Today we finished picking the 2022 fruit. That being said, we haven’t picked fruit for over two weeks. What does this mean? We picked all of our chardonnay, pinot noir, and pinot gris during August and September and only waited patiently for the syrah to finish ripening.
This year we are grateful that we had access to water for our vines as needed. After a mild summer, it surprised us when a heat wave around labor day weekend was predicted, forcing us to make decisions. Julien, our winemaker, tasted the grapes, made lab analysis, and decided to pick some blocks before and others after the heat wave.
WHAT HAPPENS TO GRAPEVINES DURING EXCESSIVE HEAT?
Grapevines shut down in excessive heat, halting maturation, and then restart once temperatures come down. There are always questions regarding the dehydration of the grapes and chemical imbalances. So there is as always gambling in farming.
We are pleased to report that the decisions have given us a wide array of flavors; things are slowly but surely fermenting in tanks and gently put in barrels for aging.
With the grapes harvest over, we now focus on our olive harvest: We are excited to see a bountiful crop. Our goal this year is to produce two different oils: A Spanish Olive Oil and a Tuscan Olive Oil. We’ll release them towards the end of the year and you'll be the first ones to know!
TYPICAL DIFFERENCES BETWEEN THESE OLIVE OILS
Spanish Olive Oil:
Tuscan Olive Oil:
I always say that there is plenty of bland olive oil out there, so we choose to make ours flavorful, which means paying attention to picking them when half the olives are green, and half have turned brown. Green olives have more flavor but less oil and brown ones have more oil. We aim for flavor and good extra virgin olive oil perfect for salads and dishes where you want to enjoy the oil’s taste and health benefits.
We’ll be back soon with a complete offering of seasonal wines for your festivities; until then, sip smartly.
When visiting Keller Estate and near the end of the winery tour, we walk our guests from the wine production facility, through the cave, and back to the tasting room. Lined up, we see a few hundred French oak barrels along the cave walls, many stacked two high. Here and there, one notices a few dozen stainless steel barrels, and the question has been asked: when and for what wines does Keller Estate use those barrels?
Stainless steel barrels have only been used for aging since the 1950s. Their use swept through Chablis and Europe, and across the US wine-making regions adding a new facet to the wine-making toolkit. The oak barrels in use for centuries adds oxygen, tannins, and layers of flavor to the wine during barrel aging. While that is desired for most red wines and many Chardonnays, those same flavors can overwhelm the taste of many white wine grapes. Stainless steel does not let any oxygen into the barrel, resulting in freshness and a crisp character to the wine. As the wine develops, it builds a more fruit-forward profile, both in aroma and taste.
At Keller Estate, we use French oak for our Pinot Noirs, Syrah, and most Chardonnays. For our Rose of Pinot Noir, Pinot Gris, and Oro de Plata Chardonnay, we choose to ferment in stainless steel tanks and age the wine mainly in stainless steel barrels, as it allows us to capture the essence of each varietal and the expressions of the estate.
Additionally, there are many advantages to using stainless steel barrels:
These advantages, along with our cool Petaluma Gap climate, contribute to light, fresh, crisp, and food-friendly wines.
On March 30th, our founder, my grandfather Arturo celebrated his 90th birthday! We had a wonderful weekend with family and friends celebrating a life well lived, shared stories and laughs, took many pictures and of course enjoyed wonderful wines. We dug into our cellar and brought out some of our most stellar wines for the celebration. Our choices for the day were the 2008 Precioso Chardonnay and 2014 Rotie, it made us happy to add a few more milestone vintages to his special day.
There's something to be said about drinking newly released wine, with its robust, fresh, and wild flavors exciting the palate. Although it is known that aging wines can bring out exceptional and nuanced flavors to the tasting and drinking experience, over 90% of wine is consumed within 48 hours of purchase. Yet, there is a wonderful things about aged wines, and there are several tasting room jewels from the Keller Family's Cellar we want to share with you.
HERE ARE SOME OF MY THOUGHTS ON ENJOYING AGED WINE:
Older wine needs to be carefully tended to have a successful experience. Once the wine arrives home and before you decide to open a bottle, it should rest for a couple of days, or longer, in a cool place, allowing the wine sediment to settle and cork to moist and expand.
The optimum temperature is the low 60 degrees when opening wine, as the wine will warm up in your glass.
Opening the wine can sometimes be difficult, as the cork may soften. Do not despair if the cork breaks apart, as you can pour the wine slowly through a filter or tight mesh strainer. Once the cork and foil have been removed, wipe the bottleneck clean. You will want to decant the wine carefully, pouring slowly and steadily, without stopping, into the decanter or large, clean container. Once you see the sediment in the neck of the bottle, stop pouring and discard the remaining wine.
THOUGHTS ON FOOD PAIRINGS….
Let's talk briefly about pairing food with aged wine: an easy rule is that young wines pair better with fast cooked meals, think grilled meats. When pairing for an aged wine, then choosing a slow-cooked food will make that wine shine. Beef Bourguignon, for a pinot noir, a seafood risotto for a chardonnay.
Winter is when we have a chance to forget about the vineyard for a few months. Plants go dormant, and pruning starts early in 2022. As it was to be, we had an atmospheric river come through Sonoma County in October, irrigating our vineyards and putting water in our ponds. We were, of course, very relieved.
However, a warm fall meant that the water reinvigorated the plants and didn't go straight to dormancy. It's December and to our surprise we have some beautiful magnolias in full bloom. Traditionally bloom happens between late January and March. We also are seeing some swelling of the vines; thankfully, it is now very cold, and hopefully, the vines will go dormant. I encourage you to look around, and you will notice these changes. We need to take notice and have a constant reminder to take action and combat global warming.
At Keller Estate, we will continue to review all our practices and establishing new goals to reduce our footprint. Our vineyard practices, infrastructure, bottling, we will do everything we can and invite you to take action too.
As we look forward to new beginnings, we invite you to check out our fun-filled calendar of in-person and online activities for 2022. Some classic favorites (our Harvest celebration and car rally are back). New are some fun activities that will make your day just a little more exciting with a glass of Keller Estate by your side.
I would like to take a moment and acknowledge the work of all our team. Javier Rascon started as Vineyard Manager in January 2021, and he had a brutal drought season. After nurturing and carefully tending to our vines, I know 2022 will feel like a breeze. Julien Teichmann continues to craft stellar wines and find new ways to improve our quality. The third critical member is Jose Cruz, our Hospitality Manager, whose passion for serving wine to our guests and creating a friendly hospitality team has made our Tasting Room a wonderful place to visit.
Together with their teams and the Keller family, we wish you happy holidays and a healthy, happy 2022.