At Keller Estate, we have two sources of water: ponds and wells. The priorities around here are: Humans, Animals, Vines, Olives and last but not least landscaping. Because of our proximity to the ocean, our soils and our wells tend to have a lot of minerals and there is hard, we use this water for house use. We have to buy all the drinking water, trust me, you do not want our well water in your coffee, but for all human activities we use this water.
Our rain water is collected, and we are thrilled to say that our ponds are completely full, the soil is saturated. However, this does not mean that we will irrigate the vineyards later, or less: Harvest 2017 will be determined by many factors such as the temperatures in March and April, more rain, summer. One of our ponds is specifically kept for wildlife preservation, so, we will continue to see birds using it throughout the year as a safe haven.
At this stage, what is concerning is that the pressure the water is exerting on our ponds is so much that we fear mudslides and possible damage to our ponds. Water is over flowing but we have a small crack on one curtain, which is alleviating some pressure. However, as rain continues to pour, we continue to worry.
For a long time now, we’ve taken our planted for granted and need to understand that the drought, followed by the massive storms, all are related to our habits as humans. Do not use more water than you need, check your toilets, plant drought tolerant plants, take a slightly shorter shower, question your winery how they save water.
I like to make ceviche because it has a WOW factor, but also its heathy, fresh and easy to do ahead of time. Feel free to experiment adding or deleting ingredients depending on who I am cooking for! I love pairing it with our Keller Estate “Oro de Plata” Chardonnay and hope you’ll enjoy it too!
- 1 pound fresh, skinless snapper, bass, halibut, or other ocean fish fillets, or even small shrimp, cut into 1/2-inch dice, into thin strips, feel free to experiment!
- 1 1/2 cups fresh lime juice
- 1 medium white onion, chopped into 1/2-inch pieces
- 2 medium-large tomatoes (about 1 pound), chopped into 1/2-inch pieces
- Fresh hot green chiles (2 to 3 serranos or 1 to 2 jalapeños), stemmed, seeded and finely chopped (you might want to cut the pieces a bit larger so people can pull them out!)
- 1/3 cup chopped cilantro, plus a few leaves for garnish
- 1 to 2 tablespoons Keller Estate extra-virgin olive oil
- 1 large or 2 small ripe avocados, peeled, pitted and diced + Tostadas, tortilla chips or saltine crackers, for serving
HOW TO MAKE THIS RECIPE
- In a 1 1/2-quart glass or stainless steel bowl, combine the fish, lime juice and onion. Use enough juice to cover the fish and allow it to float freely; too little juice means unevenly “cooked” fish. Cover and refrigerate for about 4 hours, until a cube of fish no longer looks raw when broken open. Drain in a colander.
- In a large bowl, mix together the tomatoes, green chiles, cilantro, olives and optional olive oil. Stir in the fish and season with salt, usually about 1/2 teaspoon. Add the orange juice or sugar. Cover and refrigerate if not serving immediately. Just before serving, gently stir in the diced avocado.
Remember I said you could do it ahead of time? The fish may be marinated a day in advance; after about 4 hours, when the fish is “cooked,” drain it so that it won’t become too tangy. For the freshest flavor, add the flavorings to the fish no more than a couple of hours before serving.
There are many ways to serve ceviche. Here are some of our family’s favorites: Place the ceviche in a large bowl and let people spoon it onto individual plates to eat with tortilla chips or saltines; spoon the ceviche into small bowls and serve tostadas, chips or saltines alongside; or pile the ceviche onto chips or tostadas and pass around for guests to consume on these edible little plates. Garnish the ceviche with cilantro leaves before serving.
This is true Mexican comfort food, always served after a party to ensure that all those fun drinks settle properly! Chilaquiles are essentially corn tortilla pieces that are fried, cooked in salsa, and sprinkled with cheese. They are often served for breakfast with eggs and a side of beans.
- 1 dozen corn tortillas, preferably stale, or left out overnight to dry out a bit, quartered or cut into 6 wedges
- Corn oil
- 1 1/2 to 2 cups red chile sauce or salsa verde*
- A few sprigs of epazote (optional)
- Cotija cheese or queso fresco
- Crema Mexicana or creme fraiche
- You can add sunnyside up egg or some roasted chicken
- Cilantro, chopped
- Chopped red onion
- Avocado, sliced or roughly chopped
Red chili sauce
Take 4 dried ancho chiles, remove seeds, stems, and veins. Heat chiles lightly on a skillet on medium heat to draw out their flavor. Put chilies in a saucepan, pour boiling hot water over to cover. Let sit for 15 minutes. Add chiles, 2 garlic cloves, 1/2 teaspoon of salt, 1 1/2 cups of chili soaking liquid to a blender. Hold down lid of blender tightly while blending, blend until completely puréed. Strain through a mesh sieve into a frying pan to make the chilaquiles.
Put 1 lb tomatillos, husks removed, into a saucepan, cover with water by an inch. Add 1 jalapeno, stems and seeds removed. Add 2 cloves garlic. Bring to a boil. Cook for 5 minutes until tomatillos have changed color and are cooked through. Use slotted spoon to remove tomatillos, jalapeno and garlic to a blender. Add a cup of the cooking liquid. Blend until completely puréed. Add salt to taste.
- In a large sauté pan, coat pan generously with corn oil, (1/8 inch), heat on medium high to high. When the oil is quite hot, add the tortillas, fry until golden brown. Remove tortillas to a paper towel lined plate to soak up excess oil. Sprinkle a little salt on the tortillas. Wipe pan clean of any browned bits of tortillas.
- Add 2 Tbsp oil to pan, bring to high heat again. Add the salsa and let salsa cook for several minutes. If you have a few sprigs of epazote, add them to the salsa. Then add the fried tortilla quarters to the salsa. Gently turn over the pieces of tortilla until they are all well coated with salsa. Let cook for a few minutes more.
- Garnish with cream, diced onions, cheese and avocado! Enjoy
At Keller Estate we’ve been growing grapes for 28 years (since 1989) and making wine for 16 years. All of our wines have always been 100% estate grown. For myself, and for our family, this is a source of great pride.
From the beginning, we decided we were only going to make wines from fruit that we could grow on our property. At the time, I don’t think we realized the commitment. It’s a little like having kids: you know they are going to be hard work, but reality always surpasses your imagination!
Sometimes when I see friends who buy fruit from different vineyards, I feel a bit of jealousy: they can go out and find the aromas and flavors they want! For us, we are stuck with ourselves. In order to make different wines, we need to look for the diversity within our vineyard. Sometimes, the different vineyard blocks and their clones are enough, however we have to be very specific on our pick dates, so that gorgeous fruit forward strawberry that we find in pinot noir clone 777, is just right. And then, we must make sure that the opulent 828 gets a bit more time to mature so that we get very intense, ripe cherry flavors. That my friends, is a luxury. From that luxury we begin to make wines just how we envision them. After that, winemaking takes its course, gently guiding the fruit through native fermentations and a gentle process until they arrive to the carefully selected barrels for that specific clone of pinot noir. The barrel must compliment the fruit, never overpower it. With time, we’ve learned, and each year we continue to fine tune this matchmaking.
I’m on my way back from a trip, and it is always good to come home. The wines, now are all resting, maturing, evolving, so we can all focus on making sure wines get to their new owners in time to celebrate the holidays and ring in 2017!
With Thanksgiving around the corner, now is the perfect time to talk about the importance of bees to our food supply. Most people aren't aware of the fact that 1/3 of the food they eat wouldn’t exist without honey bees and other pollinators! In order for a flower to turn into a fruit (anything with seeds on the inside—so this includes all sorts of things we normally think of as veggies, like cucumbers and pumpkins), it must be pollinated by a honey bee or other pollinator.
In order to spread awareness of how essential bees are to our food supply one of our generous sponsors, Whole Foods Market, created the image above. The first photograph shows a normal Whole Foods Market produce section, while the second shows the same section without all the produce that comes from plants dependent pollination (52% of the produce!) This image shows what supermarkets everywhere will look like if bees continue to die off at their current rate of 44% per year (up 3.5% from the 2014-2015 year!) Our diets will be severely restricted, and a lot of the nutrients we need to be healthy will be missing. Your Thanksgiving dinner will have no pumpkin pie, no cranberry sauce, and no green beans, and your stuffing will be missing a few key ingredients!
These photographs highlight the seriousness of the situation. We need to help the bees in order to help ourselves. This Thanksgiving, add bees in the list of things you're grateful for. If you're in the giving mood, you can always say "thank you bees!" by donating to Planet Bee Foundation, and helping us spread our message to thousands of children across Northern California. Keller Estate is proud to support Planet Bee Foundation and we hope you'll consider the bees too! Join us for our Honey Harvest 2016 and support the planet!
- Goat Cheese Rounds
- 1 ¼ cups fresh white breadcrumbs
- 2 tablespoons chopped fresh thyme
- 11 ounces fresh goat cheese, cut into 8 rounds
- 2 eggs beaten to blend
- ½ cup all purpose flour
- 4 tablespoons olive oil
- For the Vinaigrette
- 4 tablespoons champagne vinegar
- 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
- 1 small shallot, minced
- ½ cup canola oil (for a change, no Keller Estate olive oil: a less flavorful oil is needed to allow the walnut oil to shine.)
- ¼ cup walnut oil
- 8 cups mixed baby greens
- 2 heads Belgian endive, cut crosswise into ½-inch pieces
- 2 large ripe pears, peeled, cored, cut into ¼-inch-thick slice. Be sure to cut the pears at the last minute so they do not brown.
- 1/3 cup chopped and slightly toasted walnuts
Mix breadcrumbs and thyme in a pie tin. Season the four with salt and pepper, cover the goat cheese with the flour, then dip into the beaten egg and finally into breadcrumbs. The goat cheese can be breaded and refrigerated up to one day ahead of time.
Whisk the vinegar, mustard, and minced shallot in a small bowl to blend. Gradually whisk in ½ cup of canola oil, and the ¼ cup of walnut oil; season to taste with salt and pepper. Combine mixed greens, Belgian endive and pears in large bowl. Place the walnuts on a parchment lined sheet pan and toast in a 325ºF oven for about 10 minutes.
Heat the 4 tablespoons of olive oil in a skillet over medium heat. Working in batches, add cheese rounds to skillet and cook until crisp and brown on outside and soft on inside, about 2 minutes per side. In a large bowl toss the salad with salt, pepper and enough vinaigrette to coat the greens. Divide among 4 plates. Place 2 warm cheese rounds in center of each salad and sprinkle the walnuts over the top.
Last Tuesday I had the pleasure of hosting Reka Haros from Sfriso Winery in the Veneto. I met Reka back in February through a mutual connection. John Corcoran, the ever matchmaker thought we'd enjoy sharing our stories! As I met Reka, I realized that her vision of selling wine was not only fascinating but that wanted to think outside the box. After 16 years at the helm of Keller Estate, sometimes, it's hard to keep that fresh perspective, so meeting her was truly an inspiration.
With all the forecasts predicting a strong El Nino winter, Keller Estate increased the pounds of cover crop seeds by 50% to insure maximum coverage and to help eliminate soil erosion from the potential heavy rains. The winter conditions turned out to be ideal in all regards with constant light rains mixed with good sunshine. The cover crop stood 2 feet tall by December. Good steady rainfall from Nov-Jan gave the Petaluma Gap a great start in exceeding its normal rainfall. However, February was very dry and resulted in zero rainfall after all forecasts predicted the heaviest El Nino event ever. February recorded 17 days above 70 degrees, topping out with 82 degrees on the 15th. This unseasonably warm weather led to early warming of the soil and we saw our first bud break in the last week of February.
The rains reappeared in March to help reinvigorate the early growth of the vines. These March storms came with unusually cool northern winds and helped counter act the warm February with a more traditional growth cycle.
New additions to Keller Estate’s commitment to sustainable vineyard practices are 20 “Baby doll” sheep to graze within the vineyards. They help in promoting root growth in our cover crop to set nitrogen in the soil and help to reduce the need for roundup beneath the vine row. They also help to eliminate the need for mowing the cover crop, hence reducing our carbon footprint. Currently, the sheep are grazing in the Olive orchards because they still are tall enough to reach the tender grape shoots.
April has been a fantastic growing period with most of our vines increasing to 3 feet or more of canopy growth. All the vines within the Estate have responded extremely well to our ideal early growing conditions but along with that comes an early spray regiment. This is a welcome trade-off since our early sprays are gentle organic oils.
The weather in May has been slightly unpredictable with the presence of early bloom coupled with light rain. The addition of warm weather following the rain reduces the negative impact of rain during bloom which effects fruit set, as was the case in 2015.