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Keefer Ranch: A Russian River Valley Treasure

Keefer Ranch vineyard is located near the headwaters of Green Valley Creek in Sebastopol. Marcy Keefer, a nurse, and her husband, Robert Keefer, a doctor who is now deceased, bought the property, a former apple orchard, in 1985. Planting started in 1988 and now consists of 40 acres of Pinot Noir and 10 acres of Chardonnay. The Pinot Noir clones are a mixture of Dijon 114, 115, 777, Pommard 5, Mariafeld (23), Wädenswil (2A), Swan and Calera. Keefer Ranch is now farmed by Marcy Keefer and her son Craig Strehlow who is also the winemaker.

Part of the Green Valley sub appellation of the Russian River Valley, Keefer Ranch vineyard is planted on Goldridge Loam which is particularly suited to Pinot Noir. The Green Valley is defined by fog and is usually the first area of fog intrusion through the Petaluma Gap and the last place the fog burns off, making it the coolest and foggiest part of the Russian River Valley.

For many years, Keefer Ranch has supplied grapes to notable Pinot Noir specialists including most recently, A.P. Vin, Failla, Freeman, Kosta Browne, Loring Wine Co., Pali and Siduri. Beginning with the 2006 vintage, Marcy and Craig launched their own Keefer Ranch label. They source from a newer 1-acre block planted to a Swan selection as well as some Pommard clone from elsewhere in the vineyard. The inaugural Pinot Noir was impressive as is the latest release.

2007 Keefer Ranch Green Valley of Russian River Valley Pinot Noir

14.2% alc., 243 cases, pH 3.45, $42. 9 day cold soak, 11 day fermentation, 20% whole cluster, aged 12 months in 25% new French oak. · A gently perfumed, ethereal style of Pinot Noir, very feminine in character, but not delicate in flavor. The nose is quite charming featuring crushed strawberries and raspberries, summer herbs and violets. Fresh and juicy raspberry juice in the mouth with some gregarious spice and marzipan. Soft and silky with powdery tannins and a refreshing edge on the finish. A perfectly composed wine with great purity of fruit. You will want to dance with this one.

Keefer Ranch Pinot Noir is sold through a mailing list and on the website at www.keeferranch.com. 707-829-5950. A new cult wine for pinotphiles in the know.

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