Our Day at Kessler-Haak Vineyard

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Our Day at Kessler-Haak Vineyard

Postby Phil_Carpenter » Sat Jul 14, 2012 9:03 pm

While at 2012 Family Winemakers (Del Mar edition), I didn't have much time to taste. So when I met up with my good friend Michael Tou, I asked him,"Who's good?" "Kessler-Haak" he said. "Let's go!"

When we got there, the table was pretty busy. Dan Kessler poured me the lineup and I was very impressed. I gave him a card and said, we'll be in touch.

I shot Dan an e-mail and he was crazy enough to let the Carpenter clan come to the vineyard.

Needless to say, I was really excited for this visit. This vineyard shares a fence with Clos Pepe...Hilliard Bruce is on the right...and Gypsy Canyon is behind it. One of my favorite Chards (Liquid Farm) utilizes their chard fruit rather prominently. Met Dan at the house and he started the tour.

Kessler-Haak vineyard is a smidge under thirty acres, planted mostly to pinot noir. Chard is up a nice hill on the northwest parcel of the vineyard. The chard is located right next to the pond and is exposed to some elements. A lot of wind whips up there, and fights really low temps. All I know, the fruit is stressed. This chard is pretty special. Trouble is getting a lot of it!

As we walked down the hill to the pinot plots, I couldn't help but stop and just look around me. To the left, I could see Clos Pepe, across the street, Huber, to the right, the crazy manicured vineyards of Hilliard Bruce. Directly in front of me...Dan's amazing pinot vines.

Dan's vineyard has various elevations...but has some flats. From the hill, you can see where Dan has to fight off those frost warnings. It's bad of course when vines are burned...but it seems to be a good thing in the long run. The 08 Santa Rita Hills vintage suffered from terrible frosts, but have been drinking AMAZINGLY recently. I think this is the beauty of the Santa Rita Hills. Dealing with elements that are thrown at you on a daily basis to such fragile varietals.

As we were walking around, I realized that it's not just weather factors you have to deal with, but also the wildlife factor! I've heard of birds. But ground squirrels? Rabbits? Gophers that will leave vines looking like sharpened pencils when pulled from the ground?! MY GOD! I also made a note to myself...Christmas gift for Dan...a plaque that says, "Haak's Hawks". I counted no less than five hawks flying overhead. Them guys are helping with this wildlife factor!

Dan's vineyard is beautiful and has unbelievably picturesque views. Just sitting there and listening to the wind rustle through the vines, hear an occasional hawk cry...rather heavenly.

While we were walking around, Dan's family was preparing an unbelievable feast for us. Sat down at the table in the backyard and went through the lineup.

Dan is an amazing guy. Worked most of his life in the tech market, specifically with semiconductor fabrication technologies. An engineer at heart. Dan fell in love with wine and had a small vineyard he planted at his old house. Growing tired of the tech bizz and the politics, he decided to jump in with both feet. Dan completed the UC Davis Distance Learning Program, and away he went.

First in the lineup:

2011 Kessler-Haak Dry Riesling Lafond Vineyard
This wine was PERFECT after a nice sunny walk. Acid was great. A lot of stone fruit with some lime citrus. When it warmed up a bit, honeysuckle all the way. Really pretty wine.

2011 Kessler-Haak Rosé of Pinot Noir
Medium bodied beauty. The color is crazy! Great red fruit with a cucumber/melon zing. Really nice.

2009 Kessler-Haak Chardonnay
Alright, so when Dan said barrel fermented, barrel aged, I was expecting a buttery chard. Sure, you get the oak, you get the mature tropical notes with meyer lemon...but there was a beautiful acid streak running through it. Great wine.

2009 Kessler-Haak Pinot Noir
Medium+ body. Dark, yummy pinot. This one is an absolute crowd pleaser. Riper red and blue fruit play quite nicely.

2009 Kessler-Haak Clone 2A Pinot Noir
This one is in my wheel house. Lighter in color. Lean & mean I think I said. Spice, young red fruit, some earthy/lome. Loved this bottle.

2009 Kessler-Haak Turner Vineyard Syrah
I'm a sucker for cool climate syrah. This one fits the bill quite nicely. White pepper, smoke, grilled meats. LOVED this as much as 2A.

All in all, what an amazing day. Great walk in the vines and the wines were as good as the conversation. Love when meetings like this turn out so well. If you see a Kessler-Haak wine, BUY IT! Dan has some amazing prices on these wines to boot!

BIG thanks to Dan, Ellen, and the fam. You really rolled out the red carpet for my family and friends. To see some pics from the day, hit this link:

http://www.flickr.com/photos/21366009@N ... 565833296/

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Re: Our Day at Kessler-Haak Vineyard

Postby Steve Anderson » Sat Jul 14, 2012 10:14 pm


Excellent write-up and photos! Sorry I missed this one, but felt like I was there while reading this. Really enjoyed the K-H wines at Family Winemakers and hope to try them again soon.


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Re: Our Day at Kessler-Haak Vineyard

Postby LiquidFarm » Wed Jul 18, 2012 7:30 pm

SO glad you got up to visit with Dan and Ellen and get to know them, their vineyard and the wines a bit better. They are the salt of the earth for many reasons. The kind of people who when you say, "I know this is hair-brained and we so would not be offended if you say "NO!"....we, um, well - we would can't think of anywhere more special for us to be married in the world than where all the fruit came from in our first vintage. We really want to share this foundation and space with our family and friends..." - they come back with an "of course!" and the family decorated a netting device attached to their vineyard tractor that Dan drove to haul my brother and I up and over the hills to, backing up to the "aisle" in between two rows of vines we work with....We feel so lucky to have said "I do." there. From the start they were fully on board and did it out of the kindness of their hearts. The Kessler's are truly special and the wines are only going to continue getting better and better. They should be so proud for all they have accomplished in such a short period of time. We are so honored to know them and work with their incredible fruit.
Thanks Phil for spotlighting them!
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