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Arturo Keller’s interest in wine began modestly, with him making wine originally for just his friends and family. He was an automotive engineer from Mexico City, but his continued passion for wine led him to purchase 650 acres in the southeast corner of Sonoma County on the eastern edge of the Petaluma Gap overlooking the Petaluma River in 1989.
With the assistance of noted viticulturist and winemaker Ted Lemon and the staff at University of California at Davis, 86 acres of vines were planted beginning in 1989 with 9 different clones of Pinot Noir, 4 clones of Chardonnay, and 2 clones of Syrah. Lemon helped with the selection of plant material and the layout of the vineyards. The location of the La Cruz Vineyard is 20 miles from the Pacific Coast, but the fog reaches the vineyard on many days.
A modern winery was built under the direction of well-known architects Victor and Ricardo Legorreta and the winery founded in 2000. The walls of the winery are crafted from ancient limestone from the 3 Gorges Dam project in China. The first vintage was 2003.
There have been a succession of notable winemakers, and the current man in charge is Alex Holman. The viticulturist is Steve Mathiasson. Ana Keller, the daughter of founder Arturo Keller, has brought the winery to the forefront of Petaluma Gap wine producers, and is actively involved in the viticulture and winemaking as well. She first joined the winery in 1998, about the time the family was deciding to make their own wines.
The estate's special Pinot Noir is named El Coro, sourced from a windy 20-acre vineyard site with volcanic, iron-rich soils that lies at the top of one of the estate's hills. Originally planted in 2000 to six different clones, the vineyard spacing was later tightened to 4' x 6' spacing. The first El Coro vintage was 2007.
Keller Estate, the largest winery in the Petaluma Gap, is located at 5875 Lakeville Hwy. Seated tastings available Friday-Sunday from 11:00 to 4:00. Special tours, barrel tastings, and events can be arranged by phoning the winery at 707-765-2117. The wines can be purchased on the website and they offered through wide retail distribution. I have been told that there is also an extensive collection of vintage cars at the Estate. Annual production is 5,000 cases per year of estate-grown Pinot Noir and Chardonnay, as well as tiny amounts of Viognier, Pinot Gris, Syrah and sparkling brut.
2013 Keller Estate Oro De Plata Sonoma Coast Chardonnay
14.1% alc., pH 3.57, TA 0.63, 811 cases, $33. The name Oro De Plata translates to “Gold from Silver.” Backbone of this wine is Block 6 planted to Wente clone in 1998. Some Block 5 Wente 4 clone and another block planted to Robert Young clone add to the mix. Fermented in stainless steel and aged 8 months in neutral French oak barrels. No malolactic fermentation. · Light lemon yellow color in the glass. Reserved aromas of lemon, nori, tropical fruits and nutty oak. Smooth and slightly creamy on the palate in a button-up yet pleasing style with flavors of citrus and pear fruits. Refined and polished, with oak unplugged. A food magnet wine. Score: 92. Reviewed November 30, 2016 ARTICLE »
2013 Keller Estate La Cruz Vineyard Sonoma Coast Chardonnay
14.1% alc., pH 3.59, TA 0.607, 818 cases, $38. The winery’s flagship Chardonnay. Barrel fermented with native yeasts and aged on the lees. 100% malolactic fermentation. Wente and Robert young clones. Aged 11 months in French oak barrels, 25% new. · Light lemon yellow color in the glass. A lot to discover in the nose, with aromas of tropical fruits and flowers, buttery brioche, lemon oil, coconut water and seashell. Fruit flavors of pineapple, guava, lemon are mixed with butterscotch and graham in this well-composed wine with integrated acidity and a clean, uplifting finish. Score: 91. Reviewed December 1, 2016 ARTICLE »
2013 Keller Estate La Cruz Vineyard Sonoma Coast Pinot Noir
13.9% alc., pH 3.63, TA 0.57, 817 cases, $45. Primarily Pommard clone. Tight vine spacing and low yields from the estate vineyard exposed to the strong winds and fog of the Petaluma Gap. · Moderately light reddish purple color in the glass. Well-composed aromatic highlights including cherry, raspberry coulis, and brioche. Mid weight flavors of black cherry, black raspberry, spice and a hint of complimentary oak in the background. Forward drinking and easy to like, with good balance and a stately elegance. Score: 90. Reviewed December 1, 2016 ARTICLE »
2013 Keller Estate El Coro Sonoma Coast Pinot Noir
14.2% alc., pH 3.62, TA 0.587, 396 cases, $52. The El Coro Vineyard is high on a ridge top. The name translates to “The Choir” in Spanish. The site is windy with extreme growing conditions and planted to extensive clonal variation. 6 clones including “828,” 667, 115 and a La Tache selection that creates the backbone of this wine. Aged in French oak barrels, 27% new. · Moderately light reddish purple color in the glass. Very seductive aromas of dark cherry, exotic spices including cardamom and refined oak. Silky and elegant, with a mid weight thrust of engaging black cherry, blackberry and spice flavors with a subtle earthy tone and a touch of umami. Good tannic bones and a lasting, powerful finish complete the experience. Score: 93. Reviewed December 1, 2016 ARTICLE »
2013 Keller Estate Precioso Sonoma Coast Chardonnay
14.1% alc., pH 3.58, TA 0.607, 69 cases, $75. A barrel selection from the excellent growing season in the Petaluma Gap. 100% malolactic fermentation. Aged in French oak barrels, 35% new. · Light lemon yellow color in the glass. The nose reminds me of a day at the beach with aromas of sand and fresh salt air. There is also fruit notes of lemon and pineapple, and even a hint of plumeria. Impeccably crafted, fresh and clean like the ocean in Maui, with flavors of citrus, tropical pineapple, white peach and a hint of oak in the background. The genteel texture is a very captivating feature as well. Mahalo. Score: 95. Reviewed December 1, 2016 ARTICLE »
2013 Keller Estate Precioso Sonoma Coast Pinot Noir
14.2% alc., pH 3.63, TA 0.57, 70 cases $75. A special barrel selection from the 2014 vintage. 100% de-stemmed, aged in French oak barrels, 35% new. · Moderately light reddish purple color in the glass. A sophisticated offering with seeking aromas of dark cherry, blueberry, mushroom, underbrush and oak spice. A delicious array of darker fruits greats the palate with aplomb, expanding in the mouth and lasting like what seems 30 seconds on the finish. Perfect harmony, a deft touch of oak spice, and an earthy, savory bent that adds interest. Texturally very interesting, featuring dry, suede tannins that predict age ability. A regal offering that will please any Pinot connoisseur. Score: 94. Reviewed December 1, 2016 ARTICLE »
2011 Keller Estate El Coro Sonoma Coast Pinot Noir
14.2% alc.. · Moderately light reddish-purple color in the glass. Similar to the 2010 vintage, but lighter in weight, offering a fruitier nose and featuring redder fruit flavors such as cherry and raspberry. The acidity is more evident, but the wine has the same complimentary spice notes. A young wine, showing more oak than it will with more bottle age, but the solid tannins and lively acidity predict a great drinking experience down the road. Very good. Reviewed June 23, 2013 ARTICLE »
2011 Keller Estate La Cruz Vineyard Sonoma Coast Pinot Noir
14.1% alc., 908 cases, $45. Aged in 30% new French oak barrels. · Moderately light reddish-purple color in the glass. The aromas are equally enticing to the 2010 vintage, but offer darker cherry, blueberry and plum scents. More body and concentration with dark cherry and more berry flavors complimented by spice and oak. Still young, the wine needs time to integrate the oak and achieve balance. Good to Very good. Reviewed June 23, 2013 ARTICLE »
2010 Keller Estate La Cruz Vineyard Sonoma Coast Pinot Noir
14.2% alc., $45. · Moderately light reddishpurple color in the glass. Aromas of lean red fruits with a subtle green herb note in the background. The flavors echo the nose. Light, soft and smooth. Decent. Reviewed April 13, 2013 ARTICLE »
2010 Keller Estate La Cruz Vineyard Sonoma Coast Pinot Noir
14.2% alc., 800 cases, $45. Just released. Aged in 30% new French oak barrels. · Moderately light reddish-purple color in the glass. Very aromatic with bright scents of cherries, strawberries and rose petals. Elegant and silky, with moderately intense flavors of red cherries and berries with a hint of spice and a slight confected tone. The tannins are very supple and the finish is refreshing. Good to Very good. Reviewed June 23, 2013 ARTICLE »
2010 Keller Estate El Coro Sonoma Coast Pinot Noir
14.2% alc., $52. This is the sibling wine to the Keller Estate La Cruz Vineyard Pinot Noir. The grapes are sourced from a highly elevated block on a ridgetop which is more exposed to the maritime winds. Soils are thin loamy clay with a volcanic underlay. Unfined and unfiltered. · Medium reddish-purple color in the glass. Lovely perfume of dark red cherries and berries that really draws you into the glass. This is a wine of character and nuance offering something different with each sip including deep cherry flavor with hints of savory herbs and oak. One of the most memorable wines I tasted at this event. Exceptional. Reviewed April 13, 2013 ARTICLE »
2010 Keller Estate El Coro Sonoma Coast Pinot Noir
14.2% alc., 465 cases, $52. Aged in 30%-35% new French oak barrels. · Medium reddish-purple color in the glass. A serious, highly pleasurable wine offering aromas of dark berry jam, plum reduction sauce and spice. Mid weight flavors replicate the nose. Full of nuances and beautifully crafted with everything in place. Hard to adequately describe some of the unusual flavors. My notes say, “Crazy about this!” Exceptional. Reviewed June 23, 2013 ARTICLE »
2010 Keller Estate Precioso Sonoma Coast Pinot Noir
14.3% alc., $75. A barrel selection representing the best of the estate in the vintage. · Medium reddish-purple color in the glass. Very aromatic with hi-tone scents of red berries on the vine and sandalwood. Very soft and gracious in the mouth with delicious flavors of dark red and purple berries clothed in soft tannins and offering noticeable length on the finish. Exceptional. Reviewed April 13, 2013 ARTICLE »
2007 Keller Estate La Cruz Vineyard Sonoma Coast Pinot Noir
14.1% alc., pH 3.49, 510 cases, $44. From the Petaluma Gap region of the Sonoma Coast. Harvested, vinified and bottled on site. Multiple clones including Pommard, Dijon 115, 123, 667, 777, 828 and Swan selection. The fruit was de-stemmed and fermentations were driven by native yeast. Only free-run wine was included. Aged 10 months in 35% new French oak barrels. · Marvelous nose with complex aromas including strawberries, raspberries, savory spice, and oak vanillin. A medium-bodied wine that is gentle and soft in the mouth with flavorful red cherry and berry fruits enhanced by loamy accents and a tangy finish of moderate length. Drinking perfectly now. Very good. Reviewed June 22, 2010 ARTICLE »
2007 Keller Estate El Coro Sonoma Coast Pinot Noir
14.1% alc., pH 3.45, 309 cases, $52. Released in December 2009. The inaugural El Coro bottling. the name “El Coro,” translates to “the choir” in Spanish and refers to a set of sandstone sculptures of a choir that sing at the foot of the vineyard. This 20-acre block is on a ridge top exposed to winds and has thin loamy and clay soil with a volcanic subsoil. Clones include Dijon 667, 777, 828, suitcase and Swan selections. · This is a more masculine expression of the Keller Estate. Lovely perfume of crushed berries, spiced plums, dark roses and tea. Darkly fruited with many layers of interesting flavors including notes of savory herbs, earth, minerals and citrus peel. Structured with ripe tannins and well balanced acidity. A more serious and more complex offering than the Estate bottling that will reward cellaring. Drink the Keller Estate Pinot Noir while this one gains in charm over time. Reviewed June 22, 2010 ARTICLE »
2004 Keller Estate La Cruz Vineyard Sonoma Coast Pinot Noir
14.3% alc., $30. · This Pinot Noir is darn near perfect. The nose is sweet-scented with violets, crushed cherries and a hint of oak. It is soft as a down pillow and the flavors deliver the whole Pinot experience. Nicely balanced. Maybe the mid palate and finish could have more oomph, but this is being picky. This Pinot was especially good with grilled King salmon with green goddess sauce. Reviewed January 15, 2007 ARTICLE »