OCWS Winery Webinar—Mineral Wines Winemaker

Friday, February 12, 2021 @ 6:30 pm

Via Zoom Webinar Platform

Brett met future wife Andrea Henkel in 1993 while working at the Ahwahnee Hotel in Yosemite Valley. Brett was not much of a wine drinker back then, but Andrea cured him of that, introducing him to red wine. Andrea’s family had just planted a small vineyard, and after Brett and Andrea were married in 1995, Brett decided to forgo his college studies for Hospitality Management and changed majors to Enology and Viticulture. As he worked his way through college, Brett continued to work as Sommelier and/or manager at several upscale restaurants while attending Fresno State University, earning his degree in Viticulture and Enology in 2003. Upon moving back home to the small gold rush town of Angels Camp, Brett assumed management of the family’s four acre Cherokee Creek Vineyard, which originally grew exclusively Merlot grapes. When a movie with an unmentionable name decimated demand for Merlot grapes, Brett grafted three acres of the vineyard to Roussanne, Viognier, and the specialty of the vineyard, Petite Sirah. These are the grapes that now define the Mineral Wines’ brand! For the first three years of business starting in 2012, wine tasting was offered on the patio overlooking the grounds of the estate. In winter, room was made to taste inside the barn among the barrels. It was a very small operation and has grown to now making about 1,800 cases a year.  

About the Winemaker—Brett Keller:

A Unique Philosophy of Winemaking:

Brett’s lovely wife Andrea loved to travel to the Napa Valley to taste the great Cabernets back in the day. She always encouraged Brett to make 3 or 4 wines that were always top quality, in the tradition of Caymus and Silver Oak. Brett’s answer to this was to make no less than a dozen different varieties, all small production between 40 and 150 cases of each. You will hear him say “I did not spend six years in college to only master a few wines—I worked to master every wine I could make!”  

Brett’s style of winemaking focuses on two things: First, EVERY wine must taste as the variety should. Therefore each wine has to be made in a way that the varietal character speaks loudly. Barbera should NOT taste like Zinfandel. This means that every wine must be made individually. Yeasts, barrels and different vineyards are selected for each variety according to what it will do for the characters of the wine. Many vintners just do not understand that to give wines their individual identity you cannot make them the same way with the same barrels, yeasts, and cellar treatment. 

The second key to the success of Mineral Wines is to make these wines distinctively California in style. California makes arguably the best wines in the world. In Calaveras County, we have a predictably long, dry harvest season which yields fully-ripe grapes with rich fruit flavors that make big, fruit forward wines. The thought is this … to make a great wine memorable it takes time. Yup, the longer you can taste it the better impressed is the wine lover. Big, rich wines that carry varietal character inherent to the grape are our specialty. 

Is it Science or Art?

One other thing, it takes an artist to make great wine. An artist has tools to make something beautiful. Whether a painter with their art palette of colors to mix and different media to make a beautiful painting—or a chef with their spices and different techniques to make great food. Science is the language of the art of making wine. Different yeasts, barrels, grapes, clones of grapes, climate change, smoke during harvest, viticulture practices, and too many more tools to mention all contribute to the essence of great wine. These all interact to make something beautiful, to create an experience like no other, when the fruit of the vine is crafted and nurtured to give pleasure in its enjoyment.


· 2017 Cabernet Franc $32

· 2016 Meritage $32

· 2016 Merlot $28

Log in to and use Promo Code OCWS20 at checkout for 15% off the tasting package above. Brett is also offering discounts as follows: 20% off for 6-11 bottles of current releases and 25% off for a case or more bottles purchased, including “Library” wines. All shipping is half-price. Remember, members will have to sign up on the OCWS website for the Winery Webinar to watch via Zoom. Buying the wines does not automatically sign you up for the webinar. If you have any questions, contact

We have adjusted the content of this presentation to three bottles. A five-bottle blending webinar viewed at multiple households online present certain challenges in judging the winner. Brett is creating a blending video available for future viewing and will be presenting a blending demonstration at a Courtyard Seminar at the OC Fair in the future.  

Cheers! Looking forward to seeing all of you online.

– Liz Corbett, Contributing Writer