Kessler-Haak Vineyard & Winery


For us, that journey involves wine and its incredible ability as a medium to capture the essence of its origin - the vineyard. On this journey, we strive to express through our fruit the uniqueness and beauty of place and through our wines to capture, for a moment, all that was in a year.

Location Description

Kessler-Haak vineyard is located on Highway 246, 11 miles west of Buellton,CA, in the cooler northwestern section of the Sta. Rita Hills AVA.


  • Life is about the journey.

Additional Information

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Winegrower/Winemaker - Dan Kessler was born in Lansing,Michigan and graduated with a BSEE/MSEE degree from MIT in 1981. He spent the early part of his career developing state of the art semiconductor fabrication technologies for Hewlett-Packard in Fort Collins,CO. In search of warmer weather, Dan made his move to sunny California where he joined Vitesse, a small high tech startup company, developing and manufacturing semiconductor technology for the supercomputer and telecommunications industries.
A love for wine started Dan on a journey that took on a life of its own, in a kind of "if you give a mouse a cookie" kind of way. Drinking wine led to learning about wine; led to learning about winemaking; led to making wine as a home winemaker; led to planting a small 200 vine vineyard in his backyard; led to obtaining a Winemaker's Certificate from the UC Davis Distance Learning program; led to falling in love with Sta. Rita Hills; led to buying a 40 acre parcel and planting a 30 acre vineyard; led to, well, where he is today.
Dan loves to learn and is actively involved in every aspect of growing and making wine. In the vineyard, you will frequently see him on the tractor or working with the crew. When the early spring weather gets cold, he's out in the wee hours turning on the fans and frost protection systems.

When he is not in the vineyard, you will find him at his second home at Lafond Winery, helping winemaker, Bruce McGuire, make wine at harvest and working in the tasting room.

The Team

Co-Owner/Partner - Ellen Haak Kessler grew up in a career Navy family and spent her early years on both the east and west coasts as well as in Japan and other parts of Asia. She earned her BS in Sociology from Oregon State University and since 1988, has spent her time helping grow a medical software company, Compulink Business Systems, from a 2-person operation to the thriving company it is today. Currently, she is head of documentation and deeply involved in the development of customer e-learning solutions for their products.

Dan and Ellen each have two children from previous marriages and blended their family together in 2000, when they tied the knot. Daugher, Deanna, is a graphic artist and head designer for Kessler-Haak labels and marketing pieces. Daughter, Gretchen, is an RN in labor & delivery at the new Lompoc Valley Medical Center. Daughter, Jenna, is a marketing major and corporate recruiter who they hope one day will head K-H sales and marketing efforts. Son, David, is currently in the pre-Physical Therapy program at Humboldt State University on a football scholarship, playing on the offensive line (GO JACKS!). His father is optimistic he will one day head up the vineyard management and/or winemaking team.

To date, Ellen and Dan have four wonderful grandchildren, all of whom live close by. They keep Ellen busy when she's not working from 9 to 5 (yeah right) and not helping Dan with some vineyard or winery task.

Practices & Techniques

Although we are not a certified organic vineyard, vineyard practices are strictly organic. Our farming approach strives for balance, harmony and co-existence between the vines and plant, animal and insect populations. We use no pesticides or herbicides and only organic fertilizers. Weed control is done mechanically. Pest control is done through natural predators (hawks, badgers and coyotes) and trapping.

Estate Vineyards / AVA

Fog graces the vineyard most mornings; followed by cool Pacific ocean breezes and bright sunny afternoons. These conditions nurture gentle ripening of our Pinot Noir and Chardonnay at lower sugars with crisp acidity and the higher levels of spice commonly seen in cool climate viticulture.

As our vineyard has matured, it has become clear to us we are in one of the colder microclimates in our AVA. Frost has been a frequent visitor in the spring (at just the wrong time!) and occasionally in the fall before harvest and poses a never ending challenge.

Planted in 2005, soils in the vineyard vary from sandy to sandy loam with patches of clay loam. Seven Pinot Noir clones on three different rootstocks are planted amongst 27 acres of the vineyard's rolling hillsides. A 2.5 acre east-facing hillside was reserved for our 3 clones of Chardonnay, planted on low vigor 110R rootstock to showcase the exceptional character of cool climate Chardonnay. Yields in the vineyard are low and currently average 1.2 - 1.5 ton/acre for Pinot Noir and 1.5 - 2 ton/acre for Chardonnay.

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1700 Gypsy Canyon Dr, ,
Lompoc, California 93436
United States

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