Keever Vineyards

Keever Vineyards

Keever Vineyards is nestled in the western slopes of Yountville, California in the Napa Valley. It is a family-owned and operated winery, producing exquisite Cabernet Sauvignon from the family’s six acres of rocky, hillside vineyards. On July 14th of 2006, Keever Vineyards celebrated the completion of the winery with an open-house party for family and friends. Since then, visitors have been coming to the winery to sample the incredibly elegant Cabernet Sauvignon and to experience a private tour of the winery and cave and the beautiful site.

Bill Keever enjoyed a long and successful career in the telecommunications industry before retiring at the age of 57 to become a grape grower and vintner. He was the Chief Executive Officer of Vodafone Asia Region, a wireless telecommunications company, when he retired at the end of June 2003. Olga, who also worked in telecommunications, retired in 1998, while they were still living abroad. With Olga’s retirement at hand and Bill’s not far off, they began thinking about where they’d like to spend the rest of their lives and what they’d like to be doing.

They spent the 1990’s living in Europe. They and their children (Jason then 13, and Ashley then 7) moved to Dusseldorf, Germany from California in 1990. Jason returned in the fall of 1995 to attend the University of California at San Diego. The rest of the family remained in Germany until January 1st of 1999. They then moved to The Netherlands and finally returned to California at the end of July in 1999.

Living in Germany and The Netherlands presented incredible opportunities for travel and they took advantage of them whenever possible. Their love of wine began in Germany where wines from all over Europe were plentiful and reasonably priced. There were not many bargains available in Germany but wine, beer, and cut flowers were the best deals they’d ever seen. Their exposure to good wine increased with every vacation and weekend get-a-way to Italy, Spain, France, and Portugal.

Thoughts of retirement lead to thoughts of home. For Bill, who graduated from Napa High in 1963, the Napa Valley was a logical choice. While he only lived in the Napa Valley during his senior year of high school, his family lived in the area for ten years and he returned again and again during college vacations and military leaves. When they began speaking about and dreaming about growing grapes, the Napa Valley called out to them. They have never looked back and are so very thankful they answered the call.

Born and raised in Medford, Oregon, as the daughter of an avid wine collector and enthusiastic home winemaker, Celia Welch had an early introduction to both wine appreciation and the basics of winemaking. Realizing that professional winemaking would combine her early fascination with flavors and aromas, her strengths in science and her love of the rural lifestyle, she decided to attend the University of California at Davis and study Enology; the study of winemaking. She earned her B.S. degree in Fermentation Science in 1982.

After graduation, Celia extended her education by traveling throughout the winegrowing regions of the Northwest and the East Coast of the United States, New Zealand, and by working in Australia's Barossa Valley. Upon returning to the Napa Valley, she spent several years assisting in wine production on Mount Veeder and in the Carneros. She joined Silverado Vineyards in 1987 to design, implement and supervise a quality control program. In 1991, she became the assistant winemaker at Robert Pepi Winery and in 1992, began consulting for Staglin Family Vineyard, a small, ultra-premium Cabernet Sauvignon producer. She left Robert Pepi Winery in 1995 to pursue her consulting career, and has acted as an independent winemaking consultant since that time.

We feel our vineyards are very special. That doesn't make us unique in the grape growing business because we all love our dirt! We are enchanted by our vineyards because they really are nestled into the hillsides and are growing in loamy, well-drained soil that’s more rock than anything else. One of the vineyard managers suggested that we engage in hydroponics farming – rocks, water, and roots but no soil!

We were severely restricted as to how many acres of our property we could plant because of the sloping hills that make up much of it. The first one and one-half acres that we planted soon after buying the property had been horse corrals and a riding arena and those flat surfaces had been cut into the hillsides long ago when such undertakings were not regulated or monitored. It’s a different story today and we were required to submit an erosion control plan for everything else we wanted to plant. Ultimately, we were allowed to plant another three and one-half acres when we had wanted to plant seven.

The vineyard blocks wind in, out and around our property, tucked here, there and everywhere possible. It makes for a wonderful walk starting at the top at about 300 feet above the valley floor. Separating our older blocks from the newer ones is a wildlife corridor that spans our property. It allows deer to move from a neighboring farm to the south across our property to a large stand of oak trees at the north end. The walk down is a relatively easy and interesting stroll but the walk back up is a definite cardio workout!

In addition to the six acres of Cabernet Sauvignon, we planted one-third of an acre of Cabernet Franc but we just recently planted it over to Sauvignon Blanc. We plan to make an estate Sauvignon Blanc to complement our rock-star red, the 100% estate Cabernet Sauvignon. The Cabernet Sauvignon consists of four clones and two different rootstocks. Each was chosen specifically for the block(s) where it is growing. We are very pleased with the planting decisions made by our vineyard management company, Barbour Vineyards, and the wonderful fruit that is being produced. The best news of all is that it is only going to get better!