By Annie Sliman
From the very beginning of my interest in Napa Valley wineries, I had wanted to visit Keever Vineyards. From my research, I knew a little about the family story and something about the winery’s incredible location and its famous cabernet sauvignon. Last but not least, I’d gotten to know the sweet lady of the winery, Olga, who always happily took my calls and answered all my questions. When we were finally able to visit Keever, Olga happened to be away, but her lovely daughter Ashley spent a couple of hours with us and shared more of their family story.
The family lived in California and then Germany. Ashley’s parents were working in the telecommunications industry, but they spent all their free time traveling to the famous wine regions of Italy, France and Spain. When they moved back to California, Ashley’s mother and father decided to purchase property in Napa Valley and grow grapes. “That’s when things really exploded,” Ashley said. “My mother refers to their wine adventure as progressive insanity.”
Keever Vineyards is absolutely a family business. “We are such a small operation that everyone wears multiple hats,” according to Ashley. She and her mother, Olga, work together in the office and give tours and tastings. Her father, Bill, serves as what they laughingly call the CFO, or chief forklift operator, during harvest and does a little of everything else throughout the year. Her brother, Jason, supervises the production line and harvest crew during the grape harvest. The rest of the year, he is in charge of wine production, the laboratory and the cellar to make sure the winemaker’s instructions are carried out. Of course, he’s also Keever’s IT person and has responsibility for its regular employees.
Ashley started working in the family business in early 2009. After getting her start in San Francisco’s hospitality industry, she moved to Napa Valley to help with the opening of Yountville’s Bardessono Resort and Spa. One day, her mother told her that she was going to place an ad for an office assistant to help with the growing Keever Winery business. Ashley responded, “What time do you want me to show up for work?” But come harvest time, it’s all hands on deck, and Ashley is at the sorting tables along with everyone else.
During the growing season, Ashley loves to walk the vineyards and check the stages of the vines. The grapes they grow go into Ashley’s favorite wine, which happens to be mine as well, the flagship Keever Cabernet Sauvignon. They have been making this lovely wine since 2002, when their winemaker, Celia Welch, joined the team. “We feel honored to have her as our winemaker,” Ashley raved. “Her palate, nose and winemaking skills are incredible.” Welch helps create the two other varietals that Keever Vineyards specializes in, a sauvignon blanc and Inspirado, which is a red blend.
We sipped Keever’s wines while we enjoyed the breathtaking views from the tasting room’s two-story window. The view encompasses Wappo Hill, with the Stag’s Leap rock formation, all the way to the valley floor with Yountville and beyond. It’s simply gorgeous. See and sip for yourself when you visit Napa Valley. Keever Vineyards is located at 26 Vineyard View Drive, on the west side of Highway 29. The telephone is 707.944.0910 and the website is keevervineyards.com.