Neu Cellars

We met John Keller in the parking lot at Third Coast Soif when he was just getting started and were instantly blown away by how unique and natural his wines tasted. John used to work in a lab at Ravenswood in CA but wasn’t into industrial winemaking so he quit and started the Neu Cellars project with his Dad. Neu in German means new, fresh, or young and all his fruit hails from the Old Mission Peninsula. In the cellar, everything is fermented spontaneously and there are zero additions or subtractions. If there was an ingredient list on the label, it would read simply– grapes.

Michigan agriculture is the second most diverse in the nation next to, of course, California. There are 112 operating wineries in Michigan and the wine scene dates back to the 1800s. Like other regions in the US, prohibition set back the wine industry there and for a long time, most of the grapes grown went to the production of grape juice like Welch’s.

The Great Lakes, specifically Lake Michigan make the difference for growing here. The giant lake tempers the air along shoreline regions, protecting fall crops from harsh, early frosts, and preventing spring crops from blooming too early. Lake effect snow is important too, as it insulates vines from extremely cold temperatures. Also, the state runs between the 41st-47th parallels with a lot of vineyards on or near the 45th. Most vineyards are planted either in the south across the lake from Chicago called the Lake Michigan Shore region, or in the north on Leelanau Peninsula and Old Mission Peninsula…like Neu Cellars! It’s definitely a cool climate wine region, similar to the wine regions of Germany in grapes and style with some native grapes similar to upstate NY. 

 

 

ChiChi — Back to the top

Variety: 100% Baco Noir
Location: Old Mission Peninsula AVA. Practicing organics.
Alcohol: 11.0%
Total Production: 23 cases

Making of: In late September, the 30-year-old Baco Noir was hand-harvested. 80% was placed into sealed stainless steel tanks whole cluster. The other 20% was lightly foot trod and pressed with stems into a stainless fusti tank. After 2 weeks of carbonic maceration, it was pressed and blended with the 20% direct press in a neutral oak barrel. It aged for 5 months before being racked off and bottled in mid-March. Unfined, unfiltered, unsulfured.


Splash 2020 Traditional Method Sparkling — Back to the top

Variety: 100% Riesling
Location: Old Mission Peninsula AVA. Practicing organics.
Alcohol: 10.7%
Total Production: 19 cases

Making of: In mid-October, the Riesling was hand-harvested and placed in sealed stainless steel tanks as whole clusters. After 3 weeks of carbonic maceration, it was pressed with stems back into stainless tanks. After 3 weeks post-press, primary fermentation (native yeast only) was complete. At this time, freshly-pressed Riesling must was added as liqueur de tirage during bottling. The wine was then bottle-aged for 4.5 months on the lees before it was disgorged by hand in mid-April. Unfined, unfiltered, unsulfured.


Ripper — Back to the top

Total production: 25 cases

Location: Old Mission Peninsula AVA. Practicing organics.

Varieties: 90% Cayuga, 10% Riesling

Vinification Method: The Cayuga was picked, lightly foot trod, and pressed with stems into neutral oak barrels in early October, where it completed primary fermentation within 3 weeks. Freshly pressed Riesling was added liqueur de tirage during bottling. The wine was then bottle aged for 5.5 months on the lees before it was hand disgorged in mid-April.


Collective — Back to the top

Total production: 22 cases

Location: Old Mission Peninsula AVA. Practicing organics.

Varieties: 70% Baco Noir, 15% Cayuga, 15% Riesling

Vinification Method: The Baco Noir, Cayuga, and Riesling were picked in early October. They were foot trod collectively and allowed to sit on the skins for 12 hours before pressing. The resulting juice was placed in neutral oak, where it underwent a 3-week primary fermentation. At this point, freshly pressed Riesling was added. 2 weeks later, the blend was sugar-dry for a second time. At this stage, newly pressed Riesling was added as liqueur de tirage. The wine was bottle aged on the lees for 6 months prior to disgorging by hand.


Blast 2020 Traditional Method Sparkling — Back to the top

Variety: 100% Riesling

Location: Old Mission Peninsula AVA. Practicing organics.

Alcohol: 10.4%

Total Production: 21 cases

Making of: In mid-October, the Riesling was hand-harvested, lightly foot trod, and pressed with stems into neutral oak barrel and left to ferment with native yeast. It completed primary fermentation in 5 weeks. At this time, freshly-pressed Riesling was added as liqueur de tirage during bottling. The wine was then bottle-aged for 5 months on the lees before it was disgorged by hand in mid-April. Unfined, unfiltered, unsulfured.


Vitality 2020  — Back to the top

Variety: 100% Pinot Meunier
Location: Old Mission Peninsula AVA. Practicing organics.
Alcohol: 11.0%
Total Production: 27 cases

Making of: In early October, the Pinot Meunier was hand-harvested. 80% of the grapes were placed into sealed stainless steel tanks as whole clusters. The other 20% were lightly foot trod and pressed with stems into a stainless fusti tank to ferment spontaneously. After 2 weeks of carbonic maceration, it was pressed and blended with the 20% direct press in a neutral oak barrel. It aged for 5 months before being racked off and bottled in mid-March. Unfined, unfiltered, unsulfured.


Breezy 2020 Traditional Method Sparkling — Back to the top

Variety: 95% Chardonnay, 5% Pinot Meunier
Location: Old Mission Peninsula AVA Practicing organics.
Alcohol: 11.3%
Total Production: 42 cases

Making of: In late September, the Chardonnay was hand-harvested, lightly foot trod and pressed with stems into neutral oak barrel. It completed primary fermentation (native yeast only) in 3 weeks. At this time, freshly-pressed, direct press Pinot Meunier was added as liqueur de tirage during bottling. The wine was then bottle-aged for 5.5 months on the lees before it was disgorged by hand in mid-April. Unfined, unfiltered, unsulfured.


Crush 2020 Traditional Method Sparkling — Back to the top

Variety: 100% Pinot Meunier
Location: Old Mission Peninsula AVA Practicing organics.
Alcohol: 11.5%
Total Production: 21 cases

Making of: In early October, the Pinot Meunier was hand-harvested, lightly foot trod and pressed with stems into neutral oak barrel. It completed primary fermentation in 4 weeks (native yeast only). At this time, freshly-pressed, direct press Pinot Meunier was added as liqueur de tirage during bottling. The wine was then bottle-aged for 5.5 months on the lees before it was disgorged by hand in mid-April. Unfined, unfiltered, unsulfured.


Crispy 2020 — Back to the top

Variety: 50% Chardonnay, 50% Baco Noir
Location: Old Mission Peninsula AVA. Practicing organics.
Alcohol: 11.3%
Total Production: 98 cases

Making of: In late September, the Chardonnay and 30-year-old Baco Noir were hand-harvested. Both varieties were direct pressed as whole clusters. The stainless tank was filled with a 50-50 ratio of Chardonnay and Baco Noir and the grapes then co-fermented spontaneously. Primary fermentation was complete in 3 weeks. It was allowed to age on the gross lees for 5 months, before racking and bottling. Unfined, unfiltered, unsulfured.