 15 from the “Big K” vineyard and 6% Cabernet Franc from the “Upper Bowl” vine- yard. The resulting wine is a seam- less blend of the three varietals with an emphasis on high-toned sweet delicious rich fruit with an almost hidden depth and structure. Enjoy now or decades from now.

Cheers!
Michael Keenan


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

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.”

 

Print the Keenan Spring – Summer Newsletter

 

S U M M E R O P E N H O U S E

SATURDAY, JUNE 18

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.

DON’T MISS ROBERT KEENAN WINERY’S 2016 Summer Open House, beginning at 11 am on Saturday, June 18.

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.

RSVP
Phone: 707-963-9177
Email: info@keenanwinery.com
Faxing : 707-963-8209

 

PRESS RELEASE

CHARDONNAY, SPRING MOUNTAIN DISTRICT
Wine & Spirits Magazine April 2015
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.”

2012 KEENAN MERLOT, NAPA VALLEY
Wine & Spirits Magazine, June 2015
91 Points: “Good merlot can often seem workmanlike, this one satisfied to hit fragrant notes of ripe cherries with clarity. It’s not pushed, and though there’s plenty of oak present in the tannins, it frames the fruit well”

2012 CABERNET FRANC, SPRING MOUNTAIN DISTRICT
Robert M. Parker Jr., The Wine Advocate, Issue #215, 10/2014
90 Points: “The 2012 Cabernet Franc Spring Mountain has good freshness and acidity, ripe aspberry and blackcurrant fruit, lovely texture and good vibrant acids. Only 480 cases were produced and the wine emerges from a relatively high elevation of their high-elevation estate vineyard (about 2,000 feet). Drink over the next 5-7 years.”

2012 CABERNET SAUVIGNON, NAPA VALLEY
Robert M. Parker Jr., The Wine Advocate, Issue #209, 10/2013
96 Points: “The 2012 Cabernet Sauvignon Reserve from the estate in Spring Mountain Vineyards is the thirty-sixth vintage for the Robert Keenan Winery. This wine has 7% Cabernet Franc added into the blend and 700 cases were produced. A blockbuster wine for sure, with an inky/purple color, sweet crème de cassis, graphite, chocolate a hint of charcoal and burning embers – almost as if it wanted to behave like a Graves from Bordeaux. This is full-bodied, very rich, powerful and still moderately tannic. It’s a baby for sure, but what an impressive one. This wine needs a good 3-4 years of bottle age and should keep well for 25-30 years at the minimum”

Antonio Galloni, Vinous, November 2013
92 Points: “The 2011 Cabernet Sauvignon is beautiful. Dark red cherries, tobacco, mint and graphite are some of the many notes that inform this hugely attractive, medium-bodied Cabernet Sauvignon. The finish is long, silky and exceptionally polished. Tobacco, dried cherries, mint and smoke add nuance on the close. This is another relatively soft, gorgeous 2011 from Keenan.”

Wine Spirit Magazine April-2016
92 Points: “Michael Keenan believes there are two sides of cabernet, one fruity, one savory and herbal. He works to balance the two in the grapes from his Spring Mountain vineyards, consistently growing one of the greatest Napa Valley cabernets in his Reserve. The 2012 contrasts herbal notes of sage and forest floor with bright fruit that energizes the wine. That plump fruit creates a compelling texture against the stone-hard tannins, matching their austerity with silken grace. In the end, the flavors have the blackness of a well, mossy, stony, cool and deep. Compelling now, this is a wine that will benefit from a decade in the cellar.”
 

CURRENT RELEASES

2013 Chardonnay Spring Mountain District
$34/bottle
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 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 food fare.

2012 Zinfandel Napa Valley
$38/bottle
Keenan’s 2012 Zinfandel is made up of grapes grown in Calistoga and on Keenan’s Spring Mountain District estate. The Zinfandel grown in Calistoga supplies spice and briary red fruit aromas, while the Estate Zinfandel imparts structure, ripe black fruit and complex earthy nuances. 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 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.

2012 Merlot Napa Valley
$39/bottle
The 2012 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 destemmed, then inoculated with Montrachet yeast. Fermentation ranged from ten to fourteen days. The ‘12 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.

2012 Cabernet Sauvignon Napa Valley
$50/bottle
The 2011 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.


FROM THE PRESIDENT: The Secret Issue

From the President’s Desk…

THE SECRET WHAT?

In August of 2006 I came up with a new wine (I literally dreamed it up) for the Premiere Auction, which takes place in Napa every February. Then a month later thought I had a brilliant outside the box idea to promote it. Every October I’d meet with a very famous wine critic who would review the vintage we had just bottled and two barrel samples of the vintage still in barrel. His review would come out at Christmas, in time to generate some buzz for the February auction. Well for the first time this wonderfully talented assessor of wines’ true virtues didn’t rate our barrel sample, great plan shot down. Nonetheless at the Auction that year the wine, on its’ own merits, generated a great buzz throughout the room and we ended up getting a record price and made some great new friends from Arkansas.


Coming home after the auction I then had the idea to make this wine as a ‘secret’ wine. A wine that would be at the top of our Bordeaux portfolio but would never be rated by any wine critic and never be shown in public. If a restaurant bought it they couldn’t print it on their list and if a retailer bought it they couldn’t put it on their shelves or advertize it on their website or anywhere in public. It would be a total back room ‘secret’ wine!

I remember the first time I told Reilly, our son, about the ‘secret’ wine, he thought I had lost my mind. He’s slowly coming around on that topic. Now there are 5 wines in the ‘secret’ portfolio and it’s time to start the ‘secret’ club! These are all small production wines ranging from 100 cases to as low as 50 for the latest edition, a single vineyard Merlot from the 2013 vintage, which btw, is the greatest Merlot vintage I have ever seen. Some of the wines are from the ’06 and ’07 vintages, so we are able to age these even more than our current releases.Some of these wines are one of a kind, meaning I will not ever make them again.

I don’t know when we will launch the ‘secret’ club , or any of the details right now; even if I did I would only divulge the details to the members who have signed up! I don’t even know if there will be a shipment every year, there might not be enough wine. Membership will no doubt be extremely limited so if this vague club suits your fancy I suggest you sign up now!

Cheers to the future!

Michael Keenan


Vineyard Notes…

Another harvest is complete and the 2015 vintage is aging in the cellar. An early start date and light yields were the main attributes for the 2015 harvest. The light yields have led to super concentrated wines; there just won’t be much of it.

Winter of 2015 was mild and rainfall was light. Unfortunately some of the little bits of rain that we did receive came while the young grape clusters were blooming. Moist conditions along with some windy days provided less than ideal conditions for the tiny grape flowers to pollinate and set properly, especially on the Cabernet Sauvignon vines. Once harvest wrapped up, the final tally revealed that Cabernet Sauvignon yields were down forty percent from average.

Harvest began with our Chardonnay Dijon block on August 28th, roughly two weeks earlier than average. Chardonnay yields were down slightly from average, but the wine maintains great natural acidity and wonderful richness. Most years our Chardonnay requires a slight amount of acid added to the juice, but the ’15 had perfect acidity.The Point block Zinfandel and Cabernet Sauvignon were picked next, and then harvest moved on to the Merlot in the Lower Bowl. Again yields were light, but we began to notice remarkable concentration in the freshly fermented wines. The Cabernet Sauvignon blocks were picked quickly over the last few days of September.

Cabernet Franc from our Upper Bowl vineyard was picked on October first, and harvest was complete. This marked one of earliest finishes to harves in 20 years!

Although yields were light on all varieties, intensity and concentration are exceptional. A pleasing balance of tannin, acidity, flavor and aroma are notable in the 2015 red wines, while the Chardonnay is now showing wonderful aromatics and luscious, crisp flavors. Look forward to tasting the 2015’s!

Matt Gardner

Print the Keenan Winter Newsletter

FEATURED RELEASE

keenan2012_merlot_reserve_xmas_sm

2012 Merlot Reserve, Mailbox Vinyard, Spring Mtn. Dist.$68/bottle

2012 marks the 10th consecutive year our Mailbox Vineyard has been selected as the source for the Keenan Reserve Merlot bottling. Situated on steeply terraced rows directly beneath the winery, the three-acre block produces exceptionally rich, deeply flavored fruit. 100% Merlot, the resulting wine offers hints of violets and the Mailbox Vineyard’s signature earthy spiciness in the nose. A chocolaty creaminess combines with the rich dark full fruit on the palate, and the finish is beautifully layered, deep, elegant, and extremely long. Truly long-lived, this wine can be enjoyed today or cellared to enjoy decades from now.

Cheers!
Michael Keenan


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

94 Points: “This is a relatively limited production cuvée of 400 cases and is always one of Napa’s finest Merlots. Beautiful mocha, white chocolate, jammy black cherry and blackcurrant notes as well as forest floor nuances, are all present in this full-bodied opulent, terrific example of Merlot. This is Merlot at its most complex and this is certainly one of the top examples of this varietal in Northern California. Moreover, despite its accessibility, this wine should drink well for 15 or more years.”

Order Wine OnlinePrintable Order Form

 

ss15_9

S U M M E R   O P E N   H O U S E

SATURDAY, JUNE 18

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.

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.

RSVP

 

PRESS RELEASES

2013 CHARDONNAY, SPRING MOUNTAIN DISTRICT

Wine & Spirits Magazine April 2015

92 Points: “Barrel fermented without having gone through malolactic conversion, this is a firm, completely savory chardonnay, gaining its viscosity from the richness of alcohol. The oak feels integrated, driving starfruit flavors toward earthier tones of bitter almond. A full-bodied white for a veal chop”

2012 KEENAN MERLOT, NAPA VALLEY

Wine & Spirits Magazine, June 2015

91 Points: “Good merlot can often seem workmanlike, this one satisfied to hit fragrant notes of ripe cherries with clarity. It’s not pushed, and though there’s plenty of oak present in the tannins, it frames the fruit well.”

2012 CABERNET FRANC, SPRING MOUNTAIN DISTRICT

Robert M. Parker Jr., The Wine Advocate, Issue #215, 10/2014

90 Points: “The 2012 Cabernet Franc Spring Mountain has good freshness and acidity, ripe aspberry and blackcurrant fruit, lovely texture and good vibrant acids. Only 480 cases were produced and the wine emerges from a relatively high elevation of their high-elevation estate vineyard (about 2,000 feet). Drink over the next 5-7 years.”

2011 CABERNET SAUVIGNON, NAPA VALLEY

Robert M. Parker Jr., The Wine Advocate, Issue #209, 10/2013

90 Points: “The 2011 Cabernet Sauvignon Napa is a blend of 93% Cabernet Sauvignon and 7% Merlot. Surprisingly rich, ripe and heady with lots of black currant and black cherry fruit, no hint of herbaceousness or earthiness and medium to full body, this delicate, finesse-styled Cabernet is a noteworthy success in 2011. Given its fast evolutionary track, it should be consumed over the next 7-8 years.”

Antonio Galloni, Vinous, November 2013

92 Points: “The 2011 Cabernet Sauvignon is beautiful. Dark red cherries, tobacco, mint and graphite are some of the many notes that inform this hugely attractive, medium-bodied Cabernet Sauvignon. The finish is long, silky and exceptionally polished. Tobacco, dried cherries, mint and smoke add nuance on the close. This is another relatively soft, gorgeous 2011 from Keenan.”

2011 KEENAN MERNET, RESERVE, SPRING MOUNTAIN DISTRICT

Robert M. Parker Jr., The Wine Advocate, Issue #209, 10/2013

“The 2011 Mernet Reserve is an equal part blend of Estate Merlot and Estate Cabernet Sauvignon. The dark plum/ruby/purple color is accompanied by aromas of espresso, black currants, licorice and underbrush. In the mouth, it is medium-bodied, but more monolithic, playing it closer to the vest than the 2010… Drink it over the next 8-10 years.”

 

CURRENT RELEASES

2013 Chardonnay Spring Mountain District
$34/bottle
Keenan’s 2013 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 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 food fare.

2012 Zinfandel Napa Valley
$38/bottle
Keenan’s 2012 Zinfandel is made up of grapes grown in Calistoga and on Keenan’s Spring Mountain District estate. The Zinfandel grown in Calistoga supplies spice and briary red fruit aromas, while the Estate Zinfandel imparts structure, ripe black fruit and complex earthy nuances. 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 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.

2012 Merlot Napa Valley
$39/bottle
The 2012 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 destemmed, then inoculated with Montrachet yeast. Fermentation ranged from ten to fourteen days. The ‘12 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.

2011 Cabernet Sauvignon Napa Valley
$50/bottle
The 2011 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..


Order Wine OnlinePrintable Order Form

You found our secret Keenan wine!

 

Print the Keenan Winter Newsletter

 

Cheers to the future!

–Michael Keenan

FROM THE PRESIDENT: Serial Remodeler?

From the President’s Desk…

SERIAL REMODELER?

The big remodel is actually completed and we are all very excited to host everyone at the annual open house on Fathers Day weekend. We all love being in the new space and take great pride in showing it off.

The winery is actually the 4th major remodeling/reconstruction project we have done in the last 10 years. 5 if we count the kitchen remodel/new roof/ exterior and interior paint job and new deck on the Point House where Matt and his family live. That kind of sounds major now that I have listed its scope.

8 years ago the barn had the distinction of being the oldest (and most useless!) building on the property. An old wooden structure that was admittedly charming to view but hazardous to enter. So we tore that ol’ gal down and built a new (can’t recall if we had a permit??) state of the art barrel storage facility. How did we ever live without it?

Next up was the White House where Randy, Laura and their kids lived for years. One day it simply expired so we tore it down and built a beautiful 2 story 2600 hundred square foot four-bedroom house in 5 months! Another Sandy Walker Design no less.

Next was the 1930s original chicken coop that was turned into a 2 bedroom 70s style dark house in 1978. We tore most of it down, opened it up, went from two bedrooms to one (“Where will we sleep?” the children asked.) and built a massive deck overlooking the Chardonnay vineyard (“On the deck,” I responded!). Well done Sandy and Jennifer again.

Only one decrepit yet oh so charming vintage building remains unchanged in the inner campus: The Love Shack! AKA the former guesthouse. The Serial Remodeler in me is dying to tear it down and put up another Sandy/Jennifer work of art. But what to do, will it be a guesthouse, a family house, my personal office? The Committee has not turned in a verdict yet. Perhaps the committee will convene the night of the Open House when we will be all together again…

Cheers to the future!

Michael Keenan


Vineyard Notes…

Another growing season is here and as usual Mother Nature is keeping us on our toes. Mild winter temps and fluctuating month to month rainfall totals make me wonder what the summer has in store.

The rainy season started out promising, with light to moderate rainfall in October and November. Then December came and the weather services warned of record breaking storms. It rained for close to four weeks straight, and by the end of December the season total was over twenty-four inches of rain. The reservoir was full and there was hope that the years of state-wide drought were finally coming to an end.

January made us rethink things. A measly fifteen hundredths filled the rain gauge during what is supposed to be one of our highest rainfall winter months.

January also presented daytime highs that were more fitting for April and May, not the dead of winter. The rain drenched soils started to dry out, and we began thinking rain dances might be in order.

February helped out with moderate rainfall, yet higher than average temperatures. March was dry, but April storms supplied some great late season precipitation. The month of May was dry except for a midmonth cold front that blew through the Napa Valley and threatened to drop rain during our Chardonnay bottling. Total measureable rainfall by the end of May was a little over thirty-three inches (our average total is fifty-five inches).

Keenan’s estate vineyards seem to be prospering in spite of lower rainfall totals. Grapevines do like to struggle and without a little stress from the environment, the wines we produce would be totally changed. The mild winter temps have accelerated vine growth though, and we estimate most vineyard blocks are roughly two weeks ahead of average.

Who knows what will happen next. It appears harvest will have a record breaking early start date, but it’s June 10th and we woke up to cloudy skies and rain. As the rain keeps falling I wonder what June and beyond will bring.

Matt Gardner

FEATURED RELEASE

2011 Mernet Reserve Spring Mountain District

$96/bottle

2011 is our 13th consecutive vintage of “Mernet” (mare-nay) our proprietary marriage of Merlot and Cabernet. Each blend has been half Merlot and half Cabernet but no two wines have had the same vineyard combinations. This year the blend is 50% Merlot, all coming from the “Mailbox” Vineyard. The Cabernet half this year is 25% Cabernet Sauvignon Clone 337 fromvthe “Big K” vineyard and 25% Cabernet Sauvignon Clone 7 from the “Upper Bowl” vineyard.

The resulting wine is a seamless blend of the two varietals with an emphasis on high-toned sweet delicious rich fruit with an almost hidden depth and structure. Enjoy now or decades from now.

Cheers!
Michael Keenan


Robert M. Parker Jr., The Wine Advocate, Issue #209, October 2013 The 2011 Mernet Reserve is an equal part blend of Estate Merlot and Estate Cabernet Sauvignon. The dark plum/ruby/purple color is accompanied by aromas of espresso, black currants, licorice and underbrush. In the mouth, it is medium-bodied, but more monolithic, playing it closer to the vest than the 2010… Drink it over the next 8-10 years.

ss15_9

S U M M E R  O P E N  H O U S E

SATURDAY, JUNE 20

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.

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 16th. Please note: we will be capping attendance this year at 350 guests.

RSVP

ss15_10

2013 CHARDONNAY, SPRING MOUNTAIN DISTRICT

Wine & Spirits Magazine April 2015

92 Points: “Barrel fermented without having gone through malolactic conversion, this is a firm, completely savory chardonnay, gaining its viscosity from the richness of alcohol. The oak feels integrated, driving starfruit flavors toward earthier tones of bitter almond. A full-bodied white for a veal chop”

2011 CABERNET SAUVIGNON, NAPA VALLEY

Robert M. Parker Jr., The Wine Advocate, Issue #209, 10/2013

90 Points: “The 2011 Cabernet Sauvignon Napa is a blend of 93% Cabernet Sauvignon and 7% Merlot. Surprisingly rich, ripe and heady with lots of black currant and black cherry fruit, no hint of herbaceousness or earthiness and medium to full body, this delicate, finesse-styled Cabernet is a noteworthy

success in 2011. Given its fast evolutionary track, it should be consumed over the next 7-8 years.”

Antonio Galloni, Vinous, November 2013

92 Points: “The 2011 Cabernet Sauvignon is beautiful. Dark red cherries, tobacco, mint and graphite are some of the many notes that inform this hugely attractive, medium-bodied Cabernet Sauvignon. The finish is long, silky and exceptionally polished. Tobacco, dried cherries, mint and smokevadd nuance on the close. This is another relatively soft, gorgeous 2011vfrom Keenan.”

2011 CABERNET SAUVIGNON, RESERVE, SPRING MOUNTAIN DISTRICT

Antonio Galloni, Vinous, November 2013

94 Points: “Dark cherry, plum, spice, mocha, tobacco, new leather and licorice notes emerge from the 2011 Cabernet Sauvignon Reserve. Here it is the wine’s depth and creaminess allied to a classic sense of structure that impresses. The 2011 should drink well relatively early, but there is also enough depthvto support another 10-15 years beyond that, perhaps longer. The 2011 Reserve isn’t an obvious wine, but it sure is beautiful.”

Wine Spirits Magazine, June 2015

94 Points: “A finely tailored mountain wine, this proves the quality that could be achieved above the fog in 2011. It has the cool feel of the forest on Spring Mountain, the wine’s freshness portrayed in scents of violets, red apple skin, cedar and humus. Savory rather than directly fruity, this emphasizes the power and grace of its tannins, their cool briskness of crushed rock leaving the mouth feeling refreshed. It may be rich, but the flavors remain precise.”

2011 MERLOT RESERVE, MAILBOX VINEYARD, SPRING MOUNTAIN DISTRICT

Robert M. Parker Jr., The Wine Advocate, Issue #209, 10/2013

“The limited production 2011 Merlot Reserve Mailbox Vineyard exhibits more coffee and sweet cherry fruit notes as well as more fat and flesh,…charming, fruit-forward wine that is pure seduction. Drink it over the next 5-6 years.”


2013 Chardonnay Spring Mountain District$34/bottleKeenan’s 2013Chardonnay was hand harvestedl, 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 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 awide variety of food fare.

2014 Napa Valley Summer Blend

$25/bottle

Keenan’s Summer Blend is a white wine composed primarily of Chardonnay. As with past vintages a portion of Viognier has been added to our Chardonnay. Viognier is a light-bodied Rhone varietal that has an intense, fruity bouquet showing ripe melon, peaches and floral aromas. In addition the 2014 Summer Blend contains a small amount of Albarino, a white grape that began being cultivated in the US in the mid 90’s. The Albarino and Viognier supply an array of fruit characters to the nose of the finished blend, while the Chardonnay supplies structure and additional aromatics. The lighter body of the blend prompts us to add “Summer Blend” to the label. This is a great wine to enjoy on a warm summer evening. Aromas of ripe peach, lemon zest, and pineapple augment the concentrated floral nuances. This is a medium bodied wine with crisp acidity and mouth filling flavors. Just a hint of toasty oak shows up on the finish.

2011 Zinfandel Napa Valley

$38/bottle

Keenan’s 2011 Zinfandel is made up of grapes grown in Calistoga and on Keenan’s Spring Mountain District estate. The Zinfandel grown in Calistoga supplies spice and briary red fruit aromas, while the Estate Zinfandel imparts structure, ripe black fruit and complex earthy nuances. 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 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.

2011 Cabernet Sauvignon Napa Valley

$50/bottle

The 2011 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 midpalate.


Order Wine OnlinePrintable Order Form

Print the Keenan Spring – Summer Newsletter

Cheers to the future!

–Michael Keenan

FROM THE PRESIDENT: I Can Almost Taste It

From the President’s Desk

Fall-Winter 2014-15

 

michael_sniffingAs much as we all have enjoyed our temporary headquarters in the building formerly known as ‘The Love Shack,’ we are all very anxious to move into our fabulous newly renovated building. The design that my father in law, Sandy Walker, has done is truly a work of art. And to compliment his wizardry, his daughter, my lovely bride Jennifer, has spun her artistry outside and in to create a wondrous space that has truly exceeded my vision and expectations of what this project would end up feeling like.

The dates on the cover of the newsletter correspond to the three different phases of construction that our building has gone thru. 1904 being the year that the Conradi’s built the original building. We have no idea what the roof and upstairs looked like but the cellar remains pretty much the same.

Phase two took place in 1977. All that remained from phase 1 were the four stone walls of the very well constructed cellar. Most of you reading this are familiar with what phase 2 looked like, a windowless (except for the office) loft open to the cellar below. Charming as it was as we were demolishing it for phase 3 I couldn’t help but think on more than one occasion why on earth did they do that! Two separate levels. Why? The kitchen (I’m sorry, employee break room!) doubling as a very narrow hallway between the tasting room and the bathroom. Why? No obvious entrance. I can’t tell you how many times I have been asked by new arrivals who pull up while I am on the deck grilling lunch, ‘which way is the front?’ I doubt I will ever be asked that again.

I’m sure my father sweated over every aspect of that project as I have this go around. And at times I felt strangely emotional about undoing all of his efforts. I do know one thing, he did his project alone, He was in between marriages and had no partner to help with all the decision making that goes into creating a wonderful environment. I have been far more fortunate, I cannot imagine having had to do this project without not only the support of my wife Jennifer but her considerable talents as well. Thank you my love.

Alas there is one more small chapter to write before phase 3 is complete and that is coming to terms with the seemingly ever changing ADA requirements that the county keeps coming up with.

So close, so close…

Cheers to the future!
–Michael Keenan
The Rose

FROM THE PRESIDENT: Remodel – Getting the Band Back Together

Spring-Summer 2014

The most satisfying job of my contracting career was the 2nd (and final!) remodel on our house in Oakland in 1997. First off because I realized I would be able to enjoy the results of this project for years with my family by being able to live in it as opposed to the usual handing it over to clients upon completion.

And secondly because it was the best creative team of owner (essentially my wife, Jennifer) and architect (my father in law, Sandy Walker) that I had ever had the pleasure to work with.

Every building project was a triangular team of owner, contractor and architect and sometimes they didn’t all get along. Quite often the client was the weak link, becoming overwhelmed by a project that they had no prior experience of thus often rendering them poor and untimely decision makers. No such problem with the “Dream” team of Jennifer and Sandy.

Now we are back at it with the long awaited remodel of the upstairs of the winery. Yes we have a permit! And we are well underway to shaping the upstairs into a very special place that we will be able to enjoy and share with our family, friends, and guests for decades to come.

Cheers to the future!

–Michael Keenan

FROM THE PRESIDENT: Lucky #13

Fall-winter 2013-14

2013 has indeed turned out to be a lucky year . We got very lucky with the summer and fall weather . After the driest and quite possibly the warmest winter and spring any of us can remember we got blessed by a mild summer and harvest period allowing us to bring a good sized crop to perfect ,stress free maturity . We had very
little water retained in our irrigation pond so a hot summer and harvest period would have been disastrous .

We are now in our 13th month of the building permit application process to remodel our tasting room (have you noticed I have less hair?) .But now after crossing every ʻTʼ and dotting every ʻI ʼ that the County has thrown at us ( new well, new septic system, new road enhancement plan) we WILL be getting our permit this month.

My daughter graduated from college this year and the number 13 goes very deep with them, very lucky number.

My son accompanied me to a trade tasting in August (the 13th!) and practically got hired on the spot to work at a very cool wine bar called Enoon Geary St . right off of Union square. Of course they now serve Keenan Merlot there like itʼs going out of style! The grilled cheesesandwich ( they use a French word) is not to be missed.

My wife and I are off to Las Vegas next week to celebrate our 26th Anniversary (thatʼs 2×13! And yes I am doubly lucky!) .

And last but not least I had a hole in one this year. On what hole you ask ? Why on #13 at the Claremont Country Club, a hole aptly named ʻDevilʼ! Thatʼs just dumb luck .

Holiday Cheers to a lucky year!!

–Michael Keenan

FROM THE PRESIDENT: Never Seen That Before

Spring-Summer 2013

“Never seen that before” is becoming an increasingly common part of our lexicon at the winery in the last couple of years. In 2008 we had a freak frost in April that drastically reduced our Cabernet Sauvignon yields; never seen that before in 36 years of grape growing on Spring Mountain.

In 2009 we had a two and a half inch rain event on 10/12 that was the biggest October rainfall since 1962 that postponed the Giants-Yankees World Series for a week. I was 4 then and not tracking the Giants like I am now so this also counts as “Never seen that before”.

2010 saw the “Summer that never was” capped by a six and a half inch rain event that occurred 10/22-24 with half the crop still hanging on the vines. This led to our latest harvest in our history, never seen that before.

2011 was marked by the “Spring from Hell” which reduced yields in all varietals except Cabernet Sauvignon which bloomed so late it managed to miss both rain events in June. Another cooler than average summer led to another record-breaking date for the finish of harvest, November 2nd.

This year has been the driest year in our history from January to now. It has also been the fastest we have ever seen the vines go from bud break to flowering. I leave for a week and cannot believe how much new growth I see when I get back.

My favorite item by far though on the list of “Never seen that before” is seeing our daughter Maddy graduate from Colgate University cum laude this May. Sheʼll be in the tasting room this summer on the weekends helping Laura attend to our guests and I encourage you all to visit and say hi to the newly minted college grad. She came back home yesterday after her first day and I was amazed how many ideas she had to improve the place!

Holiday Cheers,

Cheers to next generation!

–Michael Keenan

FROM THE PRESIDENT: Wine Shortage Part 2?

Fall-Winterer 2012-13

For the first time in the history of this newsletter (14 years) there will be no current release Reserve or Napa Cabernet Sauvignon on the order form, ditto for the Chardonnay. The 2011 Chardonnay will be officially released in March of next year and the two Cabernets in April (if you come to the winery before March Laura might pour you a sample!). In addition three of the ʼ09 reds that we just released this fall, Cab Franc, Carneros Merlot, and Zinfandel are already in very short supply. The Cab Franc might not even make it till Christmas.

So to fill out the order form for this newsletter I thought we would include four wines from the
library, the ʼ97 Napa Valley Merlot, ʼ04 Napa Cabernet Sauvignon, ʼ05 Napa Merlot, and ʼ05 Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon. I cannot emphasize enough how important aging is to the enjoyment of fine wine. We hold our wines back before release a little longer than the norm but that being said they are still just beginning their drinkable period.

Two of my drinking highlights this year were library wines. In September I did a dinner at the Meadow Club in Marin. The first wine served during walk around appetizers was the 2010 Chardonnay, delicious, made a great first impression. Then for the first seated course we had the 2005 Chardonnay with angel hair pasta with scallops in a light saffron cream sauce. The first smell and taste of the ʼ05 registered as quite different than the 2010. The ʼ05 was darker, earthier, a little nuttier, more complex, and a little dare I say ʻBurgundianʼ, clearly older. The
magic came as we began eating the pasta course and sipping the wine. With each bite and sip the wine appeared to get younger and show more fruit, by the time the course was finished it was difficult to tell the wines apart, an amazing transition.

The other library wine that really made my highlight list this year was the ʼ97 Reserve Merlot Mailbox Vineyard. I showed this wine in San Diego the week before Thanksgiving during a seminar on Merlot. I was quite struck by the now 15 year old wine and the core of bright, sweet, red cherry fruit that it had retained; it still is a ʻyoungʼ wine!

So if you have not had the chance to try some of our older wines and you really want to buy some Keenan Cabernet this Christmas I heartily recommend taking advantage of our current offer – while it lasts!

Holiday Cheers,

–Michael Keenan

FROM THE PRESIDENT: Wine Shortage?

Spring-Summer 2012

Seemingly unthinkable a few years ago was the notion that we would be facing an inventory shortage. When the ʻ07ʼs were in barrel and we were releasing the ʻ05ʼs three years ago it seemed like we had an ocean of wine to sell. Not only was inventory strong but the economy was abysmal. I woke up in the middle of the night several times in the summer of ʼ09 thinking that our business was no longer viable. Through creative marketing (read crazy deal-making!) and a slowly recovering economy we turned our cash flow from negative to positive by the end of ʼ09.

Now the last 21 months have been the strongest sales that we have ever seen in our 35 years of being in business. Ten years of very strong reviews from some of the worldsʼ most influential wine critics, consistent marketing all over the country combined with three out of the last four vintages being below average yields has brought us to todayʼs situation: not much wine to sell.

It is amazing how fast the wine market has turned. The consistent refrain from distributors 3 years ago was,” What kind of deals do you have?” Now itʼs, “This is all I get?”

Believe me, I wish I had ten thousand cases of ʼ08 Reserve Cabernet to sell but thanks to a freak frost in the spring of that year I donʼt know if weʼll have any left by Open House Day.

Thankfully this spring has been near ideal grape growing weather, sooooo much nicer than last yearsʼ spring from Hell. Perhaps four years from now this column will be trumpeting the greatness of the 2012 Cabernet Sauvignon in both itsʼ quality and quantity. In the meantime get the ʻ08ʼs while you can.

Cheers,

–Michael Keenan

FROM THE PRESIDENT: Highlight of the Year

Fall-Winter 2011-2012

Itʼs not that often where you have one event in a year that really stands out as exceptional. 2011 had that singular event for us at the winery.

At this time last year we got the notice from the Napa Valley Vintners Association asking us if we wanted to offer a dinner at the winery for the Wine Auction in June. We hadnʼt done an event for the Auction at the winery for several years and I felt the time was ripe to do another one. I asked Jennifer if she wanted to take charge of this time-eating and non-paying endeavor and she agreed. Well after butting heads with the Auction rules and requirements for two weeks we decided to give up on participating with the Vintners and just throw a dinner at the winery for our 40 top direct buyers and thus was born the ʻTop 40ʼ party.

I asked my great friend Chef Kurt from the Coach House in Oklahoma City to come out and do the dinner and he readily agreed. Chef Kurt is not only enormously talented but rends asunder the notion that great Chefs have to be enormous primadonnas. Not only did Chef plan the entire meal, he brought out his GM and his top server to help execute the service. And when word got out that he was coming to Napa to do a dinner, four of his former protégés, who are now Bay Area Chefs in their own right, volunteered to help. Iʼve never seen so much talent in our humble little kitchen.

We did the dinner in the cellar, which Jennifer transformed with red carpet, candles and amazing table decorations. It was truly a transformative experience. This was more than just a dinner, it was a night that made me feel an immense sense of pride; in our setting, what our team has accomplished wine wise in the last 12 years, watching my daughter trailing behind the pros carrying every dish down that oversized flight of stairs, and having the kind of friends who can cook like that! I ate every morsel that was set before me. I never do that at wine
dinners.

Needless to say, we want to do this again in 2012. Mark your calendars for Saturday August 4th and stay tuned to find out how to qualify!

Cheers to memories,

–Michael Keenan

FROM THE PRESIDENT: Best Ever?

Spring-Summer 2011

For several years my close friends have been teasing me about my over-usage of the term “best ever”. Each new vintage would be brought forth as the best we have ever produced. Truth be told I do feel that the last ten years in Napa (and certainly for us) have been the best decade ever, perhaps for any wine region anywhere.

Nonetheless I have of late restrained my usage of the term “best ever”, partly because I was tired of hearing myself say it and partly because itʼs like arguing over whom the best baseball player of all time is (oh wait that would be Willie Mays!).

For about eighteen months, roughly when the first ʼ07 Cabernets were being released from other Napa wineries, I have been repeatedly asked by people in the trade if the hype about the ʻ07ʼs was true and did I feel it was the best vintage ever for us. Due to my newfound sense of restraint I would not answer yes directly but just try to describe what I thought were the signature markers of this vintage.

Well if you like deep, dark, rich, sweet fruit flavors with a seemingly endless finish and tannins that are beyond silky, this just might be your cup of tea. I will never forget one of our ʻ07 blending trials. It was mid March 2009, the low point (I hope) of the latest recession. We had just concluded a rather bleak financial meeting in the office and I felt I was literally dragging myself into the tasting room to work on the ʼ07 cabs. After only about five minutes of smelling and tasting the estate cabernets I felt completely transformed. I looked up from my notes and asked Matt and Randy if twelve years ago if they had ever even imagined that barrel samples of estate cabernet could ever taste this incredibly rich and ridiculously smooth. They both answered no, they had never even imagined this.

Best ever? I wonʼt say it – but you can!

Cheers,

–Michael Keenan

FROM THE PRESIDENT: Highlights of The Drinking Year

Spring-Summer 2009

My favorite trade event of the year is the Napa Premiere Auction in February. For this event we make a unique auction lot blend and people from the trade and media come from all over the world to bid and enjoy a week in Napa going to open houses, parties and all manner of special events. After the auction last February our friends from Arkansas took us to the Martini House (sadly now closed) to celebrate another successful auction (they have purchased our lot several years in row). On the way out the door to dinner with Jennifer I thought that I should
bring something special to celebrate. We had been drinking barrel samples of the auction lots most of the day and young current release wines most of the week so I grabbed a magnum of 2001 Napa Merlot and a magnum of 2000 Cabernet Sauvignon. We ordered the famous Martini House Mushroom specials and began to pour the Merlot.

My, oh my, how mighty damn good that Merlot was with those mushrooms! Chris Robertson, one of the Arkansans, exclaimed, “Michael, that might be the best damn Merlot I have ever had!” When I told him how much the wine had retailed for five years ago ($30/750ml) he then muttered something about those damn French wines being so ridiculously expensive!

Speaking of French, highlight #2 was at Fandango, a French Bistro in Pacific Grove, Ca. They had recently ordered the ʼ07 Carneros Merlot so imagine my surprise when the ʼ02 Napa Merlot was presented. This wine didnʼt even need any food; it opened up immediately and showed copious rich red cherry fruit and a velvety deep texture that just said pure pleasure! I donʼt even remember what I ate with it – it simply didnʼt matter.

Highlight #3 was in Tampa, Florida at Bernʼs Steakhouse the first week of November. Could be the greatest wine list in the world. 1943 Cheval Blanc, it still took an hour to open up! 67 freakin years old! Tannins still had a little grit to them, lovely violet like perfume coming out at the end, sublime. I heard that back then everything went into the crusher, stems, leaves; no such thing as a sorting table.

The theme here is age. You simply canʼt in any way replicate what time does to a great bottle of wine.

Speaking of time: in the past year the wine business seems to have rebounded from the abyss of winter/spring of 2009, and for this I would like to give a very special thank you to our loyal wine club members who have played a very large part in making this last year a year worthy of giving thanks for.

Cheers!

–Michael Keenan

FROM THE PRESIDENT: Director of Social Media/Raker of Leaves

Spring-Summer 2010

That is the title on my son Reilly’s freshly printed Keenan Winery business card. He has been working for us on and off for the past couple of years, mostly under Randy’s guidance in the cellar or any where on the property where work needs to be done. He is the bottom man on the totem pole, hence, on occasion is asked to clear the driveway of leaves.

A few months ago I had what I thought at the time was a brilliant idea: let’s put Reilly in charge of starting our Facebook page! He’s young, computer savvy, always connected to his friends and would have no trouble figuring this out. I hear about Facebook seemingly all the time from our customers and industry colleagues and they all say that the winery should be on it. I have no clue how to do this. I’m pretty sure I was in the bar having a beer with Betty White when they had the seminar on what Facebook was all about!

Having a teenager is a lot like being in the stock market these days. One day they are up and full of promise for the future and the next day they are lying slack-jawed on the couch seemingly unable to feed themselves. When Reilly and I met a while ago to talk about our Facebook thing I showed him another winery’s page and just said, “Make it better than that.” He replied, “That’s not a very high bar to jump over.” I looked at our page last week and thought I’m not really sure he has done much jumping.

I do encourage any of you who use Facebook to hit the link on our homepage and do whatever it is you do there on our page. If you have any ideas/requests let Reilly know. Reilly@keenanwinery.com. And if you come to the tasting room this summer on a Saturday you may run into him. He’s easy to spot; he’ll be the tallest, skinniest, blondest fellow in the room. If you get a chance ask him to tell you the story of when the Fed-ex guy imitated him
using the leaf-blower last winter, it’s hilarious.

Amazing how easy it is to imitate a teenager, probably because we have all been there!

Cheers to the 3rd generation, our future!

–Michael Keenan

FROM THE PRESIDENT: 30th Anniversary Vintage

Spring-Summer 2009

One of the things that I have realized recently is that I have had to “unlearn” some of the fundamental axiomatic truths about wine that my father instilled in me many years ago. For him great wine was all about intensity, structure, complexity, and the ability to improve through the aging process. This is why Dad only looked for property in the mountains, thinking this setting would better achieve this dynamic than a valley setting. He was absolutely right about Spring Mountain. Grapes grown here are more intense. To further augment intensity watering, like in France, was prohibited. Nothing was done to enhance soil health, this would “spoil” the vines, and to achieve greatness the vines must really struggle! This theory, while sound on paper, ended up producing wines that were a little too intense with tannins that only a father could love.

It took me years to realize it but augmenting intensity was not the way to go. Our appellation does enough of that on its own. Enhancing soil health through sustainable practices such as growing cover crops and applying organic compost is the way to go. And for Gods’ sake if the vines need water let them have a drink! This produces wines with a better tannin texture and a more expressive nature.

But the biggest surprise for me over the last decade has been the relationship between quality and quantity. One of the great axioms in the wine world is that lower yields produce higher quality. While I’m sure this must be true for other appellations this has surprisingly not been so up on the mountain.

2006, our 30th vintage, produced a record Chardonnay yield and a record Merlot yield. Quite frankly we were all a little shocked over the Chardonnay yield and I decided to keep it a state secret until the wine sold out for fear that people would think less of it had they known how much of it there was. But now I feel comfortable enough about these truths to talk about them in real time.

The wine on the cover, the 2006 30th Anniversary Reserve Merlot from the Mailbox Vineyard is simply put the most mouth watering, delicious Merlot that we have ever put in bottle. I’m sipping on a glass right now: the depth of fruit, the spiciness, the big rich velvety texture, oh my- oh my!

Well, here is to thirty years of living and learning on Spring Mountain and feeling our identity forming!

Cheers,

–Michael Keenan

FROM THE PRESIDENT: Sugars and Acids together, oh my!

Spring-Summer 2009

We saw something in the vineyards in 2005 during the ripening process that we had never seen or heard of before. That is for about a week we saw acids and sugars go up together. Normally acids and sugars have an inverse relationship, when the sugars are going up during the ripening process the acids are going down. And the trick with hitting just the right time to pick is catching the moment before the spread between sugars and acids
gets too big.

The weather in September of !05 was not the usual textbook California dry and warm weather. We had an unusual cool period near the beginning of the month. The sugars had begun to rise and the acids had begun to fall but when the cool weather hit they both reversed direction. This is rare but not unheard of. Now when the sun came back out and warmed up the vineyard the sugars made the U turn and began to go up again but what was really unusual was for almost a week the acids kept going up as well. We had literally never heard of this before.

The weather generally remained somewhat mild for the rest of the harvest season and we were able to pick at a relatively calm pace and with slightly higher than normal natural acid levels. The resulting wine in barrel showed a wonderful precision of flavor, bright, defined notes, seamless velvety tannins, and a remaining dark sense of undefined richness. My overall assessment, or grade, for the vintage was very high, equivalent to the rich and robust !04 vintage. In the back of my mind though, I wondered how Parker would rate these wines. The !05s were decidedly more elegant and refined than the very rich !04s. The !05 vintage, more like great Jazz or classical music compared to the rock and roll of the !04s, and the general assumption about Parker is that he prefers rock and roll.

Not so surprisingly he did rate most of the wines a point or two lower. The reason I am bringing all of this up is that I have been genuinely surprised by how much the !05s have matured in the bottle in the last six months. We released the Napa Cabernet in April and the Reserve Cabernet this week. I had not tasted either wine for 6 months prior to release and I was quite amazed at how much richer and more defined these wines have become with more bottle time. Parker rates the wines when they are very young, two months after bottling. Not so surprisingly the Wine Enthusiast, which tasted the wines very recently for review in their August issue, rated all the wines two points higher.

I had a very special feeling about the !05 growing season as it was unfolding which I mentioned in newsletter #14. I feel this may be one of our longest-lived and most interesting vintages.

Cheers to the Future,

–Michael Keenan

FROM THE PRESIDENT: Cabernet Franc the Fourth Reserve wine

Fall-Winter 2008

Even though it doesn’t say it on the label or in the shape of the bottle we consider the Cabernet Franc our fourth ‘Reserve’ wine. When my father planted it thirty years ago I don’t think he ever imagined that we would be bottling it as a single vineyard wine. Now we have an as yet unresolved debate going at the winery as to which Bordeaux varietal is our strongest. A case can be made for each of the three, Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc,
and Merlot. Each has received scores in the nineties for every bottling in the last five vintages from Robert Parker. To confuse matters further our blend Mernet has garnered the highest ratings of the four reserve wines in that same five years.

Fortunately unresolved debating makes me very thirsty, I think I’ll go and open a bottle of wine…ah, that’s better.

Not being able to see into the future in 1975 or even at the time of the great replanting of 1997 we did not put in much Cabernet Franc, thinking that it would be used primarily for blending. Wrong-o. The ’01-’04 bottlings of Estate Cabernet Franc became our hottest and most allocated wine. We couldn’t even put the ’04 on the order form on the website.

Blessedly, Mother Nature gave me a wonderful idea at the conclusion of the ’03 harvest. We ended up with a record Merlot crop even though we had to abandon a two- acre block at the top of the ‘Upper Bowl’ because it got too ripe before we could pick it. Needing more Franc and less Merlot the decision to graft over that block to Franc seemed like a no-brainer. Walking into the vineyard the day after the grafting was done was one of the more shocking sights I have ever seen. The vines had been cut off at the knees and for all intents and purposes looked quite dead. “I will surely pay for this in the after-life”, I thought, “what was I thinking”.

Thankfully vines are semi-miraculous life forms. Within weeks of the butchering, new shoots were coming out of the seemingly lifeless stumps. There was even a teeny crop in ’04 and a shockingly robust yield in ’05. No wonder ancient cultures worshipped these plants.

Happily for the first time I have been able to show the Cabernet Franc to the trade and public and yes, put it back on the website. So remember in this time of economic madness and stress great wine makes everything better.

Cheers,

–Michael Keenan

FROM THE PRESIDENT: Pigeonholing Parker

Spring-Summer 2008

Criticizing Robert Parker as of late has become a cottage industry nearly as big as Parker himself. He has been blamed for the !Parkerization” of the wine industry; that is every winemaker is now making overly alcoholic, overly oakey, overbearing wines that have no sense of balance or !place”, yet receive high scores from Parker thus driving demand and prices ever skyward. This is a little akin to blaming the weatherman when it rains (or doesn”t!). Parker merely rates the wines, he isn”t holding a gun to anyone”s head to buy them.

A case can be made that the man truly responsible for the modern state of wine making world-wide is none other than a Frenchman, Dr. Emile Peynaud. He began preaching in the late 50″s for the French to thin crop load and let the grapes ripen longer than had been traditional. He was the first to say that great wines should not need 20 years in bottle to mature, they should be in balance from the very beginning. By 1982 he and his star pupil, Michelle Roland, had the ear of most of the top Chateaux in Bordeaux. The weather that year was quite warm and a very ripe and rich vintage resulted. The established old guard of critics (mostly English) declared the vintage mediocre at best and certainly to be short lived. Parker stuck his neck out and singularly declared it to be one of the greatest vintages of the post war era. History has sided with Parker on the “82 vintage; out with the old guard, in with the new.

No doubt there are countless examples on more than one continent of winemakers taking the good doctors” advice a bit too far, especially when it comes to hang-time. Next to determining what to plant and where our most important decision is when to

Matt and I, after ten years together in the vineyards, have really begun to dial in that precise moment, catching that first window of true physiological ripeness and maintaining a wonderful amount of natural acidity. The wine on the cover of this issue, the “04 Reserve Cabernet, I think is a fabulous example of great timing. Along with obvious elements of delicious ripe mature fruit in this wine is a hint of bell pepper, one of the signature markers that help tell you that you are drinking cabernet. Any more hang-time and this marker would
be gone as would some of the mouth-watering acidity that this wine has retained. As my father said to me many times growing up, the key to life is balance, taking anything to the extreme is usually a mistake.

Cheers,

P.s. Still no thank you note from the IRS !

–Michael Keenan

FROM THE PRESIDENT: Big Numbers and why the IRS is my new friend

Fall-Winter 2007-2008

Big numbers have dominated this past year on our family calendar. In May our daughter Maddy turned 16 (clean the shotgun!). In July my lovely bride Jennifer turned 50 (she has never looked better!). In September our son Reilly turned 18 (check the airbags!). Next week Jennifer and I celebrate our 20th wedding anniversary (gold star for both!). And in two very short months I will turn 50 (I know I!m forgetting something?!).

In the wine industry this past year we saw some big numbers as in prominent Napa Valley family run wineries that sold out to very large corporate entities for some very large numbers. Rumor on the street has it that there will be more next year. This echoes a larger trend in the wine business as a whole in that we have been the seeing the consolidation of many family run wholesalers (just the type of company we seek to do business with) into a small number of multi state behemoths over the last several years.

The point I!m trying to get across here is that the small family run estate winery is becoming an endangered species. Of the myriad challenges our type of business faces the most difficult is surely the hand off from one generation to the next. Not only do you have to find someone in the next generation who has the drive and the ability to forge ahead into the uncertain future, but you have to have the financial wherewithal to appease the suddenly inquisitive IRS.

A large proportion of my energies in the past year have been directed toward the survival of this newly intimate relationship with the IRS. It has been wonderful to discover what an engaging and deserving group they actually are, so generous with their time, so understanding of my plight. They totally understand that I can!t possibly produce the mountain of cash that they so richly deserve. And in this tight credit market today where
lenders have become much more reticent to extend their dwindling cash reserves to strangers who need loans, the IRS is there for me, and with such great rates!

Lastly, and by no means least, this last harvest finally gave us a full and very deep crop off the big cab vineyard.

So cheers to future, I strongly believe that we will have one!

–Michael Keenan

FROM THE PRESIDENT: Tribute Part 2

Spring-Summer 2006

Four years ago my father had a solar powered electrical generating system installed at his home in San Mateo. He loved the idea of generating his own power and even more, loved bragging about the fact that he no longer had to pay the utility company anything for it. And though my father would certainly never be accused of being a fan of Al Gore, installing this system pleased his natural conservative sense of protecting the environment.

So with system installed and his meter spinning backward he began to regularly bug me about installing a system at the winery. “Too expensive,” I replied, “and unlike you, I have to worry about my budget and have too many other pressing issues to address right now.” When I looked at my end-of-the-year expenses and saw what a small percentage my utility bills were of my overall costs and combined that with what I thought it would cost to install solar it seemed unfeasible at best.

When my father got a good idea (or thought he had!) he could be very persistent. So he kept bugging me. I knew he would not stop until I did something about it. So last summer I had two companies give me a proposal to install a system at the winery that would meet all our power needs for the winery and the houses on the property. I was convinced that when I had these proposals in hand I could then show my father in writing how expensive and therefore unfeasible his “great” idea was.

Imagine my surprise when, after meeting with Katrina and Rob from Sunlightelectric last July, installing a photovoltaic system suddenly seemed not only do-able but a darn good idea to boot. Not only did all the numbers make sense, but also Sunlightelectrics’ pole-mounted design was an inspired solution as to where we could locate the solar panels.

Well, with Dad’s all to pleased blessing last July I signed the contract with Sunlightelectric and now the system is complete and we are spinning the meters backwards!

Cheers Dad, good one.

–Michael Keenan

FROM THE PRESIDENT: Tribute

Spring-Summer 2006

Encarta World English Dictionary defines “tribute” as something said or given to show gratitude, praise, or
admiration. This definition describes pretty accurately how I feel about my father who passed away on November 17th.

Ten years ago this was not the case, in fact, it could not have been further from it. We were not speaking to each other and he had even taken the time to put in writing his desire never to see me again and to insure that I would have no part of him. Harsh times emotionally.

To say that things have come full circle in the last ten years is just a beginning. Many things and many circles have been made.

Thirty years ago when I was completing my first circling of the globe, the last city I stopped in was Hong Kong. A month later, I was working the first harvest at the winery. Thirty years later, weeks after the conclusion of our thirtieth harvest, I was again in Hong Kong, this time, celebrating the fifth anniversary of our Hong Kong distributor.

The first night there I co-hosted a winemaker dinner at a restaurant aptly named “Tribute,” the name, according to the owner, being attributed to winemakers. I couldn’t help but think what an amazing coincidence this was, and how it seemed to me these last ten years have in some ways seemed like a “journey” to tribute.

Nine years ago, mostly at the wise urging of my wife, Jennifer, I reached out to my Dad when he really needed
some support. To make a long story short, we were able to reestablish our relationship. He asked me to take over
his affairs as he felt that he was really ready to retire and I agreed.

For the first several years, I had to focus on the structural problems that the winery was suffering from and I noticed that I was quite eager to assign these various problems to my perceived shortcomings of my father’s personality and I was energized by the thought of succeeding where he had come up short.

With the passage of a few more years and the indispensable help of the crack team at the winery of Matt, Randy, Laura, Nils, Art, Jeanne, and Jennifer, all those old problems seem like ancient history now and almost like they never were that big of a deal. The focus the last couple of years and now is not one of repair but of harnessing our creative energies to move forward, and to always improve. Re-doing the tasting room, installing a solar energy system, and creating new wines are the order of the day.

The last six harvests have all been incredible and the sky seems like the limit. During this period I have noticed how my thoughts and public comments about my father have completely changed in tone. There is no longer
assignment of blame, but credit and praise for first having the vision and second the tenacity to hang in there long enough to provide us the opportunity to finally bring his dream to fruition.

Oddly enough, Dad never again visited the winery after I came on board. He was strangely superstitious and
somehow thought it would be best if he just stayed away. Well, now another circle is completed. Dad, in condensed
form, now resides on top of the armoire in the tasting room where he can get a bird’s eye view of the vibrant activity in the tasting room and keep an eye on our blending sessions for a while.

Holiday Cheers,

–Michael Keenan

FROM THE PRESIDENT: One more time?

Spring-Summer 2006

I’m writing this on the 4th day of June and although it is technically still spring it really feels like the 4th day of summer. Our typical summer pattern of early morning fog on the coast and up the valley followed by hours of gorgeous sunshine and cool breezes in the evening seems successfully entrenched.

And not a moment too soon. Just six weeks ago we were still in the grips ofthe worst winter any of us can recall. We had already received over 70 inches of rain, shattering last years’ record of 63 inches, and one state forecaster thought we had another month left of this pattern. Good grief!

I have never seen the vines dormant for such an extended period of time. Last year we had plenty of sun between each storm so the vines got off to a great start, but this year we had grey, cold, rainy days seemingly without end. If it didn’t rain it was still dark, cold, and miserable.

So naturally my mind began to ponder the worst-case scenario. What if we simply did not have a harvest this year? This is farming after all; there are no guarantees. Aside from the fact that I thought it would be a shame if our 30th anniversary vintage was a total bust, I thought if we had to experience a completely disastrous vintage we are probably in as good a position to weather it as we have ever been.

A strong case can be made that the five-year period of 2001 through 2005 has produced the five strongest consecutive vintages in our history. 2001 through 2003 I would rate as equal vintages. All three can be considered excellent and each has its’ specific strengths and unique characteristics. 2004 and 2005 I am quite sure can be rated as our finest back-to-back vintages in our history. 2004 seems to possess in one vintage a synthesis of the strengths of the three previous years and 2005 is quite frankly beyond description at this point.

Well, mother-nature has provided spectacular weather for the last five weeks and the vine growth has been nothing short of miraculous.

My mind has left behind the contemplation of the disastrous and has moved on to the enjoyment of the present state of glorious vine health, numerous fruit clusters, and the very real possibility of yet another great year!

Cheers to summer!

–Michael Keenan

FROM THE PRESIDENT: An Extraordinary Year

Fall-Winter 2005-2006

We have a truly extraordinary view from our office window at the winery. Our Chardonnay vineyard is right below us and as soon as the vineyard ends the forest begins. A small hill rises up that blocks a view of the valley below but is not high enough to prevent an unobstructed view of the rocky eastern palisades. No houses, no roads in sight. Sometimes I wonder how we get any work done.

At some point last March we were all in the office having a “meeting”. After about ten minutes – which I think should be the limit of any “meeting”– I found myself staring out the window at the natural world. I couldn!t help but blurt out, “Have you guys noticed how green it is outside? I mean, I don!t think I have ever seen the trees look this dark green or the cover crop in the vine rows look this lush and tall.” Fortunately I was not alone in my observations, and this was, I might add, before lunch so no sampling of our fine products had yet occurred to
influence our perceptions of the world around us.

So I started to get an inkling that this year, this cycle, might have something extraordinary in store for us. Other signs appeared. The wild flower crop this year was the most brilliant that I remember ever seeing and the bird life seemed more numerous. One day while walking in the cabernet vineyard I saw what I guessed to be about two hundred ravens seemingly “playing” in a big group going from tree to tree and making a tremendous amount of noise.

The cover crop was the thickest and most exuberant ever. We are certain of this because we have never had to mow it this many times! And don!t get me started about the fig tree this year. I think that recipe went out in the September wine club shipment and I highly recommend it!

The rainfall this last year was an all-time record; sixty-three inches. And between each storm there was plenty of sun. So the stage was set for a great growing season but each time a vineyard started flowering it started raining again! At one point I thought it would be a miracle if we ended up with any fruit. It even rained on Father!s Day weekend, the day of our open house. Somehow the bees managed to get their job done through all the rain and fruit did begin to form. August was pretty mild and we all looked forward to some good ol! September
heat to bring us home.

The first ten days of September were really cold. There were days that didn!t get over fifty-six degrees. Were my special feelings about this year just the musings of a madman? Would the fruit ever ripen? Were we now in the grips of some new evil global weather pattern? No, yes, and no, respectively. The sun finally came out, the vines responded rapidly and we harvested what may turn out to be a truly extraordinary vintage.

Cheers to the future!

–Michael Keenan

FROM THE PRESIDENT: Trials,Trials & More Trials

Spring-Summer 2005

AND THE RETURN OF THE “MAILBOX” ?!

We have just concluded our blending trials for the 2003 red wines. The trials are the blind tastings of barrel samples of all the different lots of red wines from the !03 vintage. The objective being to determine the final forms that the various bottlings will have. Last year the !02 vintage practically assembled itself, but this year at the beginning of the trials the task seemed like a big puzzle with nothing but sky pieces.

Granted part of the problem when we started the trials at the beginning of March was that we had just received our best review from Robert Parker in our history for the !02 reds. He even boldly declared the 2002 Mernet Reserve as the best wine in our entire history! No pressure following that! But despite the enormous expectations on we went.

The first thing that we try to assess in the trials is whether or not there are wines worthy of the “reserve” designation. I was pretty sure that the !03 vintage had a “reserve” cabernet in it but beyond that it was still all sky pieces. Immediately we determined that clone 15 would be the basis for the “reserve” cabernet but it seemingly took weeks to massage the final blend into place.

Next came Mernet and or Merlot “reserve.” One potential problem for us with the !03 vintage was that we had very little merlot from the Carneros vineyard. This wine is primarily used for blending. It goes into almost every red wine we make and has played an especially important role every vintage in the “Mernet.” But Carneros and almost all of Napa with the exception of Spring Mountain District had terrible weather during set in the spring of !03 and thus had drastically reduced crop amounts. Conversely Spring Mountain had flowering and set a week later than the rest of the valley and by then the weather had cleared and we had a successful set and eventually a record crop in the fall!

Again all sky pieces! We were close but stuck short of a happy conclusion for either the “Mernet! or the Merlot. It wasn!t until we resorted to some ancient Bordelaise trickery that the “lower bowl! merlot emerged as an absolutely stunning embodiment of the purest, most voluptuous, merlot, that I have ever seen! Two birds with one stone. Our first single vineyard reserve merlot since the now legendary “Mailbox” Merlot from the !97 vintage! And to boot the lower bowl matched equally with the estate clone four cabernet will make our first 100% estate “Mernet.!

Cue the parting of the clouds and the bursting rays of the just in time sunshine! All the pieces now are falling together. The sun has quite literally arrived just in time. The bees are buzzing, the vines are flowering, and Mother Nature appears ready to take us for another wild ride!

Cheers to summer!

–Michael Keenan

FROM THE PRESIDENT: Second Season

Fall-Winter 2004-2005

This time of the year marks what we refer to as the start of the “second season”. Our pimary season, the grape growing season, has just concluded with another very successful harvest and with the first good rains of the year coming quickly on its’ heels the “second season” is off to a great start. While the vines and deciduous trees are losing their leaves and becoming grey and bare the earth in the vineyard is springing to life and turning an emerald green.

Besides being pleasing to the eyes there are several distinct benefits to the vineyard from the
growth of the second season crops.

Being a mountain winery has always posed the problem of slope. For thousands of years farmers have terraced hillsides, essentially creating level steps up and down the hillside to allow them to use the same farming techniques that the more fortunate valley farmer could use. In 1998 we had to replant our largest Cabernet Sauvignon vineyard. Instead of keeping the terraces we decided to contour the hill smooth and plant the vine rows straight down the fall line. This has revolutionized our relationship with erosion; historically one of our biggest
problems. Now we can grow our cover crops over the entire surface of the vineyard during the rainy season and inhibit erosion more than ever.

Another benefit from the cover crops are the positive changes to the soil composition. The tunnelling of the root systems of the grasses and grains provide increased passageways for water and nutrients to penetrate below the surface to the vines root systems. Certain plants also produce needed nutrients like nitrogen that the vines need during their growing season.

Compost is also provided by the second season crops, in that everything that grows in the vineyard stays in the vineyard. The mowing that is done in early spring leaves the vineyard rows covered in cut vegetation that again inhibits soil evaporation and retains the late spring moisture well into the summer and provides composting material for the following fall, further enhancing the soils’ composition.

We have all noticed that walking in the vineyards after the first big rain in the fall has become much less slippery than it was six years ago when we first started implementing these techniques because the soil composition has markedly changed.

Perhaps most importantly to the consumer though is the effect on the final product, the wine. I firmly believe that our improved farming practices have led to healthier more vibrant vines and this has directly led to wines that have a more expressive and voluptuous nature. Last christmas Robert Parker gave us our highest scores in our history for our 2001 vintage. I think that the 2000 vintage though was our breakthrough vintage; the first year that we really saw the benefits of our improved farming techniques . Last summer we entered our 2000 cabernet
sauvignon in the California State wine competition( the biggest of its kind!) and since we release over a year later than most wineries we were up against mostly 2001s. Well we got 98 points (the highest score given this year!) the double gold medal and was deemed best of Napa Appelation!

So here’s to another great second season-cheers!

–Michael Keenan

FROM THE PRESIDENT: Milestones

Spring-Summer 2004

This year marks a number of significant milestones for the Robert Keenan Winery. The oldest milestone is that this is 100th anniversary of our winery building. In 1904 the Conradi family from northern Italy (the Spring Mountain District reminded them of home) built a traditional Italian hillside cellar. Digging into the hill to use the earth’s natural cooling system, and using the abundantly available local stone stock, they constructed a building that not only looks timeless but has indeed endured the test of time.

This year also marks the 30th anniversary of the “Robert Keenan Winery.” When my father, Robert, bought the property thirty years ago some of his friends, who had already bought land down in the valley, laughed at him. “You can’t even drive a tractor up there, Robert,” they chided, “you should be down here in the valley with us
where the living is easy!” I think time will validate my father’s instincts, i.e., mountain fruit is more complex and can have more profound characteristics thus meriting higher recognition. The 2001 Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon is a fabulous example of these qualities and is just, I believe, a hint of what our vineyards have in store
for us.

Another milestone is this year marks the tenth year that Nils Venge, Randy Kewel, and, Matt Gardener have worked together making the wine, making them, by far, the longest tenured team in our history.

People frequently ask me, “Who’s your winemaker?” I usually reply, half jokingly, “No one, the vineyard does all the work, and the wines really make themselves.”

This is partially a nod to the European concept that indeed there is actually no exact word for winemaker in most European languages and the term winemaker is of American origin. But more importantly, this response is an acknowledgement of the seamless workings of our current team, and of how naturally the illusion of
effortlessness is accomplished.

These milestones were beautifully celebrated last Thursday evening with a dinner in the cellar. A singular, long table for 24 was set (Italian style!) by my wife Jennifer, using colors that matched those in the cellar. The dishes that were picked were foods that grew or were hunted on the mountain, candles provided the illumination, and of course the vineyards that we could see through the stone arched cellar doors provided the refreshment. Never have I seen a more perfect setting for a celebration.

I couldn’t help but wonder if the Conradi’s had ever had a night like this. Let’s all hope that all of us have many more nights and moments like this one!

Cheers!

–Michael Keenan

FROM THE PRESIDENT: Remembering

Fall-Winter 2003-2004

One of the things you hear all the TIME about the distribution side of the wine business is that it is a relationship business. To get things done, you have to establish good relationships with the people who are going to buy and sell your wine. You hear it so much that it has become cliché. But like a lot of cliches, it is based in truth. In the time that I have been in the wine business, the financial rewards of the relationships that I have established are not what I value, but more importantly, it is the simple pleasure of making great new friends in various cities across the country.

“Take time to cherish your friends and family… gather together, have a great meal… and enjoy each other’s company.”

One of the new friendships that I have thoroughly enjoyed has been with Barry Manpearl, who represented our wines in the midwest. A trip to Chicago, Milwaukee, or St. Louis always carried the added bonus of knowing that I would get to spend some time with Barry: sharing a great meal with great wine, telling stories, and getting some business done. Business was always important, but somehow placed in context after the primary pleasure of simply being able to share each other’s company. The telephone, naturally, played a huge role in our relationship, and it was over the phone during the last three months that Barry told me about his cancer diagnosis, treatment, and apparent initial recovery. He had met a whole new world of people who had beat this disease, and with tremendous
courage and positive energy, he was determined to become part of this brave new tribe. So when I answered my phone early Monday morning and was told that Barry had died, I was shocked and rendered speechless. Our deepest
sympathies, support, and love go to Barry’s wife and son from all of us.

I am very fortunate that I have a great, beautiful, healthy, and happy family, and plenty of friends to share things both wonderful and terrible. To all on our mailing list and friends of Keenan Winery–take time to cherish your friends and family, gather together, have a great meal with a great bottle of wine, and enjoy each
other’s company!

–Michael Keenan

FROM THE PRESIDENT: News Flash – the end of the story

Spring-Summer 2003

SPRING OF 2003 BRINGS TO A CONCLUSION the Saga of the 1998 Cabernet Sauvignon. On March 21st, three hundred and fifty five days after its release, the last pallet was shipped off to Las Vegas.

How do you spell relief ? 1999 is how.

On March 27th, I was in Chicago working with our most excellent distributor showing the 1999 Cabernet Sauvignon for the first time. After talking up the Chardonnay and the Merlot, it was time to describe the ’99 Cabernet. The
salesperson wanted to hear about the wine, our broker wanted to here the new story, and of course, the wine buyer for the wonderful restaurant where we were, wanted to hear all about it. I simply said, “Look, I have just finished the most exhausting year of my sales career praising the spectacular merits of the 1998 Cabernet and maybe five percent of the wine buyers listened to me because of the tremendously negative pall that the Wine Spectator (this is the third newsletter in a row that I have mentioned this publication–could be a trend!) cast over the entire vintage, so it really doesn’t matter what I say. The Wine Spectator says that the ’99 is a great vintage so you would be an absolute moron not to buy it!” Fortunately laughter filled the room, and the astute wine buyer for the fabulous restaurant ordered two cases of ’99 Cabernet and a six-pack of Mernet (only 80 are left of 300 cases!). Then he asked if I would come back in the fall and do a winemaker dinner.

I guess they like the blunt approach in Chicago.

Back in California, the restaurants that were pouring the ’98 Cab by the glass were fighting over the few remaining cases in our broker’s warehouse. All that remain at the winery are a couple of cases of half bottles, two cases of magnums , and nine 3-liter bottles. Nine months ago, who would of thought that at the end of March
people would be fighting over the 1998 Cabernet?

Other signs of the impending apocalypse include the current (May 15th) issue of the (drumroll please!) Wine Spectator. Noted savant and indefatigable discerner of truth, Matt Kramer, has said that we are once again a “contender” (I always wanted to be!) and that our Merlot is one of the best that he has ever had!

Let the dancing spill into the streets!

–Michael Keenan

FROM THE PRESIDENT: The impossible dream – guess who’s coming to dinner

Fall-Winter 2002-2003

FOR THE JUNE NAPA VALLEY AUCTION catalog, participating vintners were asked the following question: “If you could pick anyone in history, who would you invite for a night out on the town?”

My choice would be Frank Sinatra for a night on the town. I’ve always been curious about the”mob.” Does it actually exist? What about the connections to the Kennedy administration? The Kennedy assassinations? Marilyn Monroe? The “Sopranos?”

I think Frank could really clear these questions up. Plus, think of the prestige and awestruck respect that I would garner from New York restaurateurs when they realize that I was able to be bring Frank Sinatra back from the dead and make him look 30 years old again! Frank would tell everyone that it was the miraculous healing powers of my 1998 Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon! Sales would soar! I would be on the cover of the Wine Spectator!

Unfortunately, ressurecting Frank Sinatra is perhaps the only way I could get some of my out-of-state distributors to get excited about the 1998 Cabernet. Due to consolidation in the distribution end of the business, i.e., giant companies buying up smaller family-run companies, our choices for representation in many markets
outside of California are dwindling. The bigger the company, the simpler the thinking; 98 bad–99 good.

But just as the traditional supplier-to-distributor-to retailer or restaurant-toconsumer four tier system is getting more problematic for the small winery, the winery direct-shipping-to-customer option is growing. Thanks, in part, to several pending legal actions, the internet, and companies like “Fiftyfivedegrees.com,” it is
becoming increasingly easier to ship wine directly to the consumer. Fortunately for us this is the fastest growing segment of our business!

And as a way of saying thank you to the faithful on our mailing list and especially to our wine club members, I would like to extend a special offer on the 1998 Napa Valley Cabernet. For holiday gifts, parties, weddings, or any occasion, please call, fax, or e-mail for a special price if you wish to buy one case or more. Wine Club
members will receive the most outrageous deals!

Happy Holidays from all of us at Keenan Winery!

–Michael Keenan

FROM THE PRESIDENT: The second half of the story

Spring-Summer 2002

JUST ABOUT TWO YEARS AGO, RIGHT AS we were beginning our blending trials for the 1998 reds, The Wine Spectator came out with an article ripping the entire 1998 Cabernet Sauvignon vintage from Northern California and from Napa
in particular. They said that due to adverse weather, the crop just didn’t get ripe and therefore, the wines were thin, green, hard, overpriced, and to be universally avoided.

Unfortunately for a lot of producers, almost everything that the Wine Spectator was saying was true. The 1998 Cabernets that were released one and two years ago were generally thin, green, hard, overpriced, and to be generally avoided!

But what The Wine Spectator failed to mention was that two years later, there would be a second half of the story to tell.

We have been farming on Spring Mountain for 25 years, which in the big picture I do not think is a very long time, but it is long enough to have learned (sometimes the hard way) what to do when Mother Nature throws you the old “Uncle Charley” (that’s baseball for curve-ball).

There were two very important decisions that had to be made during the 1998 growing season and not everybody got them right. The first was how much, or if any, crop should be green harvested (dropped on the ground before harvest to help insure what was left on the vine would ripen). We normally make between 10-11,000 cases a year-in 1998 we made just under 6,000 cases. We dropped a lot of fruit on the ground. We passed the first test.

The second crucial decision came in September. We finally had two weeks of great weather, but heavy rains were on the forecast. The sugars were close, but the seeds were not ripe and the acids were not there yet: to pick or not to pick? We chose not to. We weathered the rains and the mold and finally in mid-November, the fruit got truly ripe! We risked losing all of our fruit but the payoff was worth it.

We did something that not everyone was able to do in 1998: we made the right call on both of the tough decisions and ended up making an extraordinarily beautiful 1998 Cabernet Sauvignon that has some qualities that are even more appealing than the ’97! (Parker scored the ’98 higher). The ’98 opens up in the nose quicker and has more lively, ripe aromatics than the ’97, and has tannins that have a more round, voluptuous mouth-feel at release than the ’97, making the wine more approachable now. The wine was also more delicate in barrel than the ’97 was, so we were even more discerning with our use of newer oak barrels, choosing to use less new oak on the ’98 than the ’97. The final result being a beautiful wine that I am not only proud to put our family name on, but has
won us more awards than any of the cabernets from the last twelve vintages! So here is to the second half of the 1998 Cabernet story!

–Michael Keenan

FROM THE PRESIDENT: A glimpse of the future, a glance at the past

Fall-Winter 2001-2002

BEGINNING IN 1995 AND CONTINUING until 1998, we ripped out and replanted eighty percent of our vineyards. We started with the Chardonnay in ’95 and ’96, continued with the Merlot in ’96 and ’97, and then finished up with the Cabernet Sauvignon vineyard in ’98.

Last Friday, we did our first comprehensive tasting panel of the 2001 Cabernet Sauvignon (our second harvest of the new vineyard). The colors are incredible; the fruit also shows great complexity, ripeness, and classic structure that hints at great ageability. This glimpse of the future looks very bright!

Presently we are releasing two wines, the 1998 Napa Valley Merlot, and the 1998 Reserve Napa Valley Merlot, which were harvested almost exactly three years ago at the end of a very challenging growing season, the polar opposite of this season.

Instead of early bud break and the tremendous spring heat that we had this year, 1998 gave us cool temperatures and rain through the Fourth of July. The summer never did develop the heat that we are accustomed to but by patiently waiting and praying, we finally got our vineyards to ripen by late November. Some credit also
must be given to our unique micro-climate on Spring Mountain where we get more degree days of sunlight than other regions of Napa Valley. In 1998 this advantage of our location proved to be even more crucial than ever as other areas never did fully ripen thus explaining the wide range of quality from the 1998 vintage.

I am very proud of our ’98s; the 1998 Napa Valley Merlot received the third highest score of all Merlots from Wine & Spirits Magazine in their November issue. Our ’98 Cab received the award for best Cabernet Sauvignon, best red wine, best wine in the limited production category, and best label at the Los Angeles County Fair this year!

The capper for me, though, is the 1998 Reserve Napa Valley Merlot. This wine embodies everything the all-knowing critics said that the 1998 vintage could not do. They said we could not make wines of great ripeness, great intensity, great complexity, combined with firm yet round and approachable tannins that will drink
well into the future but are also very approachable and delicious today–but we did!

I hope this brief glimpse of the future and glance at the past provides a better understanding of what we have to offer today. Enjoy.

–Michael Keenan

FROM THE PRESIDENT: Ist Half of the Story

Spring-Summer 2001

The Keenan Winery is missing this issue in their archives. The first member to send us an original copy of the newsletter will receive an autographed bottle of Cabernet or Merlot from Michael Keenan.

FROM THE PRESIDENT: Confessions of a dirt farmer

Fall-Winter 2000-2001

SIX MONTHS AGO, ALMOST TO THE DAY, my son Reilly and I were sitting in the dirt behind the homeplate screen watching the last playoff game of his baseball season. I was sitting on a five-gallon bucket and Reilly was literally sitting in a pile of dirt. Not only was he sitting in it he was also scooping it up and pouring it all over himself and occasionally over me. It had been a great season!

At some point a friend walked by and commented on Reilly’s affinity for dirt and I said, “He’s a true son of a farmer!” To which Reilly replied, “Dad, I don’t want to be a farmer.” “Why not?” I asked. To which he quickly and emphatically said, “Because farmers are poor!”

How on earth did he get this impression; has he been reading my newsletter? Three months later, I’m standing in the dirt at the base of our 22-acre two-year-old cabernet vineyard wondering if the entire vineyard is going to die. It seems that most of the vines have some type of mysterious ugly, swollen, growth at the base of the vine just above the bench-graft. Most of the vines look badly dehydrated and the leaves are displaying colors that are not generally associated with good health.

We call in experts, we send samples to agricultural labs. No one seems to know what we have. We are special. We are “Farmers.” Be afraid my son, be very afraid!

Harvest has come and gone now and we did get our first small crop off the new cab vineyard, not as much fruit as we had hoped, but fruit nonetheless. Most of the vines have miraculously survived and so far the 2000 juice tastes damn good.

Can’t wait till next year!

–Michael Keenan

FROM THE PRESIDENT: Springtime at the winery

Spring-Summer 2000

To me there is nothing quite as magically impressive as springtime in the vineyard.The sight of green shoots erupting out of bare wood that for all intents and purposes, had appeared totally lifeless for the previous three or four months is timelessly amazing.

This spring seems especially vibrant. Five consecutive years of above-average rainfall combined with the perfect weather of the last week of March and first ten days of April got this spring off to a roaring start. The second Friday in April, I was walking through the Chardonnay vineyard experiencing what could only be described as weather perfection. The air quality was crystal perfect. The sun was radiant but not too hot; there were no thoughts of hats. The shoots on the Chardonnay vines were 5 to 7 inches long, which was about 4 inches longer than
they were the week before!

My mind was filled with positive images and thoughts. March had been the best sales month in California in the entire 23-year history of the winery! [Special mention to our Northern California broker: The Monterey Bay Wine Co!] The !99 Chardonnay barrel lots were tasting exceptionally well, especially the lot from our own vineyard. Last year (1999) was our first significant crop since replanting in 1995 due to Pierces disease; and 2000 should be our first full harvest of Chardonnay.

So there I was strolling through the vineyard with happy memories, happy thoughts, and happy projections for the future (hey, maybe even the Giants this year…) when I got to the end of the vineyard row and saw the bug trap. In the trap were nine blue-green sharpshooters, the little leafhopping bug that passes Pierces disease from vine to vine! This is the disease that caused us to replant 85% of our vineyards since 1995. For crying out loud, we have not even had one full crop off of our newly replanted vineyard yet – this is not fair!

So now you all know our dirty little secret; we are certifiably insane! Being in this business is proof positive. But what the heck, we make outstanding Chardonnayjust get it while you can.

–Michael

FROM THE PRESIDENT: Cosmology and the historical importance of wine

Fall-Winter 1999-2000

As we approach the end of the millennium, I think it is fitting to look back to the beginning of time, clear up a few misconceptions, and regain a fresh perspective on the historical importance of wine.

As we all remember God created the world in six days and then rested on the seventh. Now what is never discussed or written about is just what was God thinking about on that seventh day? The reason for this long-standing omission by all scholars is obvious: the subject is way too controversial and entirely politically
incorrect.

Let us turn back to the fifth day, perhaps God!s finest hour. Days one through four, God had created the entire cosmos and had completely covered the earth with many splendid things, but on day five God hit a home run: he created man.

Man was an entirely joyous creative, by 6:30am hunting parties were already organized and alighting upon the bounteous game. By 12:30pm fires were blazing, flesh was roasting, and an entire day of chest thumping, drum beating, and eating without utensils with no intention of cleaning up was well underway. Man saw his future as limitless fun.

But this boundless joy was short-lived for the sixth day saw the arrival of woman. God had swung and missed! God was obviously a little fatigued from his first five days of work and had quite frankly gotten a little sloppy. Woman came out a lot nastier than he had intended and in order to try and appease her, man had spent the entire sixth day cleaning up after the big bar-b-que, cleaning up his language, and cleaning up what little clothing he had. Man was miserable. So on the morning of the seventh day man went to visit God to beg him to stop creating any more problems for man and to please turn over the job of creating things to man. God realized that he had indeed
lost his fastball and agreed.

Man was overjoyed and immediately went to work on Monday the eighth and by 9:00am had created perhaps the greatest invention of all time: Beer! By 5:00pm that day the first beer hall had been erected (men only, of course) and man had a safe place to get drunk and swap stories about their strange encounters with women. This
of course did nothing to improve the naturally surly disposition of women until several centuries had passed and some kind and very thoughtful man decided that it would be nice to heave a beverage that would elevate the disposition of both man and woman; hence the invention of wine.

Now that man could stand prolonged exposure to woman, the invention of the family soon followed as well as the dining room table and civilization as we know it today.

So enjoy your wine and thank your wine for your enjoyment of women!

–Michael Keenan

FROM THE PRESIDENT: Fridays at the Winery

Spring-Summer 1999

Fridays have long been considered by many people to be the most enjoyable day of the week. With this in mind, the highly trained,intensely disciplined, crack winemaking team at the Robert Keenan Winery have chosen this day to execute the most difficult and arduous task that any highly trained, intensely disciplined, crack winemaking team could face: tasting the wine!

In order to soften the blow of this Sisyphean task, on occasion, fantastic, gourmet meals have been prepared at the winery and served to the highly trained, intensely disciplined, crack winemaking team. Fear not, for concentration never flags, even when rack of spring lamb, encrusted in garlic and fresh rosemary, is paired with
Robert Keenan 1977 Pinot Noir! You see, on occasion, we even have to bravely test the library wines to make sure that they are still in good working order. (And a special thank you to Stu Smith, our neighbor and vintner, who sold us those historic grapes and who gallantly assisted in lunch and tasting that day.)

On another occasion when an endless array of 1998 Chardonnay sampes in different types of oak barrels awaited our disciplined scrutiny, Nils Venge, our extremely disciplined and totally selfless (not to mention overly talented) winemaker, volunteer to harvest and prepare fresh abalone in his secret garlic breading. For
some reason, I have not been able to find my tasting notes from that afternoon?

So take note, potential visitors to the winery, should you arrive unannounced on a Friday, one of two things may happen: you will be totally ignored by the highly trained, intensely disciplined, crack winemaking team as we go about our thankless task, or you may be shanghai’d into participating in this most difficult of all Friday
assignments.

–Michael Keenan