Matt Gardner graduated from Cal Poly, San Luis Obispo with a degree in Ag Business and Fruit Science in the spring of 1994, and worked his first grape harvest later that fall at a small family---owned winery in the Santa Cruz Mountains. He was offered a position at Keenan Winery in December of 1994, and spent the next two decades learning about the unique advantages and challenges associated with growing premium grapes and making wine on Spring Mountain. Today, Matt's expert knowledge of the region's terroir is indispensable to the ongoing success of Keenan Napa Valley Wines.
During his early tenure at the winery, Matt was instrumental in working with Michael Keenan to replant the majority of the estate vineyards established in the 1970s. Although he admits it was a painful process, he supported Michael's decision to remove diseased grapevines, replacing them with new, more appropriate rootstock, applying soil conservation techniques such as legume and grass cover crops, row orientation, and efficient irrigation. Today, all 48 acres of the Keenan estate Napa Valley vineyard have been replanted, and as Matt explains, "We're managing the hillside in a healthier way now, picking when the grapes are a little more ripe-and the superior quality of the fruit translates into more naturally produced wines. We take a 'hands---off' approach and allow the flavor of the fruit to shine through."
Matt works directly with owner Michael Keenan and cellar master Randy Kewell as part of the winemaking team effort at Keenan Winery. He shares in harvest duties such as grape sampling and essential lab work, collaborates with Michael on picking decisions each harvest, and also participates in crucial blending trials. Matt is also the first contact at the winery for small group of well---respected grape growers supplying premium fruit for the superb Keenan wines produced from prime wine vineyards throughout Napa Valley Wineries.
As general manager, Matt is responsible for overseeing the smooth operation of Keenan Winery, including administrative, sales and distributor contact, managing vineyard operations, cellar and winemaking logistics, inventory control, budgeting and finance. He is also responsible for managing the popular Keenan Wine Club and working with hospitality manager Laura March on exclusive offerings to wine club members.
Matt is married and lives on the Keenan Spring Mountain estate (very short commute!) with his wife, Shari. They have two children; daughter, Maddie, and son, Ben. When Matt's not hard at work managing Keenan Napa Valley Winery, he and his family enjoy fishing in the Sierras and spending time on the scenic Sonoma---Mendocino coastline.
Robert Keenan Winery produces nearly 14,000 cases per year. The reputation of the Keenan Merlots was solidified in 1988 when tastings of the Keenan Merlots against the world famous Petrus wines (Merlots) resulted in a virtual draw.