Bill and Olga Keever’s boutique winery represents the shape of things to come in Napa County winery construction.
They operate a small, family-owned winery in the hills west of Yountville. They celebrated the first crush at their winery in 2006, but had been making wine since 2002 from their own grapes.
Their home sits on a hill. Down below is their wine cave, winery and tasting room, with estate vines beyond.
The property was once a five-acre horse ranch. The tasting room, with its two-story high windows and sweeping vistas of the valley below, was once a horse barn.
The couple like to say that they failed in retirement and that’s why they started a winery. For Bill Keever, it’s a bit of a homecoming. He was a graduate of Napa High School and picked prunes as one of his early jobs.
Before building their boutique winery, the couple took their grapes to a custom-crush facility. They have a permit to produce up to 10,000 gallons annually, but make only about 4,000 gallons a year.
“We have no desire to expand, maybe our kids will when we retire from the winery,” Olga Keever said.
Tastings and tours of Keever Vineyards & Winery are by appointment only. It is likely someone in the family will host visitors.
The Keevers’ adult children, Jason and Ashley, also work at the winery.
Jason is cellar master and laboratory manager, while Ashley is the office manager, works the tasting room and offers tours.
Bill and Olga Keever both retired from the telecommunications industry.
While living in Europe during the 1990s they began to appreciate fine wines, and dream of owning a small winery when they retired.
By 2003, both had retired, as Bill Keever wrapped up his career as the CEO of Vodafone’s Asia region.
Originally, they considered only growing grapes and selling to others, but soon decided they also wanted to become vintners.
“There was a lot of learning along the way,” Olga Keever said.
The Keevers said their experience has been made easier by surrounding themselves with good people in the industry.
They get advice from their vineyard managers at Barbour Vineyard Management.
For winemaking, they work with consulting winemaker Celia Welch, a rising star with several Napa Valley clients and recognition as Winemaker of the Year for 2008 by Food & Wine magazine.
Because their production is small, the Keevers don’t have to deal with warehousing their wines, which typically sell out before the next vintage is ready for release, Bill Keever added.
“And being a small production winery lets us pay attention to the details for producing ultra-premium wines,” Olga Keever said.