Keller

Staking out the Petaluma Gap – Iconic Sonoma Coast Terroir


Pinot Noir and Petaluma. 40 years ago, the received wisdom was that California Pinot Noir would never achieve the subtle brilliance of Burgundy and that Petaluma, home to dairy and chicken farmers, was far too cold for vineyards. Funny how things change. Indeed, California Pinots get better each year, and Petaluma may one day soon produce the very best. And that future may not be far off if the young Keller Estate continues down the path it is following.  Keller Estate produces estate-grown Pinot Noir and Chardonnay (as well as Syrah and Pinot Gris) on a 650-acre property located southeast of Petaluma – near the borderline of the Sonoma Coast and Carneros AVAs. In these rolling hills, cooled by the fog that blows in through the Petaluma Gap as well as from San Pablo Bay, early ripening, “cool climate” grapes are the obvious choice. In the early 1980s, Arturo Keller, an auto engineer from Mexico, and his family founded the estate. They planted vineyards but sold the first vintages of Chardonnay to other wineries. Impressed by the quality of their fruit, they began making wine under their own label from 2000. Today every detail in the vineyards and winery is overseen by Arturo’s daughter, Ana, a trained bio-chemist.  Keller Estate’s vineyards are planted in soils that show all the complexity of being a former seabed. The complexity of the wines is enhanced further by the 9 different clones of Pinot Noir, 4 clones of Chardonnay, and 2 clones of Syrah planted in the vineyards. The wines are crafted carefully and naturally in a stunning gravity-flow winery.  But the key to understanding Keller Estate’s wines is their extreme cool-climate location. Though many vineyard areas in Sonoma and Napa Counties are cooled by fog and ocean breezes, in the Petaluma Gap the fog rolls in a bit earlier and out later; the temperature drops so rapidly, the grapes retain much more crisp acidity even as they ripen and develop rich, fruit flavors. Currently, the Petaluma Gap is within the Sonoma Coast AVA. But if the Kellers and other winegrowers continue to demonstrate the uniqueness of the microclimate and soils, it may become one in the future.

Wines from this Winery

2011 Keller La Cruz Vineyard Chardonnay

2011 Keller La Cruz Vineyard Chardonnay

Planted with some of Keller Estate’s oldest vines, the La Cruz Vineyard produces fruit forward wines with distinct minerality. Clonal variety endows the wine with floral aromatics and rich texture. While 2011 was cooler than usual and the harvest challenging at times, the vintage proved excellent for early-ripening varieties. While the cool temperatures produced grapes with naturally high acidity, the wine achieved softness and balance through barrel fermentation, sur lie aging and complete malolactic fermentation. The result is a complex, Burgundy-inspired Chardonnay, beautifully textured and defined by a creamy viscosity. 

Details
¥ 5,700
2012 Keller La Cruz Vineyard Pinot Noir

2012 Keller La Cruz Vineyard Pinot Noir

The La Cruz vineyard features a landscape of gentle rolling hills punctuated by the occasional strand of Eucalyptus. This was cattle country before its potential for sublime cool-climate wine was fully appreciated. Four clones of Pinot Noir (primarily Pommard) planted in the mineral-rich clay soils contribute to the complexity of this seductive wine. Each clone is harvested and fermented separately in order to compose a final blend that truly expresses the vintage. The excellent 2012 vintage produced a Pinot Noir that excites the nose, palate and mind with a compelling mix of fruit and floral aromas, as well as spice, mineral and earth in a richly textured wine.

Details
¥ 7,000