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California Wine, St. Helena
About Robert Keenan Winery and Vineyard
High in the Mayacamas Range, lies Robert Keenan Winery and vineyards. This area was first identified by Peter Conradi in the late 19th century when he planted 100 acres of terraced vineyard in Zinfandel and Syrah grapes. The Conradi Winery operated until Prohibition when the vineyards and winery fell out of use. In 1974, Robert Keenan purchased 180 acres of forest on the defunct Conradi Winery site. The winery was made operational just in time for the harvest of 1977. From that time on, Keenan has earned a great reputation for producing wines of intense character and renowned acclaim.
Keenan focuses on three varietals -- Chardonnay, Cabernet Sauvignon, and Merlot. It produces nearly 10,000 cases per year. While the beauty and history of the land are appealing, it is the richness of the soils that makes the hillside perfect for an estate winery. Three areas of hillside are planted with Cabernet, Chardonnay, and Merlot grapes. These hillside grapes first produced big, "monster" wines so popular in the late 1970s.
Chardonnay was the first Keenan wine released and it immediately established the winery as a leading producer of Chardonnay. The Cabernet grapes came into leaf and the resulting Cabernet vintages were immediate successes. The 1978 was voted the best California Cabernet of that vintage. The 1986 Cabernet was acclaimed as the 42nd best Cabernet in the world by Wine Spectator. In 1978, Keenan purchased a small volume of Merlot grapes as a way to also acquire some desired Chardonnay grapes.