Get it hot off the press: Keenan Winery's Spring and Summer Newsletter, 2019, from The President's Desk. - Keenan Winery
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Get it hot off the press: Keenan Winery’s Spring and Summer Newsletter, 2019, from The President’s Desk.



Inevitably when I make a presentation at a wine dinner or to a sales team I stress the fact that we are a small multi-generation estate winery dedicated to long term health of our amazing vineyards up on Spring Mountain. This is to make clear the distinction between us and the ever-growing number of corporate owned labels that seem to be increasing every month.

I think consumers are more drawn to local small family businesses that produce ‘artisanal’ products versus mass-produced pieces of mediocrity. In addition to that a strong advantage we have in being smaller is that we have the ability to quickly adapt to challenging conditions and make decisions effectively in real time.

This was showcased quite clearly during the 2015 harvest. We had been selling some Cabernet grapes to the Martini Winery in St. Helena beginning in 2012. Martini had been purchased by Gallo, the largest wine company in the world, a few years before. Martini was looking for some high quality mountain fruit for their Lot 1 Cabernet Sauvignon, the ‘Crown Jewel’ of the Gallo wine world, so they approached us and I said yes.

We started selling fruit as a cash flow hedge in 2002 and even after the cash flow needs no longer existed I still enjoyed selling some fruit to different small wineries just for the collaborative aspect of it. And when Gallo approached us I was interested in the possibility of learning something from them, as I knew they were so strongly science driven and we are more sensory driven.

Harvest 2015 was quite confusing. We had low yields due to the light May rain that caused disruption of flowering and hence a smaller crop. Then we had some pretty warm temperatures, which usually meant a quicker and less ideal ripening but this year the ripening by taste was quite slow. And to make matters more confusing the numbers that Matt would get from his samples didn’t match our sensory analysis, they were moving even slower. I remember telling Matt that I always tell people we pick primarily on tasting the grapes and not the numbers and that this year we were really going to have to walk that talk.

We ended up picking at lower sugars than we ever had because we really trusted our palates and other senses. On the other hand Gallo waited another 3 weeks to pick because they were locked into hitting their numbers. The wine we made from our fruit is spectacular; the 2015 Reserve Cabernet has almost a sparkling fountain of youth type of energy to it and is a wine that I am extraordinarily proud of. Conversely, the wine Gallo made from their later harvest decision was lifeless and devoid of any positive qualities.

This harvest became a wonderfully validating experience and helped further our trust in our senses over science.

There is a lot of science that goes into making wine but there is also some art and maybe even a little bit of magic because when you can trust yourself and your abilities sometimes wonderful things happen!

Michael Keenan


Plentiful rainfall and a chilly winter and spring have forced the latest bud break and flowering seasons we can remember. The vineyards look beautiful though, lush and green with plentiful clusters and a massive canopy of shoots and leaves to support this year’s crop.

Early November presented dry windy conditions, but the last ten days of the month quenched the property with almost seven inches of precipitation. December weather kept things moist with lots of drizzle and occasional down-pours. Late December and early January were dry and warm allowing our cover crop to take root.

January 5th marked the beginning of numerous major storms that dropped record breaking 24 hour rainfall totals across California. February made January look tame! Over twenty-two inches of rain and snow fell on the Keenan estate during the month of February. March and April continued to provide hefty rainfall totals along with colder than average temperatures. It wasn’t until April 8th that our Chardonnay vines started pushing buds and showing green leaves – three weeks later than usual.

Today’s weather forecast shows hot days coming soon, and the vines are ready for it! We’ll see how fast the vines can catch up, but expecting a later than average harvest…

Matt Gardner

92 Points

Robert M. Parker, Jr. ,The Wine Advocate, October 2017

“Medium to deep garnet-purple colored, scented of fresh plums and mulberries with delicate exotic spice and potpourri nuances plus a waft of underbrush, the 2015 Merlot Mailbox Vineyard Spring Mountain Reserve is full-bodied with good intensity of fruit and chewy tannins in the mouth, with a long, earthy finish.”

95 Points

Antonio Galloni, Vinous, March 2018

“The 2015 Merlot Reserve Mailbox Vineyard is fabulous. Deep, rich and exquisitely layered, the 2015 is all class. There is a level of translucence in the 2015 that is captivating. At the same time, the wine possesses striking persistence and delineation. Dark cherry, sweet tobacco and floral notes that add lift through to the finish. The Mailbox is one of the most compelling Merlots being made in Napa Valley. Don’t miss it.”

Have you signed up for the
Medieval Treasures River Cruise
this November 2019,
with Michael and Jennifer Keenan yet?

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.

, beginning at 11 am on Saturday June 15th.

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 June 10th.

Please note: we will be capping attendance this year at 300 guests.




Robert M. Parker Jr., The Wine Advocate, 1/2019
91 Points: “The 2017 Chardonnay gives fragrant jasmine, honeysuckle, white peaches and clotted cream on the nose with an almond croissant and beeswax undercurrent. The palate is medium-bodied, elegant, fresh and satiny textured with a long and fragrant finish.”


Robert M. Parker Jr., The Wine Advocate, 10/2017
92 Points: “Medium garnet-purple in color and composed of 100% Merlot, the 2015 Merlot offers a plums, blackberries and dried flowers- scented nose with touches of mossy bark and garrigue. Showing good expression in the medium-bodied mouth with plenty of plumy fruit, it finishes long and spicy.”


Robert M. Parker Jr., The Wine Advocate, 10/2017
92 Points: “Produced from 100% Cabernet Sauvignon and displaying a deep garnet-purple color and nose of expressive blackberries, blueberries and pencil shavings plus lovely dried leaves, rose hip tea and fragrant earth nuances, the 2015 Cabernet Sauvignon is medium to full-bodied in the firm, taut, energetic and lively mouth, with grainy tannins and along, earthy finish.”


Wine & Spirits Magazine, June 2019
93 Points: “Michael Keenan has grown a half acre of zinfandel at the entrance to his winery on Spring Mountain since 1998, later interplanti- ng it with a little alicante and carignane. In 2007, he planted 2.5 acres of a similar mix at the Point Vineyard on his estate. He found that when that latest planting came into production, it took his Napa Valley Zinfandel to a new level. Keenan harvests and coferments the fruit, then blends it with a little zinfandel from a parcel in Calistoga planted in 1956 and now farmed by his vineyard manager, Peter Nissen. The combination produces a bold and delicious wine, its intensity held within the dark charm and gentle grace of the tannins. Its plummy, silken fruit feels cool, fragrant and floral, lasting with bergamot notes and gamey spice. Decant it for grilled quail.”


Antonio Galloni, Vinous, December 2016
96 Points: “The 2014 Red Blend Mernet Reserve is a total knock-out. Firm, structured and vibrant, the 2014 bristles with energy. Striking mid- palate sweetness and overall depth add to the wine’s unmistakable per- sonality. Deceptive at first because of its mid-weight structure, the 2014 has more than enough pedigree to drink well for many years. The Mernet is equal parts Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon from the estate’s Spring Mountain vineyard.”


2017 Chardonnay Spring Mountain District

Keenan’s 2017 Chardonnay was hand harvested, de-stemmed, then gently pressed. The juice was fermented and aged in French and American oak barrels. The wine was left on the lees and the barrels were stirred weekly. No secondary, or malolactic fermentation was carried out, leading to the crisp, citrus character of this wine. The wine was bottled after approximately seven months of aging in the cellar.

The finished wine shows citrus, ripe pear and green apple in the nose. Hints of lush white peach are noticed as the wine opens up. The sur-lie aging has added richness and complexity, and a touch of toasty oak returns on the finish. Like all of Keenan’s wines, this Chardonnay is a food worthy wine whose crisp acidity and medium body will accompany a wide variety of cuisine.

2015 Merlot Napa Valley

The 2015 Keenan Merlot is composed primarily of Keenan Estate Merlot. Thirty two 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 ‘15 Merlot has been aged inthirty-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.

2015 Zinfandel Napa Valley

Keenan’s 2015 Zinfandel is made up of grapes grown primarily on Keenan’s Spring Mountain District estate. The Estate Zinfandel imparts structure, ripe black fruit and complex earthy nuances. Zinfandel grown in Calistoga makes up the remainder of the blend and supplies spice and briary red fruit aromas.

The finished wine shows intense black cherry and raspberry fruit in the nose, while hints of black pep- per and vanilla add complexity. This is a rich, full-bodied Zinfandel that will accompany a wide array of foods, but we suggest gamey meats, grilled as a great match for the Keenan Zin.

2015 Cabernet Sauvignon Napa Valley

The 2015 Cabernet Sauvignon is composed primarily of grapes grown on Keenan’s Spring Mountain District Estate; the remainder of the fruit was harvested from Pope Valley, a grape growing region located in the eastern portion of Napa.

The blend was assembled just before bottling. The Estate grown Cabernet imparts amazing concen- tration and remarkable structure, while the portion of Cabernet harvested from Pope Valley adds complex aromas and a balanced mid-palate.

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