I do so l-o-v-e a good local entrepreneurial story. More than a good story, I love a story with even sweeter people and the sweetest views of this great state of Oregon. And when there's good Oregon wine involved, well, that just brings the story on home, like the great folks at Keeler Winery.
Today I am delighted to introduce you to Keeler Estate Vineyard. I've written about them before, in my Girls' Weekend Wine Tasting Weekend Guide and Memorial Day Wine Tasting Guide, but am so excited to give you a closer look.
Chances are, upon stepping foot onto Keeler Winery, you'll meet co-owner Gabriele Keeler, whose smile is wide and heart is huge. She will instantly make you feel right at home; her enthusiasm for sharing their passion is infectious, and her kindness and warmth will win you over in a heartbeat.
We've been here three times since May, when the Keeler Estate Vineyard tasting room first opened to the public, and each time, she's personally taken guests on tours of the entire property, driving one of their ATVs. In the pic above, she is taking my husband and kids and a couple of friends on another tour.
The Keeler Winery story
In 1990, Gabriele and her husband Craig moved to the 200 acre property that is located in Amity, Oregon, just outside of Dundee. They had a vision, rolled up their sleeves, and got to work. They transformed land that was, at the time, taken over by blackberry bushes, rehabilitated and added onto some structures, and created new gathering spaces.
The result is a gorgeous, sprawling yet comfortable biodynamic vineyard full of gardens, water features, property wildlife, colorful structures, beautiful rows of beehives, and cozy tasting room.
Full of outdoor and indoor seating areas, this vineyard is kid AND dog-friendly. My whole family feels completely at home here. The kids love exploring the gardens, petting the vineyard dogs, watching the always amusing property ducks at the pond, and lounging in the gazebos.
There's even a large lookout space perfect for private events high above the vineyard, overlooking the property.
Keeler Estate Vineyard is a Certified Biodynamic, Organic, Sustainable, and Salmon Safe property. Basically, this means they farm and care for their vineyards and gardens free of synthetic fertilizers and pesticides according to international guidelines for environmental stewardship, social responsibility, and economic accountability. Their Salmon Safe distinction means their practices help protect Oregon’s important salmon watersheds.
And, this may be a little too Oregon native geeky for you, but their compost system is absolutely impressive. Most compost systems give off a (very) unpleasant odor, but the way that Keeler aerates their compost, you smell nothing at all. Nothing! It's the richest, most beautiful compost I have ever seen and not smelled (I told you it was a little Oregon geeky).
Gabriele (that's her pictured above) even got my 8-year-old to smell the non-smelly compost; even she was impressed! That's how you know we're raising an Oregon girl ;)
The gardens produce many of the delectable fruits and vegetables served at Keeler club member events and other events on the property. You can check out different events offered on their Facebook page.
Oh yes, and lest you think I forgot about the end product, these grapes produce some mighty tasty wines!
Keeler Estate released its first wines in 2011, so they are still very young wines and don't have much history to compare them to just yet. So far, I am enjoying what they've been producing!
The vineyard currently grows Chardonnay, Pinot Noir, Pinot Gris, and this year, they've also released a delicious Rosé. Priced between $22 and $38, Keeler wines are on par with nearby wineries. Personally, I enjoy their Rosé and Pinot Gris, and have savored one of their Pinot Noirs. For such a young vineyard, I believe Keeler has done a phenomenal job caring for these grapes in a way that produces wines that are competitive with the (many) neighbors in the surrounding Willamette Valley. I am so excited to continue to visit and watch their progress over the years.
In the meantime, you should definitely stop by for a visit, too! You just might fall in love with the property -- and the people -- just like my family and I did.
What to Drink: if it’s available when you go, try their Rosé. If not, try the 2012 Pinot Gris.
Tasting Fee: $15 per person; $10 is waived with the purchase of two bottles.
5100 SE Rice Lane, Amity, Oregon