Over the weekend, inspired by a comment left in reply to a recent post by winery owner Ana Keller Wurtz, I visited Keller Estate, a 5,000 case (give or take) winery located just off the East side of Lakeville Highway, up Cannon Lane, outside of Petaluma.
From the bottom of Cannon Lane, I twittered, “There is no place more beautiful than Sonoma County today. Green, green, green, warm with blue skies. Visiting Keller Estate winery. #Bliss.”
I thought things were perfect until I drove up Cannon Lane, gaining elevation the entire time, and passed through the winery gates (I called from the call box at the third driveway up Cannon Lane and they were opened for me), drove up the vineyard drive, cresting a hill, and gained my first glimpse of Keller Estate’s winery.
The architectural detail was breathtakingly interesting.
Buildings that were more than functional, beyond attractive, these buildings possessed beauty.
I drove down the winery road, past the actual winery.
Keller Estate winery managed to improve what I thought was an already perfect day.
I drove past the storage buildings.
I drove past olive trees.
I felt safe parking near an antique Mercedes red firetruck.
The tasting room is centered in the back of a “U” shaped building, with a large plaza courtyard and a pergola in the foreground.
In the center of the courtyard is a sculpture of a race car with driver.
Passing inside through the tasting room doors, a bit of WOW in the form of a classic antique 1952 red luxury Bentley automobile.
Kit Cassidy, pro tasting room pour wrangler, waits to greet visitors.
At one point, Kit looked out the open tasting room door and shared that Keller Estate makes a lovely picnic spot now that glasses of wine are allowed to be sold by tasting rooms.
A picnic could be enjoyed just outside the tasting room at a table with chairs made from oak barrels.
I think a picnic lunch under the pergola with friends would be wonderful.
Mid tasting, Kit allowed me a peek into the cave that stretches from the winery to the tasting room for a photo opportunity.
My reviews, recaps, and features typically use a lot more words, but inspired by the beauty of the day I wanted to put all the pictures from Keller Estates up front. I was supremely pleased to be able to taste wines in such a setting. My pictures do not do the experience justice. The view from the Estate up the foothills of the Southern end of the Sonoma Mountain range is spectacular.
Keller Estate’s vineyards sit on 650 acres of Sonoma Coast appellation land in the Petaluma Gap of Sonoma County. Morning fog through most of the growing season allows both Pinot Noir and Chardonnay to thrive, and other wine varietal grapes to be planted and tried. Grapes were first planted in 1989, and were initially sold to other winemakers. Today, 1/2 – 2/3 of the 300 tons of each year’s grapes are still sold, but wine has been made at Keller Estate since the 2000 vintage.
Here’s the notes on all five wines I tasted:
2006 Keller Estate Chardonnay, Oro De Plata, Sonoma Coast, $26 - Zero malolactic, stainless steel fermented, neutral oak held. bright. Great apple and citrus fruit expression. Apple, peach, lemon, mineral mouth. Clean, tapering finish. Good acid.
2005 Keller Estate Chardonnay, La Cruz Vineyard, Sonoma Coast, $29 – Nice, not overpowering oak. Cheesecake (oven baked cream and vanilla) light toast (graham cracker and butter?) aroma. Apple fruit, pear, spice. Creamy butterscotch. Sweet oak. Nicely balanced package. Very drinkable.
2008 Keller Estate Viognier, La Cruz Vineyard, Sonoma Coast, $30 – Only 40 cases made. I confess, I get excited, going back to the 90′s when many Chardonnays suffered from the sameness of 100 malolactic fermentation and 100% Barrel Fermentation, when I see a Viognier. This Viognier has lovely honey suckle, orange blossom floral aromas. with light peach and apricot fruit flavor. Bright, crisp, lean and clean. A real treat.
2006 Keller Estate Pinot Noir, La Cruz Vineyard, Sonoma Coast, $42 – Flagship wine, 1,200 cases made. Sweet, warm, round, full cherry pipe tobacco aroma. Strawberry, leading to cherry fruit and light earthiness. Absolutely lovely. Delicious. Elegant and restrained. Supple.
2007 Keller Estate Pinot Noir, El Coro, Sonoma Coast, $52 – 300 cases. Magic. Deeper, earthier cherry from a softer, more subtly textured wine. Nice floral and spice, woody notes. Lush cherry mouth. Good natural acidity.
2004 Keller Estate Syrah, La Cruz Vineyard, Sonoma Coast, $36 – This wine is held longer, released later, and the result is an age mellowed Syrah with round soft tannin and black fruit. Blackberry, leather, cocoa, tannin. Sweet oak. Another delight.
About an hour after I arrived at Keller estates, I twittered,”Wow, Keller Estate winery is a mindblowingly gorgeous showpiece hidden gem of a winery, and every wine I tasted was delicious.” While I expected to love the 2007 El Coro, and I did, I was surprised to love the 2006 La Cruz more – perhaps a case of age before beauty? I was thrilled to taste six wines, each different, but all thoroughly enjoyable. I would love to have these wines at hand to pair with foods.
I will return, and bring visiting friends. I am thrilled to have found Keller Estates. When I return, I would love to taste the 2006 Prescioso Pinot Noir and the Estate hand-picked, cold-pressed olive oil.
Keller Estates will be pouring their wines to pair with the slow food movement dishes of Petaluma restaurant Central Market on Tuesday, March 16 from 6-8 PM. Well worth the drive from anywhere within Sonoma County, this is a great opportunity to taste these great wines paired with good friends while sharing delicious foods.
Alternately, the Keller Estate tasting room is open Thursdays through Sundays from 11 AM – 4:30 PM. The address is 5875 Lakeville Hwy., Petaluma, CA 94954; and the phone number is (707) 765-2117.